Ambassador Alumni

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Hometown:  Lexington, Kentucky          

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Kentucky, BSW

GCSW Degree Sought:  MSW

Concentration: Macro

Anticipated graduation date: May 2017

Classes completed/currently enrolled:  Foundation, (Macro Track)

First field placement:  Greater Heights Chamber of Commerce

Second field placement: MD Anderson Cancer Center

Activities and/or Organizations: Macro Network

Scholarships/Funding: Isla Carrol Tuner Scholarship recipient

Why social work? Social work is one of the most underrated professions, the power of this profession is innovative, we will “create” future tables for others.

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Mauyra Glaude

Hometown: H-town  

Undergraduate University & Major: Texas Southern University, Psychology; Tulane University, MSW

GCSW Degree Sought:  PhD

Concentration: Social Work 

Anticipated graduation date: August 2017

Classes completed/currently enrolled: I have completed all of my required coursework. I am currently enrolled in a Pre-Dissertation Course, Data Analysis and Statistics Elective and an Independent Study to learn more about innovative teaching methods. 

First field placement: N/A

Second field placement: N/A

Activities and/or Organizations: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., NASW, CSWE, St. Mary Catholic Church, Humble

Scholarships/Funding: CSWE, Doctoral Minority Fellowship (SAMHSA)

Why social work? Upon discovering that social workers provide most professional mental health services in an Abnormal Psychology class, I knew what I wanted to be! After earning a psychology degree, I chose an advanced degree in social work so that I could use my skills to help individuals, families and communities improve their circumstances. It is my lifelong commitment to help increase accessibility of various services for the most vulnerable among us. Social Work Matters!

 

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Jarvis Corbitt

Email: jarvis_corbitt@yahoo.com

Hometown:  Jacksonville, Florida   

Undergraduate University & Major: University of South Florida – Psychology Major

GCSW Degree Sought:  MSW

Concentration: Clinical

Anticipated graduation date: December 2016

Classes completed/currently enrolled: 

  • Foundation Practice
  • HBSE
  • Research
  • Assessment
  • Family Violence
  • Managing Human Services Organizations
  • DSM
  • Advanced Social Policy Analysis
  • Evaluation
  • CBI and BTI
  • Grant Writing
  • International SW: Study Abroad (United Kingdom)
  • Clinical Practice with Elders
  • Human Trafficking
  • Drugs in Society

First field placement:

Open Door Mission, January 2015-July 2015.

  • Assist with evaluating components of the Open DoorWay Homeless and Substance Abuse Program by creating questionnaires and assessing client feedback.
  • Provide case management and resource allocation to clients needing assistance.
  • Serve as an after-hours support liaison for clients.
  • Maintain and generate data collected by the Open Door Program Director (HMIS and other systems).
  • Analyze client data and identify patterns. Assist with development and implementation of Alumni and Intern-Liaison program.

Second field placement: N/A

Harris County Institute of Forensic Science   June 2016-December 2016

  • Attend death scenes with VAS and Forensic Investigator
  • Search and notify possible family/next of kin on tracking sheet cases
  • Communicate and explain the process the decedent and family will go through during their contact with HCIFS
  • Assist with dispatching volunteer chaplains to perform death notifications
  • Conduct follow-up calls and offer grief resources
  • Maintain call back list daily

Activities and/or Organizations:

  • GCSW Student Ambassador

Scholarships/Funding:

  • Isla Carroll Turner Scholarship
  • International Education Fee Scholarship

Why social work?

The concept and values of Social Work embody who I am as an individual and there is no other career path that I would want to take. My passion has always been to help any and all that may need a helping hand, and promoting social justice for all. Since a young boy, I have always been an advocate for what is right and fair and I often faced quite a bit of adversity because of my different perspectives. Social Work allows me the opportunity to approach and interact with many different people daily, which to me is the basis and beauty of life. Social Work affords me the opportunity to ultimately “Be the Change I want to see!”

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Vanessa Garcia

Email: vgarcia5692@gmail.com

Hometown:  Lamesa TX

Undergraduate University & Major: Lubbock Christian University, Social Work

GCSW Degree Sought: MSW

Concentration: Clinical specializing in health and behavioral health

Anticipated graduation date: August 2017

Classes completed/currently enrolled:

Spring 2015:

Clinical Practice with the Elderly Population

Assessment in Social Work Practice

Summer 2015:

Summer Field II

Integrated Behavioral Health

Fall 2015:

Evaluation in Social Work Practice

Clinical Applications of DSM in Social Work

Advanced Social Policy Analysis

Spring 2016:

Cognitive Behavioral Interventions

Empowerment

Summer 2016:

Social Work Practice with LGBTQ Communities

Fall 2016:

Transtheoretical Social Work Practice: Brief Targeted Interventions

Drugs in Society

First field placement (Field I & II): Home Health Solutions – Complete assessments on patients who had home health services and psycho-social assessments, provide interventions, and advocate for clients.

Second field placement: Open Door Mission

Activities and/or Organizations:
• GCSW Student Ambassador
• Hispanic Student Association

Why social work?  
I discovered social work at an early age. My sister, who is 9 years older, majored in social work as well. I remember being around 8 years old thinking what I want to be when I grow up. I thought to myself…a social worker. The thought of being a social worker excited me. I love working with people and being able to help others. Social work has so many job opportunities. It is a huge umbrella with different avenues you can take. Social work is so essential everywhere in almost every setting. And when you do something you love, it does not feel like “work”.

 

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Tiffany Teate

Email: tteate@gmail.com

Hometown: Columbia, South Carolina

Undergraduate University & Major: Palm Beach Atlantic University, Dance and Psychology

GCSW Degree Sought: MSW

Concentration: Macro with a Political Social Work Specialization

Anticipated graduation date: May 2017

Classes completed/currently enrolled: Completed first year and a half including courses such as DSM, Global Justice, Assessment, Trauma Therapy, Policy Analysis etc.

First field placement: I was an intern at Freedom Place, a residential treatment facility specifically for minor girls who are sex trafficking survivors. I have the opportunity to be involved in both the program development side as well as the clinical aspect.

Activities and/or Organizations:
– GCSW Student Ambassador
– Student Association Vice President

-Austin Legislative Program
– YoungLife for College students

Why social work?
Social Work uniquely encompasses people and policy. I am interested in the direct impact that therapy can have on an individual but also influencing policy to create sustainable change in communities.

 

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Verna D. Johnson

Email: Johnsonvd@aol.com

Hometown: Ford Heights, Illinois

Undergraduate University & Major: Illinois State University/Political Science

GCSW Degree Sought: Master of Social Work

Concentration: Macro – Political Social Work

Anticipated graduation date: May/December 2017

Classes completed/currently enrolled: Completed SOCW 6201 Foundations of Social Work, SOCW 6202 Social Work Practice, SOCW 6204 HBSE Social Work Perspectives, SOCW 6203 Social Welfare Policies and Services, SOCW 6305 Research and Knowledge Building for Social Work Practice, SOCW 6306 Social Work Practice Skills

First field placement: Center for Hearing and Speech. I work with the Family Services Coordinator in assessing family needs for children receiving speech and audiology services in regards to eligibility for cochlear implants.

Activities and/or Organizations:
• GCSW Student Ambassador

Why social work?
I choose Social Work because Social Work is a profession/discipline that promotes social justice, respect of and the dignity and inherent worth of each individual by examining the social, economic and biopsychosocial factors that impact social welfare, human behavior, and policy creation, with the purpose and intent of improving the quality of life for people.

