This ambitious student is in his second year of the new two-year full-time program at CSU Monterey Bay
How did you become interested in pursuing social work?
My mother being a single parent was working full days as a field worker, managing to make ends meet, daily. Growing up in a crime- and gang-polluted neighborhood wasn’t the “American Dream” that my mother had, but having emigrated from Mexico she wasn’t left with many choices to reside at. Having to be independent at an early age gave me the responsibility and the knowledge to mature rapidly. I then faced many obstacles in my life which took me on a journey I never thought I would face. Witnessing and experiencing the traumatic experiences such as gun violence, gang violence and drug addiction which my community faces frequently influenced my decision to pursue a career in social work.
I am currently employed as a Clinical Supervisor at a men’s residential treatment program to help fight the cycle of addiction. My life experiences, educational and career goals continue to validate my path in social work. I have no doubt that my passion in pursuing social work has taught me to be grateful and compassionate about being a professional Latino social worker in my community.
What area of social work are you most interested in? Why?
I have the passion and it is my destiny to work in public mental health and as I continue to further my educational and career goals, I am a Latino male social worker invested in making a difference by stepping up to address the taboo: mental health and substance use among the Latino community.
My beliefs in working with this population are that if given the opportunity to receive the proper support a consumer can overcome their mental health struggles. For example, collaboration between agencies is key to being able to have a healthy communication to provide proper support and empower a consumer in stabilizing their mental health. This will help streamline services and not have a consumer be lost between the cracks of the system. I also believe an individual who is “dual-diagnosed” with substance use dependence can be successful in treatment if treatment providers are cognizant of a client’s mental health status. For example, when the substance is removed from daily use, an individual with the support of treatment providers can focus on abstaining from substance use and be able to function well as a productive member of society.
What made you decide to become an NASW member?
I decided to become an NASW member because of the value and integrity NASW holds for each of its members as well as the passion and dedication each member continues to contribute to helping communities. By becoming an NASW member, I am part of a bigger collaborative effort to voicing social change especially with legislative.
What are your interests outside of social work?
Most people know I am a very busy person working full-time, attending school full-time, the MSWSA President at CSU Monterey Bay, completing an internship and caring for my teenage nephew. However, they are surprised to know I find time to practice mindfulness meditation, go to the movies, attend concerts, travel, ride rollercoasters, volunteer, dance and rock out to music.
What advice would you give to future social work students?
I would say, thank you for being part of the change. If you ever get the opportunity to study abroad, do it! I had the opportunity to go to Yucatan and Colombia and it was life changing. It solidified my goal in social work. Social work can be difficult and those difficult moments are the ones that make us stronger in the field. I continue to learn self-care is important and a health benefit. Overall, social work comes from the heart; listen to what it tells you because not everyone has the skills to pursue social work. Also, please don’t forget to smile as a smile goes a long way for those who we are helping.