Trevecca grad employs social work degree at mental health organization

In middle school, Kaytlin Killion, read the story “To Write Love on Her Arms” on MySpace and knew at once that this was an organization she wanted to be involved with.

After graduating from Trevecca this past May with a bachelor’s degree in social work, Killion finally got her chance.

“When I was thinking about doing this internship I was actually in high school … but they recommended two years college experience before applying,” Killion said. “So I waited until I graduated and thought, ‘Well, this is my last chance!’ So I applied for the internship went through the two or three rounds of interviews and got accepted—which was crazy because a lot of people apply more than once.”

Killion is now one of seven interns working with To Write Love on Her Arms, an organization committed to raising awareness and bringing hope and support to those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.

Killion spends her mornings responding to messages about all different things from people sharing their own stories, to parents seeking help for their children struggling, to people reaching out to host events or learn about becoming a supporter.

Answering these messages takes time and understanding. Killion relies on her social work education to help her take the proper route for each message.

“I see [classwork] coming up when I’m responding to these info messages. Some of these are just really really heavy,” she said. “Learning how to be a listener and not sounding like I have all the answers or that there’s a quick fix to people’s problems, but looking at the whole picture and saying, ‘What would give this person hope?’ or ‘What can we do?’ because we’re not a crisis service. So I’m asking ‘What role can we play in advocacy and moving forward?’ I feel like Dr. [Sarah] Bollinger and Professor [Elizabeth] Nunly really helped with framing my mind in how to think like that.”

In the afternoons, Killion serves on the administrative team working with donations to the organization and thanking donors. Killion says To Write Love on Her Arms has also given her the chance to gain hands-on experience in community outreach. From conferences that raise awareness and support to community races, Killion has had the opportunity to combine her passions.

Killion says her Trevecca experience not only helped to prepare her academically, but also relationally. All seven of the To Write Love on Her Arms interns live together in the same house.

“Having lived in the dorms on campus is really helpful … and I was an RA so having a back knowledge of community [is helpful],” Killion said. “Living with everyone in the house is really great because there aren't many internships that focus on you becoming best friends with the people you work with, but that’s definitely happened.”

By Jessy Anne Walters
Media contact: Mandy Crow,, 615-248-1695