 

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Gardenia Garza

Email: garzag4920@gmail.com

Hometown:  League City, TX

Undergraduate University & Major: Baylor &  University of Houston Clear Lake, Social Work

GCSW Degree Sought:  MSW

Concentration: Macro

Anticipated graduation date: Fall 2016

Classes completed/currently enrolled:  Administrative Practice in Social Work, Advance Social Policy Analysis, Assessment in Social Work Practice, Strategies for Community Development, Trans-theoretical Brief Targeted Interventions.

First field placement:  Currently interviewing for internships

Activities and/or Organizations:
– Hispanic Student Organization
– Volunteer with Communities In Schools-Bay Area

Scholarships/Funding:
– Whataburger Corporate Champions Scholarship

Why social work?
After a poverty simulation during my freshman year at Baylor I was forever changed and because of that one lucid experience I changed my major from psychology to social work. There was something that one of the professors always used to quote. She would say the place where we were called was the place where our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger met. To me, social work is my calling; my deep gladness that can meet the deep hunger of the world.

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Rodrigo

RCanedo@IntSup.com

Hometown:  Houston, Texas

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Houston, BBA – Finance

GCSW Degree Sought:  MSW

Concentration: Clinical

Anticipated graduation date: Spring, 2017

Classes completed/currently enrolled:
Completed: Foundation, Policy, Practice Skills, Research, Assessment, Grant Writing, and HBSE.
Enrolled: BTI, Evaluation, Groups, and Advanced Policy.

First field placement:
Literacy Advance: More of a Macro placement, I learned about the efforts of the Houston Center for Literacy in supporting literacy providers in our area.  I taught classes on English as a Second Language and helped develop and deliver classes on résumés.  I also worked on needs assessments and program evaluation.

Activities and/or Organizations:
– Hispanic Student Association
– Clinical Leadership Society
– GCSW Ambassador

Why social work?
Social work lines up well with my sensibilities, and that has only been confirmed!  I knew I wanted to work in counseling with children, and I looked at the different options to achieve that goal.  The emphasis on justice – social, economic, and political – appealed to me.  Empowering clients, versus diagnosing and prescribing, is a lofty and ideal goal, in which I want to take part.

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Cheron

Email: cheron.hillmon@gmail.com

Hometown:  Friendswood, Texas

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Houston- Clear Lake, Psychology

GCSW Degree Sought:  MSW

Concentration: Clinical

Anticipated graduation date: Spring 2016

Classes completed/currently enrolled:
Completed:  Foundation, Assessment, CBT, DSM, and Policy.
In progress: BTI, Evaluation of Practice, Child Abuse and Neglect, and Managing Human Service Organizations.

First field placement:  UTMB- Hospital and Community Health Program. This program was created as a solution to clients who were in and out of the emergency room due to chronic illness such as Diabetes and heart issues. Each client was assigned a community health worker and a registered nurse and if needed a social worker. This would help keep the client on track with their illness and prevent them from going to the ER repeatedly. I was also able to follow medical social workers around in the hospital on different units- OB, In patient, Blocker Burn Unit and Specialty Care Clinic (moms to be dealing with being HIV Positive). I was also able to assist with a grant funded project creating a book for burn survivors. I interviewed previous burn survivors who were willing to share their story to those recently burned to help them through the lengthy process and recovery. That was an amazing project and I was thrilled to be a part of it.

Second field placement: The Children’s Center – Family Crisis Shelter- Galveston. I am interning at the Family Crisis Shelter (part of The Children’s Center) in Galveston. Here I have been assisting clients in applying for benefits, applying for child support and applying for services through the Attorney General’s office. I am also part of a newly formed Mobile Crisis Team that will serve 13 counties for homeless and throwaway youth and families. The goal is to find a place for them to reside until they are able to get on their feet.

Activities and/or Organizations:
– Clinical Leadership Society President (2015-2016)
– Graduate College of Social Work- Secretary (2015-2016)
– Ambassador for GCSW (2015-2016)
– Mobile Crisis Response Team (through internship)

Scholarships/Funding:
– G.L.O.B.E (15-16)

Why social work?
I get satisfaction out of watching a client walk away from a meeting feeling empowered and hopeful that they are able to get through another day and their current issue is not a definition of who they are at that moment. I love watching them come back when something has or has not worked out and either celebrate with me or ask me what else they need to do to continue moving forward. Social work is the ability to encapsulate the whole person, including their outside influences to be able to treat them effectively and allow them to move forward with their lives. No one deserves to feel stuck in their current situation when they feel they have more to offer.

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Cassie Manley

clmanley@uh.edu

Hometown: Watson, Louisiana

Undergraduate University & Major: Louisiana State University; Major: Communication, Minor: Political Science

GCSW Degree Sought: MSW

Concentration: Clinical

Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2017

Classes Completed/Currently Enrolled: (Weekend Cohort Track)

  • Foundation
  • Assessment
  • DSM
  • CBI
  • Advanced Policy
  • Evaluation
  • Groups in Clinical Settings
  • Empowerment
  • International Social Work (Study Abroad in UK)
  • Courage in Clinical Practice and Leadership
  • Grief/Bereavement Therapy

Enrolled:

BTI

Field Placement 1:
Your New Beginning (Spring-Summer 2015)
Facilitated psycho-educational groups for individuals ordered to participate by mandate of the court/parole/probation. Focused on Batterer Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP), but also worked with Drug & Alcohol, HIV Awareness, Parenting, Anti-Theft, and Anger Management clients. Most proud of the reestablishing the Women’s BIPP and building a consistent, cohesive group.

Field Placement 2: 

The Lovett Center (Summer 2016-Spring 2017)

Provide low-cost psychotherapy services to adolescents, young adults, adults, couples, and families as well as support Center in attaining CARF accreditation.

Activities and/or Organizations:

  • GCSW Student Ambassador
  • American Montessori Society
  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
  • National Association of Social Workers
  • The Center for Recycled Art

Scholarships/Funding:
Isla Carroll Turner Fellowship in Gerontological Social Work (In Memory of Bert F. Winston, Jr.) 2014-2015

Hamill Foundation Scholarship 2015-2016

GLOBE-Youth 2016-2017

Why Social Work?

One of my very favorite quotes, by author Susannah Conway, says, “I believe that by being the best and most healed version of ourselves we can truly make a difference in the world.” I really believe this: we are able to do the most good in the world by first refining ourselves. So, I have and continue to do this work. Now, I want to take what to me feels like the next step. I want to also help others to heal themselves as well. I chose to do this through social work because I think in order to really help people we must consistently acknowledged how overlapping systems impact a person’s life. I feel that an individual cannot be truly helped to heal without taking into account their systemic history and reality. I believe that the training that I receive through the GCSW will truly help me to do this.

 

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Claire Crawford

ecac967@yahoo.com

Hometown: Starkville, Mississippi

Undergraduate University & Major: The College of William & Mary, BA in English

GCSW Degree Sought: MSW

Concentration: Clinical with an Individualized Specialization in Social Support for Children with Physical Differences.

Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2016

Classes Completed/Currently Enrolled:
Completed: Foundation semester, DSM-5, Assessment in Social Work Practice, Trans-theoretical Cognitive Behavioral Interventions, Clinical Practice with Children and Adolescents,
Enrolled in: Evaluation of Social Work Practice, Global Justice, Trans-theoretical BTI, Independent Study.

