Get to know Sarah Hessenauer!


Sarah Hessenauer is an Assistant Professor in the Social Work Department.   She has been teaching at UW-Whitewater for seven years but has a long history with our campus!





What is your educational background?

I have my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from UW-Whitewater. I actually double-majored in Social Work and Psychology. Then after that I got my Master’s in Social Work from UW-Milwaukee. After that I got my Master’s in Business Administration from Whitewater. Then I have a PhD in Social Work from Loyola University.

What courses do you teach here?

I teach Social Work courses. The main course I teach is called Social Work Practice 3 and it focuses on macro-level social work, so students working in jobs. We focus on what it’s like in the real world; things like resume building, hiring, and we also set up an internship. All Social Work students do a full-semester internship where they’re at an agency for 40 hours a week, so my job is to prepare them for that. I also teach a course on grief, I teach a course on stress, and I teach a course on medication. I also teach an Intro to Social Work class and New Student Seminar.

What are your research interests?

 My research has always been about Bachelor-level social workers and what we are teaching them, so it’s really applicable in the classroom.

How long have you been teaching?

I have been teaching here for 7 years.

What inspired you to become a professor?

I have always wanted to become a professor. The moment I graduated with my undergrad I thought “I love campus life”. I love being around the campus environment, I love the learning, I love the energy. I just wanted to teach. I wanted to share my knowledge of social work.

What do you like most about teaching?

I just love being around students; I love their energy. If it wasn’t for students, I probably wouldn’t teach. I learn every day from my students, so they learn from me, but I also learn a lot from them.

What do you like most about UW-Whitewater?

I don’t know because I’ve loved it my whole life! The campus is large, but it doesn’t feel large; it’s a community. I really feel like the professors care about their students here. They make students a priority, which is why I love the learning community because I get to mentor freshman right away and build that 4-year relationship.

What are some of your interests outside teaching?

I love going to concerts any chance I can. I also love theatre, so anything to do with music and plays. Otherwise my interests are my family- I have a huge family.

Who is your favorite artist/band?

Sarah McLaughlin’s my go-to person. The best concert I’ve seen is the Eagles with the Dixie Chicks.

What’s something your students may be surprised to learn about you?

What a lot of people are surprised to learn about me is that I come from a family of professional trick-ropers. My grandfather was actually in the circus. He used to stand 30 feet away from me and he could a whip a piece of paper out of my mouth. When I was little, I would perform at small community events. It’s very unique to my family.

Who inspires you and why?

My first thought is my daughter. Even in rough times I am always role modeling for her; I am teaching her life skills. So she has always driven me, and now I have two step kids. My kids are really important to me. But everyone always asks me why I became a social worker and it’s because of my parents. We are always taking in people. My husband also supports me as well.