Student Spotlight South

Student Spotlight South: Yessenia Gonzalez
3rd Year MSW Student at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

How did you become interested in pursuing social work?

Just like many others, I have a passion and desire to help people. I wanted to do something where I can be empathetic, and genuinely help the people around me. I come from a background in music therapy, where I work with adults and children with various disabilities. After seeing the lack of support many of the individuals and their families that I work with receive, I wanted to do more. I wanted to become an advocate and voice for those who aren’t always given one, and social work was the path to do so.

What area of social work are you most interested in? Why?

It’s so difficult to choose just one path in social work, because there is so much you can do in the field. However, I am interested in dedicating most of my time, as a disability social worker. Working with individuals who have developmental disabilities has always been a passion of mine. Developmental disability social workers assess the strengths and needs of their clients so that they can find the support systems needed to help them succeed and meet their goals. As a disability social worker, I would have a holistic focus on the client. Focusing on finding the best programs that could help individuals with various disabilities cope with the challenges they may experience in their daily lives.

What made you decide to become an NASW member?

My MSW experience at USC has been enhanced and developed through the opportunities the NASW-USC unit has provided. Attending workshops, screenings, and attending Lobby Days has broadened my interest and understanding of the field of social work. Becoming an NASW member has given me the opportunity as a student to network with both students and professionals, and has given me access to valuable resources for many of my assignments. Through NASW, I am able to enhance my understanding of the field and learn advocacy techniques that could help in my development as a social worker.

What are your interests outside of social work?

Outside of social work, I spend most of my time working as a music therapist. I work as a clinician at the CSUN Music Therapy Wellness Clinic. I am a director for the Sunshine Singers Choir, which is a choir that consists of 23 individuals with developmental disabilities. I am also a choir director for the Rising Star Choir, which is a choir for children on the Spectrum. When I am not doing music therapy, I usually find myself spending time at Disneyland, concerts, or traveling.

What advice would you give to future social work students?

Don’t be scared to network and meet new people. NASW is a great tool in helping you understand the many roles a social worker could have, and could connect you with the right people.