Field Placements:
First field placement (Field I & II):
Baylor College of Medicine Transition Clinic, October 2014-May 2015
Worked as a social worker in the Transition Clinic team. We worked with adolescents who have chronic childhood illnesses and are transitioning from pediatric care to adult healthcare. As a social worker, I spent a few minutes of each patient’s appointment talking to patients and their caregivers about a range of topics relevant to their care, including their adult health insurance, independence, getting new medical equipment, independent living arrangements, advance directives, guardianship, and any social issues they might be experiencing.

Second field placement (Field III & IV):
Texas Children’s Hospital (Fall 2015 & Spring 2016)
Beginning in Fall 2015, I will be working in the Cleft Clinic and the new transition clinic for teenagers with spina bifida.

Activities and/or Organizations:
• GCSW Student Ambassador
• Albert Schweitzer Fellow

Scholarships/Funding: 
• Graduate Research Assistant
• Dean’s Council Advisory Scholarship

Why Social Work?
I was born with a cleft lip and palate and have had nine corrective surgeries. Since the age of 14, I have been dedicated to helping other children with cleft lips and palates overcome the many difficulties that can accompany this facial difference—including low self-esteem, teasing, confusion, and anxiety among others. When it was time for me to choose a career, I decided that social work was by far the best outlet for me to continue reaching this often-overlooked population. I am interested in developing and implementing social care for cleft lip and cleft palate children and other children with physical differences, and I believe that a profession as versatile and interdisciplinary as social work is the ideal foundation through which I can pursue my passion.

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Matt Rogers

matthewwrogers@aol.com

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Undergraduate University & Major: BS Psychology / Bachelor of Social Work

GCSW Degree Sought: Clinical

Concentration: None

Anticipated Graduation Date: Spring 2015

Classes Completed/Currently Enrolled: Currently enrolled in Transtheortical TBI and Crisis Intervention

First Field Placement (Field I & II):
Summer of 2013, The Tarnow Center for Self-Management, Neurofeedback.

Second Field Placement (Field III & IV):
Fall 2014-Spring 2015, The Woman’s Home, Group therapy and Individual Therapy

Activities and/or Organizations:
• GCSW Student Ambassador
• Student Association

Scholarships/Funding: Hazelwood Act

Why Social Work?
Social work is a more rounded method of helping others in a clinical environment as opposed to only a masters in counseling. It gives a student a broader perspective to not only help the client but also the family systems as well as the community as a whole.

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Emme Bozone

emme.bozone@gmail.com

Hometown: Port Saint Lucie, Florida

Undergraduate University & Major: Florida Gulf Coast University, B.A. in Communication

GCSW Degree Sought: MSW

Concentration: Clinical

Anticipated graduation date: Spring 2015

Classes completed:
Foundation Semester, CBI, DSM V, Assessment, Advanced Social Policy Analysis, Shame, Empathy & Resiliency, Groups in Clinical Settings

Classes enrolled in:
BTI, Evaluation of Practice, School Social Work, Child Abuse & Neglect

First field placement (Field I & II): Interfaith Ministries in the Meals on Wheels department. Meals on Wheels served lunch to Houston seniors that are home-bound and unable to prepare their own meals. During my time I completed assessments on prospective clients, managed a caseload of clients, and created a program to help connect isolated seniors with the community.

Second Field Placement (Field III & IV): Yellowstone Academy. Yellowstone academy serves students in grades Pre-K 3 through 8th grade. The school, a private Christian school in the Third Ward, serves students in generational poverty. As an intern in the Social Services department I carry a caseload of students, meet individually with students, co-facilitate groups, and conduct classroom observations.

Activities and/or Organizations:
– Policy Insiders Advisory Committee, Secretary
– Student Association, Vice President
– Clinical Leadership Society
– GCSW Student Ambassador

Scholarships/Funding:
– Deans Advisory Council (2014-2015)
– Hammill Foundation Scholarship (2015-2016)

Why social work?
Community is the foundation and building blocks of life. It is how we are challenged and encouraged; ultimately helping us mature into the individual we become. Positive community helps us obtain internal stability and provides resources to obtain stability in life. Social work helps us build community with the vulnerable, oppressed, and under-served individuals of our community. When we build up those around us, we are building up the world.

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Greta Nichols Bellinger

gretanicholsbellinger@gmail.com

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Texas at Austin, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

GCSW Degree Sought: MSW

Concentration: Clinical with Health Care Disparities/Behavioral Health

Anticipated Graduation Date:  Spring, 2016

Classes Completed:
Foundation semester, DSM-5, Assessment in Social Work Practice, Trans-theoretical Cognitive Behavioral Interventions, Contemporary Issues in Mental Health, Assessment.

Enrolled in:
TBI, Policy, Evaluation of Practice, Health Disparities & Independent Study

Field Placements:
Field I & II:
My first field placement was with the Council on Recovery (formerly the Council on Alcohol and Drugs). The council offers many programs for individuals dealing with addictions. I was working in the CRADLES program, providing case management to either pregnant women or women who have children and are dealing with drug/alcohol addictions. I also facilitated parent education classes for families and teens. Additionally, I was involved in grant writing and understanding policies impacting this organization and the populations it serves.

Field III & IV: Beginning in the Fall of 2015, my field placement will be at Texas Children’s Hospital. I look forward to working with families and children, who face many challenges through illness. I also feel privileged to be in a teaching hospital and working with a multidisciplinary team.

Activities and/or Organizations:
• GCSW Student Ambassador
• GCSW “Policy Insiders”

Scholarships/Funding:
– 2014-2015 Hammill Foundation Scholarship
– GLOBE Fellow
– Sandra A. Lopez Scholarship for Excellence in Clinical Practice

Why Social Work?
Although I have always had an interest in public service, I became increasingly interested in social work during my studies at the University of Texas. Through several social work courses, I had an opportunity to see first hand the injustices in our society and how policy affects certain populations. It was then I decided I wanted to be in a field that would impact others and my life as well. I believe social work is a field that will provide personal satisfaction and professional development, in addition to achieving my long-term goals of obtaining my PHD, research, and teaching.

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Pilar Valenzuela Silva

pilar.valenzuela.s@gmail.com

Hometown: Santiago, Chile

Undergraduate University & Major: Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Social Work

GCSW Degree Sought: MSW

Concentration: Clinical

Anticipated Graduation Date: Spring 2015

Clinical Applications of DSM in SW, Assessment, Cognitive Behavioral Interventions, Advanced Social Policy Analysis, Study Abroad: China-Hong Kong, Independent Study (Nepalese in Hong Kong), Brief Targeted Interventions, Evaluation of Practice, Drugs in Society, Human Sexuality, Multicultural Practice, Mediation for SW and, Fiscal Management and Budgeting.

First Field Placement (Field I & II): KIPP Schools
October 2013-May 2014
• I facilitated 6 groups with Elementary and Middle School level students to help them deal with stress, grief and loss.
• I provided individual counseling in Elementary, Middle and High School to enhance social skills in students and help them deal with difficult family situations (incarcerated parents, anger management, depression, family relations and ADHD).

Second Field Placement (Field III & IV): Texas Children’s Hospital-Employee Assistance Program
July 2014-May 2015
• I provide individual counseling to employees of the hospital to help them manage work and home life. The interventions are related to stress and anxiety reduction, family relations, financial assistance and referrals.
• I co-facilitate a grief recovery group.

