Political Social Work. If you would have asked me two years ago, I would not have been able to tell you what exactly that means, but as I prepare to complete my final semester I don’t know how I ever lived without it.
I had the honor of participating in Austin Legislative Internship halfway through my first year. While I was stoked to be part of this amazing opportunity, I was still missing the exact point where traditional social intersected.
That didn’t last long.
As I sat through committee hearing after committee hearing and witnessed some of the devastating effects policy had on individual’s lives, I truly understood what it meant to be a political social worker and why we are needed.
Some policies seemed like common sense. One policy that stuck with me was in the Defense and Veteran Affairs Committee. A previous statute prevented funeral homes from releasing the cremated bodies of veterans to anyone except the next of kin. What that meant was thousands of Veterans being stored at funeral homes across the state waiting for a next of kin to claim them. As a Veteran, I cringed at the notion that one day that could be me.
The solution? A bill that allowed non-profits to claim these Veterans if a next-of-kin is unavailable. Seems so simple right? To know that I had a part in making this law a reality is an honor I will never forget.
For me political social work is advocating for policies/laws that promote equality and sustainability, especially among underserved and minority populations. The long (extremely long) hours spent analyzing policy during the Austin Legislative Internship, combined with the amazing policy professors at the GCSW, have prepared me for a long career as a political social worker.