By Amber

When I started the MSW program at GCSW last year, I received information about many student organizations and opportunities for social work students to get involved on all levels. At first, I was not sure which organization would be most beneficial for me, as the choices were too many and they all seemed very interesting.

I decided to start with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), which has chapters in all major cities, including Houston. I am glad that I made the decision to do so, as it introduced me to the larger social work community. For a discounted student rate, NASW offers several membership benefits, the most important of which are the free or low cost educational events taking place year around. NASW also has a Facebook page, which is a great place for students and social workers to come together and discuss anything related to the field. Members use the page to find out about educational events, resources, job and internship opportunities, as well as to discuss issues affecting the communities, etc.

My field supervisors were very supportive of me attending the educational workshops and social work events, and let me use that time to fulfill my field hours. The best part of being part of NASW is that it provides numerous networking opportunities through which I have made contacts with professionals in the field and which I hope to utilize during my professional career.

My first year of school, I joined the Clinical Leadership Society and was designated the Communications Director. In my position, I organized and promoted events, which included bake sales, and workshops on couple counseling, self-care, mindfulness, etc. Moreover, I made some great friends with whom I share similar interests on personal, educational and professional levels.

Even though I may not have been a member of the many other student organizations, I attended educational events and mixers by MACRO Network, Association of Asian American Social Workers, etc. Most of the events organized by the student organizations are open to all the students, which is a great option for someone who wants to benefit from what the organizations have to offer without becoming a member.

In my second year, I am currently the co-chair of the Student Committee for NASW Houston Steering Committee. I am also the NASW Representative for GCSW, member of the Graduate Student Association and serving on the executive committee of the Child Welfare Education Project Student Organization. Like last year, my roles will allow me to advocate for and network with my fellow colleagues on various levels and provide opportunities for them to be part of the social work scene on both, school and professional levels.

In the future, my involvement with student organizations will demonstrate my advocacy skills on my professional resume which are an essential part of social work.

If you are interested in being part of student organizations, visit  http://www.uh.edu/socialwork/current-students/organizations/index.php.

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