Activities and/or Organizations:
• GCSW Student Ambassador
• Hispanic Student Association Officer
• Graduate Research Assistance

Scholarships/Funding: 
• Barbara and Ernest Henley Endowment for Family Health Scholarship 2014-2015
• Barbara Winston in honor of Katherine White Scholarship 2013-2014

Why Social Work?
Growing up in a rural area I noticed the inequalities suffering by my home country. I was blessed to go to a school that was very active with the surrounding community and I was involved in several projects to help the underserved population around us.  I always enjoyed being part of these initiatives and I decided to make them my life style. After graduating from High School I was confident that Social Work was part of my future since its values were aligned with what my school and family taught me. I pursued my BSW in Chile, however I wanted to learn more about clinical skills I decided to expand my knowledge and come to the US and get my MSW.

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Karissa Littlejohn

KLittlejohn83@yahoo.com

Hometown: Midland, Texas

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Houston, Accounting

GCSW Degree Sought: MSW

Concentration: Clinical with an individualized specialization in Minorities in Schools.

Anticipated Graduation Date: Spring, 2016

Classes Completed/Currently Enrolled: Assessment in Social Work Practice, Issues in Aging, Women’s Issues, DSM, SW Practice and Intervention in Schools, Advanced Social Policy Analysis, Crisis Intervention, Evaluation of SW Practice, Empowerment, CBI, Clinical Practice with Children and Adolescents, BTI.

Field placement: Harris County Probate Court #3 – In this placement I had the opportunity to conduct guardianship assessments for adults who are incapacitated.

Second field placement: Communities in Schools – In this placement I work with middle and high school students at Sanchez high school two days a week. I also work at CIS main office with the development department.

Activities and/or Organizations:
• GCSW Student Ambassador

Why Social Work?
I have a passion for working with teens. I got into social work because I see the need for people willing to devote time to encouraging and empowering young people to reach their full potential.

Jessica Spring 2014

 

 

 

 

Jessica Hightower

Jessica.a.hightower@gmail.com      

Hometown:  Spring, Texas

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Houston Bachelor of Science Major: Human Development and Family Studies, Minor: Psychology

GCSW Degree Sought: MSW

Concentration:  Clinical, Gerontology Specialization

Anticipated graduation date: May 2016

Classes completed: Foundation Semester

Currently Enrolled: Assessment in Social Work Practice, Issues in Aging, Field Practicum II

First field placement: Greater Heights Chamber of Commerce, October, 2014 to Present

Activities and/or Organizations:

  • GCSW Student Ambassador 

 Why social work? 

I am passionate about seeing a person succeed.  The definition of success is different for each person, but if I am able to help a person reach their goal then that person has succeeded.  I enjoy being able to assist someone and provide them with resources.  I enjoy the mental health field, and I am passionate about advocating for clients with a mental illness.  I want people to know that a person with a mental illness is able to function in the community and achieve their goals.

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Lauren Emmerson

lemmerson@twu.edu

Hometown: Kilwinning, Scotland

Undergraduate University & Major:
Glasgow Caledonian University, Biomedical Science
Texas Woman’s University, Social Work

GCSW Degree Sought: MSW

Concentration: Macro, Political Specialization

Anticipated Graduation Date: Fall 2015

Classes completed/currently enrolled:
Currently enrolled: Groups in Clinical Settings, Strategies for Community Development, Assessment in Social Work Practice, Advanced Social Policy Analysis, Trans Cognitive Behavioral Interventions.

Field Placement:
Denton County Friends of the Family. DCFOF is a non-profit agency that works with women, men, and children impacted by rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence. I worked with clients on a daily basis linking them with appropriate services, coordinated with staff members and other agencies for available resources, and reached out to the community for support.

Activities and/or Organizations:
• GCSW Student Ambassador
• NASW

Scholarships/Funding:
• The Mehta Foundation Scholarship

Why social work? 
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household where both parents were social workers, so naturally I went against the grain and entered the Biomedical Science arena. I quickly identified that research is a massive passion of mine, but I wanted it to be in a field that would allow me to influence global justice, equity, and social change. I therefore returned to my roots and entered the Social Work field. I can honestly say I have never looked back. The people I have met through this experience have truly influenced my life in ways I can’t explain and I have found a profession I am passionate to pursue.

Tabeen Spring 2014

Tabeen Islam

tabeen@gmail.com

Hometown:  Houston, Texas

Undergraduate University & Major: Tulane University, Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Neuroscience

GCSW Degree Sought: MSW

Concentration: Clinical Social Work, within a hospital setting

Anticipated graduation date: May 2015

Classes completed: Foundation Semester

Currently enrolled: Clinical Applications of  DSM in Social Work, Cognitive Behavioral Interactions, Assessment in Social Work Practice, Advanced Social Policy Analysis

First field placement: Shriners Hospital for Children, September 2013 – Current.

I am an intern at Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston, TX, where I continually learn that it only takes the passion of one person to have a long-lasting and fulfilling impact on others. I work with an interdisciplinary team of physicians, physical therapists and occupational therapists to assist in the rehabilitation of children born with congenital deformities or are victims of burns or accidents that sometimes result in brain injuries and amputated limbs. These children enter the hospital with physical and emotional scars; they leave with healed bodies and self-esteems on the mend. Children are capable of incredible resilience – teaching them to tap into their own inner strength to improve their lives has been extraordinarily fulfilling.

Activities and/or Organizations:

  • GCSW Student Ambassador
  • Kappa Kappa Gamma, International Sorority

Why social work?

Throughout my life, I have been building on my inherent need to help others. During my father’s battle with brain cancer, I developed an understanding of life and its fragility in a way that only people with the same experiences can comprehend. After college, I moved to New York and worked for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital doing breast cancer research. My time there counseling cancer patients solidified my desire to work in the healthcare field. A short four years after my father passed away, my mother was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Witnessing both parents go through these experiences gave me a deeper understanding of the benefits of therapy and counseling after hardship. I admired, respected and looked up to the clinical social workers who helped my family pick up the pieces of our lives throughout all of our misfortunes.

I chose social work because I believe that passion is contagious. Believe in something strongly, and people will support you. I want to interact with patients and show them that there is not anything that they cannot accomplish if they put their minds to it. The excitement of social work is that it is simultaneously scientific and deeply humanistic. I look forward to a career that combines the intellectual thrill of exploring how our brains work to empower individuals, with the emotional satisfaction of developing relationships with these individuals to support them during their most difficult moments.

Jorge Olvera

jolver798@gmail.com

Hometown:  Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico

Undergraduate University & Major: Sociology at The University of Houston- Downtown

GCSW Degree Sought: MSW

Concentration: Macro- Gerontology

Anticipated Graduation Date: Spring 2015

Classes Completed/Currently Enrolled: Advanced Policy Analysis, Community Development, Policy Advocacy

First Field Placement (Field I & II):
Better Business Bureau- Education Foundation, September 2013- May 2014.
I was at the Better Business Bureau- Education Foundation, where I was working with senior citizens through the Senior Medicare Patrol. I went out and educate Medicare recipients on Medicare fraud, scams and abuse and how to protect, detect and report them.

Second Field Placement (Field III & IV):
I am placed at Sheltering Arms Senior Services, a wing of Neighborhood Centers, Inc. Here I have been trained in Chronic Disease Self-Management and are currently a lay leader. Starting next semester I will be educating senior veterans on how to better care for their health.

Activities and/or Organizations:
• GCSW Student Ambassador
• Hispanic Student Association
• Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, Inc.

Scholarships/Funding:
AGIFT, Deans List, De Zavala Lodge Masters Scholarship

Why Social Work?
I chose this profession because I saw many mishaps concerning human rights while growing up in Mexico. I also saw many vulnerable yet hardworking people whom I think could have changed their life course if only they had the right resources to overcome their situations. Later in life I experienced a death in my family and that kind of drove me toward working with end-of-life populations, especially the elderly.

