Reflections on Graduation

Congratulations to our recent GCSW Student Ambassador graduates!  Thank you all for representing the College.  Here they share some reflections before moving on to their next big adventure.          

by Matt

Two years go by really quickly.  A good friend of mine told me a long time ago that time seems to move faster as we get older because, proportionately, each moment is a shorter part of our total experience.  Thus, subjectively, time seems to speed up….

I have learned so much in this program, met so many interesting people, and had such amazing opportunities at the GCSW.  I am so happy that I chose to get my MSW and that everything has played out in the way that it did.  There were definitely times I felt totally stressed out and was not sure that I could make it.  I think the biggest challenge throughout the process was learning how to balance such disparate claims on my time.  Between classes, internships, fellowships, part-time jobs, homework etc…there were times I thought the rubber band was just gonna snap! 

Another good friend of mine told me that advice unasked for was pretty much a waste of one’s breath or, perhaps in this case, ones typing!  However, I will presume that anyone still reading IS interested and will proffer some advice:  

  1. There is no secret to graduate school.  Things like time management, self-care, patience, preparation, and discipline are really helpful in making this a success.  You can get back lacking some of these aforementioned qualities, but you might develop trichotillomania (you will learn about this in DSM, sorry Macro people). 
  2. Visit with your professors! Office hours don’t exist just to beg for extensions and grade changes. 
  3. Participate in class and in events going on at the GCSW.  There are so many ways to network with really interesting people in the Houston area and, who knows, maybe one of them might offer you a job when you graduate! 
  4. Utilize Ann, Jan, and Jamie, they know a lot of things you don’t, trust me… 
  5. Get to know the person sitting next to you, and behind you, and in front of you, they are your future colleagues.

I want to thank everyone who helped me along this process.  There are too many folks to mention, but I want to single out all of my peeps in Cohort 1 as well as Dr. Pritzker, Dr. Achenbaum, Dr. Robbins, Dr. Bordnick, Amber Mollhagen, Samantha Ary, Jamie Parker, Ann Liberman and the custodial staff at the GCSW.  Grazie mille!

Following graduation, Matt will be working at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center as a research coordinator on a PTSD study.  The research study utilizes fMRI brain scans to analyze the effects of group cognitive therapy on brain states and activation. This job will allow Matt to log hours towards a clinical licensure (LCSW).   Matt will also be recruiting for a few grants run out of Baylor College of Medicine, where he has just finished his field w.

Abby Bohn

Abby has aspirations to work advocating for vulnerable populations, especially geriatric populations.




by Felicia       

It’s okay to hang on by a string…just make sure your string is as strong as dental floss. I don’t know what prompted me to say this. However, as I sat down for my very last session of field supervision this was my most sincere and honest answer to my supervisor’s question, “How are you?”

 I have 384 hours until graduation. I am, intermittently and concurrently, ecstatic yet mortally terrified. Academically, I feel very much prepared to call myself a social worker. In terms of practice, honestly, my knees are a little shaky. I constantly question if I can carry the responsibility of those four letters that will soon follow my name, Felicia Coffman, LMSW (yes, I am claiming in advance that I will pass the licensing exam).

            Nonetheless, I squelch my anxieties by focusing on what is in my control this very moment, which is not much these days. These final days before graduation are ruled by looming class assignments.  The string holding me together is taut but strong. This helps me to believe that “What will be, will be” even if I make a ‘C’.
            Another source fueling my anxiety is the uncertainty of what I will do with this MSW. This blog was supposed to be about my plans after graduation. However, you can’t write about something you simply don’t have. Sometimes I wish I had a singular, focused map to the future like some of my colleagues. But that has never been a part of my reality and now I just accept it. I have a passion for working with international populations, transcending cultural barriers, and fighting systemic oppression. Perhaps one day, someone will appreciate my passion and want to pay me for it but today that call simply has not yet come. And I’m okay with it. Why? Because I can hang on a string as long as it’s as strong as dental floss.  

Felicia is currently running a school supply drive for a Kindergarten in Suriname, South America that she helped build during her Peace Corps Service. After she returns from delivering the collected supplies she will take the licensing exam in June. Upon passing the exam she plans to pursue a career in program development and administration for an agency serving international populations. Her ultimate career goal is to practice international social work with refugees and other displaced populations.  

by Flor

Dear graduate school,

You have provided me with the two full years of late night studying, paper writing, research doing, tears, laughs, arguments, and many new friends. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to meet such great people who I honestly can say I have grown to admire and love. I have made some very close friends in these two years of graduate school…I was blessed with a rocking….I dare say the AWESOMEST- BEST cohort…. YES…COHORT 1!! I was also able to be a proud member and officer of the Hispanic Student Association…which I loved! I will miss the professors..the computer lab…the satellite…the little red laptops we get to check out for class….the lunch potlucks… and the evening coffee run during class break. Thank you for a great graduate school experience. It was way more fun than I expected it to be….it went by in a flash! Thanks for two awesome internships at YMCA International Services and at Methodist Hospital where I got to learn from very talented people. I look forward to being a proud Coog Alumni– especially of the good ole GCSW! Go COOGS! 


Holly Oxhandler

Holly will continue her studies as a second year PhD student at the GCSW.  Her research interests include: evidence-based practice and integrating spirituality into clinical practice. Holly one day hopes to work in an academic position researching the topic of integrating spirituality into social work and educating MSW students on the subject.


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