Lacey Nunnally: Social Work Program Director
February 17, 2012
Social Work Program Director Lacey Nunnally, a Mississippi native, obtained both her undergraduate degree and Master of Social Work from the University of Southern Mississippi. She has experience working in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers and has owned a consulting business to deal with social work compliance in long-term care facilities. Nunnally came to teach at Evangel University in 1995. She serves as adviser of the Evangel Social Work Club and is a member of Partners for Prevention, an organization that combats underage drinking.
Following the devastating Joplin tornado in May of 2011, Nunnally invested long hours serving at a disaster relief shelter as a mental health volunteer for the Red Cross. Working most days for 12-plus hours, she administered counseling and other services to the disaster victims until the day the shelter closed weeks later. Those hours spent in Joplin fostered many memorable life experiences. “I learned far more from the Joplin community, who were both displaced and resilient, than I ever gave,” says Nunnally.
Her family includes two grown children, two grandchildren, and her husband, Dr. Wave Nunnally, who teaches in Evangel’s Theology Department. Along with spending time with her family, some of her favorite activities are playing softball and Mitzvah Match. Nunnally has a Type-A, go-getter personality. She always encourages her students to get involved in the surrounding community. Her favorite time of year is hands-down the month of March, which is “National Social Work Month.”
What brought you to Evangel, and why do you enjoy teaching here?
Before teaching at Evangel, my work experience was as a social worker in the community. Having the opportunity to be a bridge between the community and college students, who have a passion to change the world, has been thrilling for me. It continues to be my driving force, as I work to connect students with dire community needs. Indeed God does care about the deep needs of children, trafficked individuals and the homeless, and He uses Social Work students to make a difference.
You are married to Dr. Wave Nunnally, who teaches in EU’s Theology Department. What is it like for you both to work as Evangel professors?
It is a privilege to work in the same university as my husband. We enjoy having the same basic work schedule and take advantage of the flexibility of the summer months. We both are very active in our respective programs and spend many hours working with students and related projects. Being married to Dr. Nunnally is the best thing that ever happened to me; both of us working at EU is an added bonus.
What is your most memorable professional achievement outside of teaching at Evangel?
I once observed an incident of child abuse in the lobby of the hospital where I worked. After a brief conversation with the mother, I learned about her many burdens and asked if I could connect her with a resource for help. She wanted the number. For one year she worked with a therapist, and her son was evaluated and also received services. After a year, she stopped by my office in the hospital and shared about her yearlong transformation and new happiness. I call that success.
One of my professional dreams became a reality in February 2012. I was offered an invitation to attend the United Nations’ Council on the Status of Women in New York City. The focus of the conference was on rural women around the globe and the many barriers to success. I was able to bring new knowledge back to the classroom and work with students to impact our area of the globe. I encourage students to read the book Half the Sky to better understand the major problems women face globally and some feasible solutions.
What is the best part about working with Evangel students?
Two of my top five strengths are developer and WOO, which I see at work in my relationships with students at Evangel. I delight in watching students arriving on campus and then building a relationship with each other and Social Work faculty in the Social Work University Seminar. During this time, we volunteer together in the community and have a blast in our weekly class together. This kicks off a solid relationship that takes us into the rest of the college years. We have small classes, so we offer individual guidance as needed.
What kinds of opportunities do students have in the Evangel social work students have?
Social work students have a stellar reputation in the Springfield community and give about 3,500 hours per semester of volunteer work. During the senior year, social work majors volunteer 450 hours in an agency doing a practicum. Currently, we have a senior in New York City at the International Social Justice Center with the International Salvation Army. She works directly with various subcommittees within the United Nations focusing on women’s issues, trafficking and various other social issues.
In a typical year social work majors are involved in coordinating and volunteering at several events/agencies including Make a Difference Day, Greene County Juvenile Office, Children’s Division, Aids Project of the Ozarks’ outreach program Homeless Count, peer educators at area high schools, foster parent’s night out and various other events. In April, we make our annual trip to the Missouri legislature for a day of education and lobbying.
In addition, the Social Work Program encourages graduate school recruiters to meet with students.
What advice do you have for prospective students, especially those interested in pursuing the behavioral sciences or social work?
I advise students to do three things if they are interested in working with people. The first is to ask God to guide your footsteps to those who are knowledgeable about working with people in need. Second, find people doing what you think you want to do and shadow them for a day. Ask them about their job, what they like and dislike, what degree is needed, information about the pay scale and various other questions. Next, you need to volunteer working with different groups of people including children, the elderly, homeless and people very different from yourself.