Jorge Olvera Photo II

Anna Johnson

anna_n_johnson90@yahoo.com

Hometown:  Houston, Texas

Undergraduate University & Major: The University of Texas at Austin; B.A. Psychology, Minor: Sociology

GCSW Degree Sought: MSW

Concentration: Macro

Anticipated Graduation Date: Spring 2015

Classes Completed/Currently Enrolled: Assessment, Dynamics of Leadership, Spirituality and Aging, Advanced Social Policy Analysis, Organizational Development, Women’s Issues, Administrative Practice, Community Development, Evaluation of Practice, Independent Study, Program Evaluation, Advanced Social Policy Advocacy, Transtheortical CBI

First Field Placement:
Alliance for Multicultural Community Services: October 2012 – May 2014.
The Alliance for Multicultural Community Services provides services to refugees and immigrants who have recently arrived in the United States, including case management, ESL classes, driver’s education, employment and job training. The Alliance also has an interpreter program with over 70 languages and a community garden which trains refugees in organic farming practices. I work directly with clients, providing case management services, and I also assist with grant writing and community outreach.

Second Field Placement:
Houston Methodist Hospital, Organizational Development & Training: August 2014 – Present
Houston Methodist Hospital has been consistently ranked as one of the best hospitals in Texas and one of the best places to work by U.S. News and World Report. In the Department of Organizational Development and Training, we work to maintain this reputation, by focusing on developing strong relationships, cultivating talent, and providing the best experience for patients and guests. Because of our excellent interpersonal communication skills, analytic reasoning, and systems perspective, social workers have the potential to contribute greatly in the fields of Human Resources, Business, and Administration. As an intern, I work with managers and directors throughout the hospital in building leadership skills, facilitating difficult conversations, and increasing effective communication. I hope to continue working in an organizational setting after graduation.

Activities and/or Organizations:
– GCSW Student Ambassador
– M.A.C.R.O. Student Network: Director
– Student Association: Macro Representative
– Graduate Assistant: Department of Development

Scholarships/Funding:
– AmeriCorps Educational Award
– Graduate Assistantship Scholarship

Why Social Work?
My interest in social work began my freshman year in college when I participated as a volunteer in the Austin Woman’s Resource Fair. It was my first glance at inequity in access to basic resources, such as food, clothing, and health care. As a psychology major and sociology minor, I thought that social work was a perfect marriage of the two, with an emphasis on social justice. After I graduated I taught high school special education at a dropout recovery charter school in Houston, hoping to address the problem of educational inequity at the ground level, but my thoughts always returned to social work. I am getting my Master’s in order to address the issues of societal inequity on a larger scale, and I believe macro social work is the best vehicle for this.

Emmanuel Spring 2014

Emmanuel Ben-Edet

ebenedet01@yahoo.com

Hometown:  Akwa Ibom, Nigeria

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Uyo, Political Science

GCSW Degree Sought: MSW

Concentration: Macro-Political Specialization

Anticipated graduation date: Spring, 2015

Classes completed/enrolled: Assessment, Dynamics of Leadership, Minority Males in Criminal Justice System, Advance Social Policy Analysis, Organizational Behavior and Change, Human Trafficking (Selected topics in social work), Evaluation of Practice, Administrative Practice, Strategies for Community Development, Global Social Justice, Social Policy Advocacy, Spirituality and Aging, Mediation for Social Workers.

First field placement:
Third Ward Community Cloth Cooperative- October 2013- May 2014.
The Third Ward Community Cloth Cooperative is a coalition of over 450 community- based organizations, businesses and Churches within the Greater Third Ward area of Houston providing complimentary services to residents. I worked as a Coordinator of the cooperatives membership activities and in collaboration with three other Interns organized the Emancipation Park Fun and Resource Day in April 2014.

Second field placement:
Baylor College of Medicine Community Program: August –Present.
Baylor College of Medicine Community Program which originally began in 2005 incorporates hands-on experiential education in all areas of social work, micro-macro.  We work on intervention leadership programs targeted at decreasing juvenile violence and recidivism servicing/mentoring youths ages 10-18 on Anger management, conflict resolution, substance abuse resistance, emotional regulation, communication, decision making, parent/youth collaboration and goal setting.

Activities and/or Organizations:
•    GCSW Student Ambassador
•    M.A.C.R.O Student Network: member

Why social work?  
One of the factors that influenced my choice of social work was the continuous divide between the rich and the poor. As a private wealth manager in my previous life, I had firsthand experience dealing with some policy makers and governmental agencies who worked deliberately to ensure that the gulf between the ‘rich’ and ‘the rest of us’ was not bridged. I believe this triggered my interest in philanthropy and community organization. The Greater Third Ward Community Cooperative and Baylor College of Medicine Community Program in collaboration with the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work has afforded me the needed platform to develop and express my skills as a social worker in bridging the gulf.
That fulfillment comes with achieving my Master’s in Social Work and specialization in Political Social Work.

Student Ambassadors 2013-2014

Pilar Valenzuela Photo    

Pilar Valenzuela Silva
Hometown: Santiago, Chile
Undergraduate University & Major: Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Social Work
GCSW Degree Sought: MSW
Concentration: Clinical

First Field Placement (Field I & II): KIPP Schools
Second Field Placement (Field III & IV): Texas Children’s Hospital – Employee Assistance Program

Why Social Work?
Growing up in a rural area I noticed the inequalities suffering by my home country. I was blessed to go to a school that was very active with the surrounding community and I was involved in several projects to help the underserved population around us.  I always enjoyed being part of these initiatives and I decided to make them my life style. After graduating from High School I was confident that Social Work was part of my future since its values were aligned with what my school and family taught me. I pursued my BSW in Chile, however I wanted to learn more about clinical skills I decided to expand my knowledge and come to the US and get my MSW.

Christine Spring 2014      

Christine Bakos-Block
Hometown:  Knoxville, TN
Undergraduate University & Major: University of Houston; English Literature
GCSW Degree: MSW/PhD
Concentration: Clinical

First field placement (Field I & II): Houston Area Parkinson Society. Fall 2010 through Summer, 2011.
Second field placement (Field III & IV): Blue Basin, Inc. Summer 2011 (full time, block placement).

Why social work?
I am dedicated to public service and social justice, and wanted to be active in a career that would provide a meaningful contribution to those values. Additionally, I was interested in addiction research and mental health parity, and the research conducted in social work is active in these areas.

Carol blog2013 pic

 

 

 

 

Carol Laufer

Hometown:  New York City, NY

Undergraduate University & Major: Vassar College, BA in Psychology
Graduate University & Major: Rice University, Master of Architecture

Concentration: Clinical

Field placement:
Center for Hearing and Speech

Why social work?
Community building and social justice have emerged as themes that have guided many decisions I’ve made as an adult and as a parent over the past 20 years. When I was ready for a career-change I looked into many fields that might help move my work life to align with these values. I found social work to offer the most relevant educational and professional opportunities. I’m very happy with my decision to return to school to pursue an MSW.

Torey Spring 2014

 

 

 

 

Torey Ian Powell 

Hometown:  Houston/San Antonio, TX

Undergraduate University & Major: Concordia University Texas, Bachelor of Arts in Communications/ Public Relations Specialization

Concentration: MACRO, Political Specialization

Field placements:
◾ Southeast Houston Transformation Alliance
◾ Austin Legislative Internship Program

Why social work?
I believe in helping people. Through policy initiatives we can make a huge difference in people’s lives. I believe in equality for all people and strive to ensure that my social work career will help reach equality for all people. Most of My social work profession has been focused on assisting returning Veterans, but I have recently begun to expand my area of focus to providing access to stable, healthy food sources in minority communities.

Sara blog2013 pic

 

 

 

 

Sara England

Hometown:  Clear Lake, TX

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Houston, Psychology Major

Concentration: Clinical, Gerontology

Field placements:

  • New Dimensions Day Hospital
  • TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital

Why social work?
Initially, what attracted me to social work was my fascination with people and desire to help others. But what I love most about social work is it values advocacy and action on behalf of the people we serve. This in itself is what makes social work unique and why it was a perfect match for me.

Jackie profile pic

 

 

 

 

Jacquelynn Duron, LCSW, PhD

Hometown: Houston, TX

Undergraduate University and Major: University of St. Thomas, Psychology

Concentration: Clinical

Field placements:

  • Thomas St. Clinic
  • Children at Risk

Why social work?
My parents fostered the pathway for my life-long commitment to social work.  They cultivated a strong sense of service by promoting a responsibility to share the blessings one has received and strongly encouraged giving back to the community.  While social work was not the evident choice during my early college years, I happily found myself here.  With a love for helping others, interest in social welfare, and pursuit of research, I have embraced the field.  Social work has given me an opportunity to develop skills in human behavior, advocacy, education, and research.  Social work has been the perfect combination of my interests in the individual, consideration of systems, pursuit of justice, and emphasis on improving communities through continued education and research.

My love for research began when I was 18 years old and was offered a summer position at a medical school working for a neuropsychology laboratory.  This summer job turned into 6 years of developing research practice.  Eventually I ran project protocols administering computer-based interventions.  And I knew then that research would always be a part of my career.  I just didn’t know when that would happen.  After receiving my MSW, I decided to gain some practice experience.  For 5 years I worked in social services settings, and again, found myself coordinating a research project.  When the project was complete, I was ready to return to school.  For me, this break from school was the best choice because it allowed me to connect with clients and the community, earn my LCSW, and provided many rich experiences that inform my thinking and research development.

Holly

 

 

 

 

Holly Oxhandler, MSW, PhD

Hometown: Rochester, NY

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Houston – Psychology

Concentration: Clinical Practice

Field placements:

  • Arrow Child and Family Ministries
  • Counseling Associates of South Texas (CAST)

Why social work?
After graduating from University of Houston with my B.S. in psychology and minor in studio arts, I began working at Baylor as a research assistant/counselor administering CBT to older adults with anxiety and depression. I loved working with and helping my patients so much, but was ready to get back into school to learn more about clinical work. I spent some time exploring my options and began to learn about the professional opportunities in social work. It seemed to fit so well with what I was interested in, so I listened to my gut and applied. Also while at Baylor, I worked on a study that looked at older adults’ preferences about integrating their spiritual beliefs into treatment, and I found my clinical and research passion! However, it wasn’t until I was sitting in the auditorium for orientation at GCSW that it all really clicked – the whole “person in environment” concept and need to address the clients’ culture (which spirituality is often a part of)… it all seemed to knock that “Ah Ha!” moment into me, and I felt home!

Emmony blog2013 pic

 

 

 

 

Emmony Pena

Hometown: Houston,Texas

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Houston, B.S in Kinesiology, Minor in Psychology

Concentration: MACRO Practice

Field placements:

  • Easter Seals Greater Houston
  • Harris County Protective Services for Children and Adults

Why social work?
After graduating with my degree in Kinesiology, I wondered to myself, what next? I knew that I loved helping people meet goals, and that I wanted to be in healthcare, but did not know where to begin. I began exploring opportunities and discovered that Social Work fulfilled my core values of education and empowerment. I want to apply Social Work values in the health field by becoming a patient advocate through client centered program development based on evidence-based research. Social Work enabled me to combine my interests of client-centered programs, culture, and change. In particular, I want to work with improving the education, trust, and communication of Latino clients receiving health services. I grew up in the Latino culture, and experienced first hand how distrust, lack of access, and misunderstanding in health affected willingness to seek help. I would love to be a part of the advancement of cultural diversity and quality of care in this field. Currently, I have the honor of being a graduate research assistant in palliative care with older Latino adults, where I hope to develop further knowledge on client and culture centered interventions to improve client outcomes.

Dixie blog2013 pic

 

 

 

 

Dixie Hairston

Hometown:  League City, TX

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Texas at Austin, B.A. Sociology Minor: Government

Concentration: MACRO-Political Specialization

Field Placements:

  • Child Protective Services
  • The Counsel on Alcohol and Drugs

Why social work?
I am passionate about providing greater opportunities for ALL children and youth to achieve their highest potential through quality education and community services. I am passionate about advocating for equal access to quality education especially for highly vulnerable and at-risk youth.

I have recently become interested in working with populations that are highly vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking, particularly runaway and throwaway youth.

Stephanie Spring 2014

 

 

 

 

Stephanie Hernandez

Hometown:  Las Cruces, New Mexico

Undergraduate University & Major:  New Mexico State University Social Work

Concentration:  MACRO (Advanced Standing, with Political Social Work specialization)

Field placements:

  • Children at Risk
  • Methodist Hospital Organizational Development and Training Department

Why social work?
Being a first generation college student presented challenges but also increased my motivation to seek a graduate degree in Social Work. In particular, I was seeking a Macro program that would further enhance my public policy, advocacy, research and development skills. The GCSW has provided me with many opportunities to refine these skills and I am very grateful for my experiences thus far!

Further, being a student ambassador has only solidified the need for me to promote and educate others about the field of social work. There are so many opportunities for fulfillment in social work and it is my hope to share that with as many people as possible!

 

Student Ambassadors 2012-2013

Amber blog2012 pic

 

 

 

 

Amber Riaz

Hometown:  Chicago, IL

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Illinois at Chicago (B.A. English); Northeastern Illinois University (M.A Linguistics)

Concentration: Clinical Practice

Field placements:

Scholarships/Funding:  Child Welfare Education Project

Why social work?
I have been volunteering and working in the social services field for the last six years. I have worked mostly at the Macro level and loved how I was able to help  people in disadvantaged situations around me in many different capacities. Even with a Masters in Linguistics, I decided to pursue MSW because I am interested in working with children and elderly on an individual level, particularly to provide counseling services. Specifically, I am very keen on working with the South Asian community in Houston who is facing many challenges on the community and individual levels.  One definitely needs passion to work with and for people in the field of social work. In my study of social work, I want to acquire professional skills to address the roots of the issues and not just provide temporary relief. I want to empower those around me and for that, it’s important for me to be a fully skilled professional. I understand that many in this world do not live in the most ideal situations and environments. I hope to help those less advantaged reach their fullest potential by utilizing the many resources around them.

Steven blog2013 pic

 

 

 

 

Steven Parks

Hometown:  Sugar Land, TX

Undergraduate University & Major:  Texas Tech University, BA in Psychology

Concentration: Clinical Track; Child Trauma (Trauma Fellow)

Field placements:

  • Texans MHMR Center (Rosenberg)
  • Child Advocates of Fort Bend, Children’s Assessment Center

Scholarships/Funding:

Why social work?
When I grew up I wanted to be a super-hero: Spiderman, Wolverine, Superman, etc.  To me social work is as close to such a profession as one can get. Social Work is a broad value-based field dedicated to alleviating human suffering using non-judgmental empathy and advocacy skills while reinforcing client self-efficacy and autonomy as much as possible.  Coming from a business background, I place great importance on being able to operationalize my personal values into my work in a safe, productive, and validating way.  Specializing in child trauma has given me a space to provide therapeutically healing services to children at a time of great need in their lives.  Being there to hold space for the pain of these children and their parents has been deeply rewarding for me.

Monica blog2013 pic

 

 

 

 

Monica Ortiz-Holtkamp

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Houston, B.A. in Sociology

and minor in Spanish

Concentration: Social Work Trauma Education Fellow

Field placements:

Why social work?
I chose social work for many reasons, but once main reason comes to mind. I grew up in a family that valued hard work and respect for all people. As a young child I remember my father often volunteering and helping the community whenever he could. He encouraged my brothers and sisters to make a difference not only for ourselves, but for the people around us. This stuck with me as I pursed and completed my undergraduate degree in Sociology. I was the first to graduate in our family and I knew that I wanted to continue to find ways in which I could help the community. That is what lead me to pursue my M.S.W. I have learned so much through GCSW coursework, professors and internships that I can only hope to continue helping our communities.

Gabrielle pic

 

 

 

 

Gabrielle Montoya

Hometown:  Houston, TX

Undergraduate University & Major: Sam Houston State University, B.A. Mass Communications-Broadcast Journalism  Minor: Criminal Justice

Concentration: Macro Practice

Field placements:

Scholarships/Funding:

Why social work? 
I now know that I was always meant to be a social worker; it just took me a little while to realize it. In the 10th grade, I decided I was going to become a news reporter. I spent the rest of high school and the first three years of college preparing myself for it. But as fate would have it, one semester volunteering as a mentor for a group of high school students changed my future forever.

I knew I wanted to continue to work with students in a professional capacity. I applied to the MSW program here at UH the very next semester. As a first-generation college student, I know too well the number of obstacles that must be overcome to get to college. It is even harder when you are figuring out the process by yourself. I want to develop programming for students who will be the first generation in their family to go to college and help them find the resources and knowledge necessary to get a higher education.I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else but here at the UH Graduate College of Social Work.

Student Ambassadors 2011-2012

Rachel

 

 

 

 

Rachel Barajas

 Hometown:  Baytown, TX

Undergraduate University & Major: The University of Texas at Austin, BA in Geography, Minor is Sociology

Concentration: Clinical Practice

Field placements:

Scholarships/Funding:

  • The Barbara and Ernest Henley Endowment For Family Health

Why social work?
I had no idea social work existed until I was about to enter my final semester of college. I had just gone through confirmation in the Catholic Church and was required to do some community service work as part of my weekly confirmation classes.  I’ve always liked volunteering, so I was happy to complete this part of my class. It finally dawned upon me that I’ve always been happiest when I am helping others. Coupled with learning about Christ’s love and dedication to serving the poor, homeless, sick, weak, and outcasts, I took it upon myself to learn how I could follow in His footsteps. I found out after graduation, I could receive a Master’s in Social Work so I immediately went to work on gaining acceptance into a program. After applying and interview for several jobs, I stumbled upon an agency called The Settlement Home for Children. After my initial interview, where they warned me of the possibility of being kicked, punched, and/or spit on while on the job, I immediately ruled the job out. However, something in the back of my mind kept nagging me and bringing me back to the agency. I knew what I was supposed to do. I started my first job post graduation at a residential treatment center in Austin, TX and although I was challenged, physically, mentally, and emotionally, it was the best year and a half of my life. I knew that I had found my calling in life. I could not be more excited to be pursuing a profession that I not only love, but feel deeply connected to.

Ashton Pic

 

 

 

Ashton Paetzold

Hometown:  Hereford, TX

Undergraduate University & Major: West Texas A&M University, BA in Psychology & Social Work

Concentration: Clinical Practice

Field placements:

Scholarships:

  • Social Work Dean Advisory Council Scholarship
  • Presidential Grad Fellowship
  • Charlotte Campbell Scholarship Award
  • Phi Alpha Honor Society Scholarship Award

Why social work?
After dabbing my foot in the waters of four other majors in my undergraduate program, I finally dove into a major that has built me up as a professional and strengthened me personally as well. One thing that drew me to this field is that the core values of social work practice are the same core values that I hold personally.  Social workers reach out to the marginalized, the vulnerable, the forgotten individuals of society, and they empower them in many different ways. Social workers inspire individuals to reach for the stars and to rise above the circumstances that they are in. This profession is unlike any other.  It is through the field of social work that I see the ability to bring about sustainable change in the lives of individuals, in communities, and in the world. As a future LMSW, I am happy to say that I did not choose social work, social work chose me.

 

 

 

 

Melanie Pang, MSW

 Hometown: Missouri City, TX

 Undergraduate University & Major: University of Houston, Communication – Journalism; minor in LGBT Studies

Concentration: Macro Practice (MP)

Field Placements:

Scholarships/Funding:

  • PFLAG/HATCH Scholarship – PFLAG/HATCH Youth Scholarship Foundation
  • John Lawrence and Tyrone Garner Scholarship – Houston GLBT Community Center
  • The Salvation Army – HPRP Case Manager

Why social work?
I didn’t always know that this would be my path, and quite frankly, I didn’t think a Master’s degree was in the cards for me either. I came to the University of Houston in 2005 expecting to graduate with a degree in music education, the stepping-stone to becoming a band director. Music had been my escape from life’s hardships, and at the time, I wanted nothing more than to share with others the solace I had found in the enjoyment of music. As professions go, I knew it would be difficult to find a career that could match my passion for teaching music, but I felt that there was something more I could be doing to help those in need. After changing majors three times, I graduated with a B.A. in Journalism, which opened my eyes to the many issues our society is facing, many of which we have been facing for a long time. I began reflecting on my life and on the injustices done to those around me, and those thoughts have driven me to the social work profession with exactly the fire and passion I had hoped to find in a career. I have since dedicated myself to finding more than just an escape for others. I want to truly help people from the root of the issue and work to be a part of the solution in whatever capacity possible. Those desires fell right in line with the mission of social work and I have no doubt that this is where I belong.

 

 

 

 

 

Kimberly Willis, MSW

Hometown:  Houston, TX

Undergraduate University & Major: Psychology and Child and Family Studies

Concentration: MACRO Practice, with a specialization in Political Social Work

Field Placements:

 Scholarships/Funding:  

  • Winston White Scholarship

Why social work?
I choose social work  because the profession will give me the skills and training I need to help the whole person.  Individuals have a variety components that make up who they are, and it is important to be able to understand how each piece fits together to impact the individual’s entire experience.

 

 

 

 

Jaime Rivera, LMSW

Hometown: Houston, TX

Undergraduate University & Major: Trinity University, Sociology and Spanish

Concentration: Clinical practice with a specialization in Social Work Practice with Latinos

Field Placements:

Why social work?
My interest in social work and social justice derives from the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to better their lives regardless of economic, social or psychological need. From a very early age, I was able to rely on the guidance and support of my parents during difficult decisions. My hope and perseverance for a better future derives from their perspective of life which they instilled in me at an early age. Although unconditional support did not keep me from fighting my own personal demons, without their guidance I would not have been able to develop into the person I have become. For this reason, I strongly believe in the saying nadie puede negar su nido, or “no one can deny their upbringing.” I have since asked myself how people, specifically youth, go through life without the support and positive influence of a mentor, friend, or family member. I would like to give back and offer the supportive guidance to others that my parents offered to me because there is always hope for success and improvement of one’s situation.

 

 

 

 

Ivy Crank, MSW     

Hometown:  Ripley, WV

Undergraduate University & Major: Elon University- Psychology; minors in Political Science & Criminal Justice Studies

Concentration: Clinical Practice

Field Placements: 

Scholarships/Funding:

Why social work?
As an undergraduate student, I completed a 2-year research project in social psychology and took every available opportunity to study abroad and experience other cultures.  I have been involved in volunteer work for as long as I can remember, from working at a summer camp for underprivileged children, to visiting with elderly residents of a local retirement home, to mentoring college freshmen and leading tours for prospective students.  My interest in research and desire to teach led me to apply to several PhD programs in social psychology, and while I was accepted, I found myself questioning this decision.  I reflected upon the happiness that I felt when I was volunteering, and I began to research MSW programs and clinical work.  I appreciated that social work, unlike psychology, emphasizes strengths and has a broader focus.  After interviewing a clinician in private practice and learning of the variety of jobs available to social workers, I felt confident that I had discovered a career path which I would find fulfilling.  I hope that through my work I may assist clients in processing life’s inevitable struggles and can empower them to utilize internal and external resources.  Ultimately I hope to work in a private psychotherapy practice facilitating individual, couples, and group therapy for adults.

 

 

 

 

Deysi Crespo, MSW

Hometown: Huntsville, TX

Undergraduate University & Major: Universityof Houston Clear Lake – Bachelor of Social Work

Concentration: Clinical Practice (CP), with a specialization in Trabajo Social

Field Placements:

Scholarships/Funding: Scurlock Scholarship Foundation

Why social work?
My desire to help others and to make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate is my reason for wanting to be a social worker. I also like the vast array of areas that I can work in once I obtain my MSW.

 

 

 

 

Chloe Walker, MSW

Hometown: Houston, TX

Undergraduate University & Major:
Rice University – Political Science

Field placements

Scholarships/Funding:

  • UHPresidential Scholarship
  • James E. Crowther Scholarship (awarded to law students committed to public interest work)
  • Kenneth H. Ashworth Scholarship (awarded to graduate students in public affairs/public service)
  • Alvin London Scholarship for continuing JD/MSW students
  • Yale Leonard and Irene Marker Rosenburg Public Interest Scholarship

Why social work?
I spent two years working with bilingual First graders in Austin, TX who were behind in reading and usually dealing with other social issues at home.  When I learned about the field of social work, I knew that I wanted to pursue an MSW to empower myself to learn how to address the needs of clients in a more clinical setting.  After spending a year as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children, I realized that I wanted to pursue the dual degree (MSW/JD).

Student Ambassadors 2010-2011

 

 

 

 

Flor A. Guebara, LMSW                      

 Hometown: Houston, TX

Undergraduate University & Major: Smith College, Majored in Sociology

ConcentrationClinical practice, with a specialization in Trabajo Social

 Field Placements:

Scholarships/Funding:

Why social work?
I have chosen social work as my profession because I truly enjoy helping individuals. I have always wanted to help others but was never sure how I was going to do that. Social work has been the answer to my question. I wish to someday open up my own social service agency and social work has given be a great foundation. Social work has given me the tools to go out and help people on an individual, group, and policy level. It is broad enough to allow me flexibility in my job choices as well. I like that I can choose from working in counseling, in a courtroom, a hospital setting, at Child Protective Services, at Adult Protective Services, or any social service agency. I think that social work will allow me to make an impact on the world, even if it is a small one.

 

 

 

 

Felicia Coffman, MSW

Hometown: Houston, TX

Undergraduate University & Major:
Stephen F. Austin State University – Psychology

Concentration: MACRO Practice (MP)

Field Placements:

Scholarships/Funding:

Why social work?
While serving in the Peace Corps, trying to figure out some sort of direction for my life, I read a book by Anne Fadiman titled “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down”. From that point, I was hooked on the field of social work and all of the possibilities it had to offer. I felt this was the perfect field to tie together all of my scattered interests in culture, language, service, child welfare, human rights, and social justice in a focused and useful way.

 

 

 

 

Abby Bohn, MSW 

Hometown: Rowlett, TX

Undergraduate University & Major: Texas A&M University – Sociology

Concentration: MACRO Practice (MP)

Field Placements: 

Scholarships/Funding:

Why social work?
I spent my undergraduate years attempting to decide where I “fit”. I began college with aspirations of becoming a marine biologist, but my distaste of water and fish ended that dream. I did some research in other majors and found sociology which I decided was perfect. I enjoyed my sociology classes and had an interest in research and human behavior. However, I desired more one on one contact with people and I wanted to see research being put to good use. I began to look into social work and felt that the values and ethics were closely aligned with my own. I hope to empower others and promote social justice and change.

 

 

 

 

Matthew Estey, MSW

Hometown: Houston, TX

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Dallas – Philosophy

Concentration: Clinical Practice (CP)

Field Placements

Scholarships/Funding:

Why social work?
There are a variety of factors that led me to social work.  Service has always been emphasized in my family.  I can recall my Grandpa Lenzi in particular constantly talking about the experience of poverty and the importance of giving of your talents and treasure to those less fortunate.  He would always say, “There but for the grace of God go I.”  When I was very young I really didn’t understand what he was talking about but I began to see the value of his values as I got older.  I never planned to be in the helping profession but discovered, somewhat haphazardly, that I really enjoy working with people and walking with them on their journey.  I began by teaching at an inner-city school, then went on to a non-punitive, therapeutic wilderness program for foster kids and adjudicated youth, and finally to a few young adult transitional living programs.  While there were some detours in between, I found that the possibility of helping people was more important than titles, or pay, or praise from anyone.  I also began to appreciate how much personal satisfaction I derived from that work and saw how such activities sped up my own transformation.  The journey thus far has been serendipitous and I look forward to what the future will bring.

Student Ambassadors 2009-2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heather Doyle, MSW

Hometown: Temple, TX

Undergraduate University & Major:
Henderson State University – Music

 Concentration: Clinical Practice (CP)

Field Placements:  

  • MD Anderson Cancer Center 

Scholarships/Funding:

  • GCSW Gerson David Scholarship
  • MD Anderson stipend for field work
  • Study Abroad Scholarship for the study abroad program to China and Hong Kong.

Why social work?
I always knew that I loved working with people and helping people.  I started working for a non-profit agency while in my undergrad program.  I fell in love with the individuals I was working with as well as the difference I was making in their lives and the difference they were making in my life.  I felt fulfilled.  I then decided I wanted to go back to school for Social work.  I enjoy working with older adults and hope to make a profession out of my passion.

 

 

 

 

 

Januari M. Leo, MSW

Hometown: Garland, TX

Undergraduate University & Major: University of Houston Downtown – Social Science

Concentration: Leadership, Administration and Advocacy (LAA), now Macro Practice

Field Placements:

  • The Women’s Home (Field III & IV)

Scholarships/Funding:

  • 2009 Frontier Fiesta scholar, Field Office stipend recipient

Why social work?
I have always had a strong, innate sense of social justice.  My freshman year in college, I began working at a drop-in center in Austin that assisted homeless and runaway youth.  It was then that I discovered my passion for the helping profession, and got to see firsthand what social workers did, and what kind of difference they could make.  My best friend is also a social worker, and she has acted as a tremendous mentor and role model for me in the profession.  Social work values line up with everything I believe in:  equal access to care and service for all people regardless of race, faith, sexual orientation, gender, anything.  Dignity is inherent.

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