Welcome from GSSW Admissions   3 comments

Hello Everyone!

As you begin your journey to learn more about the world of social work, the University of Denver, and our Graduate School as a whole, I hope you will enjoy our personal reflections and stories.   While you’re perusing the blog please don’t hesitate to take a second to ask a question or two to any of the guides.  Also, if you have any questions pertaining to admission or the program as a whole, please feel free to email me at gssw-admission@du.edu or give our office a call at (303)-871-2841.

Happy reading!

Nick Ota-Wang

Office of Admission


Welcome to the Experience Social Work Blog   1 comment

Hello- Hopefully you’ve reached this page in your journey to learn more about social work, the University of Denver, and the Graduate School of Social Work.  Click through the topics above, visit the guides on the left and enjoy your journey.

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Posted November 16, 2010 by Ryan G - Technology Guru in Uncategorized

Four years, until we meet again GSSW   Leave a comment

August 15, 2011 was my first day with the Admission office at the Graduate School of Social Work. I came in to my office mate, and an office door (a first in my career).

GSSW sign 2011

Four years later I leave DU, GSSW and my time in Craig Hall with celebration, memories, and lifetime colleagues. Today, October 21, 2015 I end my amazing time at GSSW with a smile.

GSSW sign 2015

GSSW sign 2011 and 2015

GSSW building GSSW sign

Four years changes a person for the better and GSSW has changed me for the better.

I wish all my MSW, PhD, and all other degree holding colleagues only the best with the remainder of the school year.

It never rains in Colorado especially in October and it did today. Let this important part of life, and of the water cycle reminder us that things change, colleagues move on, but the relationships that are built remain. Thank you to all for making my time at GSSW so wonderful.

As the great half human says a lot in Star Trek

Life Long and Prosper,

Nick Ota-Wang

GSSW Admission Assistant


Posted October 21, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized

Graduation Hindsight   Leave a comment

Graduation brings a mixture of grief and excitement. Grief, due to the melancholy realization that the MSW journey has come to an end; being a student is wonderful in so many ways. And excitement, for the next step and for honoring all this hard work(!)

For my last blog, I’d like to share with anyone who may read, things I wished I had done differently and those that went just fine:

hindsight-quotes-1 (1)

I wish I would have…

      took the first year (and second, for that matter) internship search process waay slower. While I think any internship can be a learning experience, I wish I would have explored a wider range of options, especially since I’m one of those ambivalent community/clinical students

      been way more involved at GSSW!!! I tried to get involved in clubs/student orgs my second year but really wish I would have hit the ground running from the onset. Let’s just say your GSSW classmates accomplish some amaaazing things. 

      entered a race or some sort of sports league. intramural leagues are available through the Ritchie center but I never jumped on it. Keeping a regimented and sane exercise routine proved difficult to say the least.

      taken classes in different concentrations. I chose OLPP, which was fabulous. However, the one clinical class I took was very enriching and I wish I would have branched out more from the onset…there’s that ambivalence again!

I’m patting myself on the back for…


       doing the Certificate for Social Work with Latinos/as. Not only did this program help me explore my own mixed race identity and what that means for my social work practice, I got to truly get to know 10 amazing people. Developing relationships aside, the type of teaching within the certificate really allowed me to be vulnerable, take risks, and grow as a result. 

figuring out my work-school-social-home life balance. Having work-study and a part-time job almost seemed like too much at first, but it ultimately worked and the extra dollars cut down on the stress of making ends meet.

moving to the mountains! It seemed way to far away but i absolutely love it out here and the drive is totally worth it.

     pushing myself to learnIn my opinion, regardless of the instructor, you get what you put into any class. Admittedly challenging at times, I’m glad I tried my darndest to do the readings, be present in class discussion, and put effort into assignments. As a result, I feel changed for the better and grateful for the opportunity to learn and develop as a person, and as a social worker. 

Harvest on the Rio Grande dedication ceremony   Leave a comment

Harvest on the Rio Grande – Dedication Ceremony

On Wednesday, May 6, 2015 from 4:00pm – 5:30pm in the Quadrangle east of Craig Hall, University of Denver 2148 South High Street, Denver 80208 GSSW, the University of Denver, and community members had a dedication ceremony for the Harvest on the Rio Grande sculptures generously donated to the University of Denver.

The site selected for the work, adjacent to the Graduate School of Social Work, celebrates shared themes of family and community. The artist will attend the dedication ceremony, which will include a Native blessing. GSSW Dean James Herbert Williams and DU Chancellor Rebecca Chopp spoke. We hope you will join us as we welcome the six life-size figures of Harvest on the Rio Grande into the University of Denver community!

To learn more about the sculptures please visit: http://www.du.edu/socialwork/gsswnews/2015/15-4-sculpture.html

Please see below for pictures of the ceremony.

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2014-2015 GSSW Faculty & Staff Award Winners announced   Leave a comment

Congratulations to all the award winners!

2015 GSSW Award receipients

The Hyde Sculpture Garden at GSSW   Leave a comment

The Hyde Sculpture Garden has been installed. The sculptures, entitled “Harvest on the Rio Grande”, were created by Douglas Hyde and donated to DU by Gerri Cohen. Mrs. Cohen’s husband was a long-time member of the DU Board of Trustees. Chancellor Emeriti Ritchie & Coombs both requested that the sculpture garden be given to GSSW. A dedication celebration which will include a shaman’s blessing will take place on Wednesday, May 6 at 4:00 p.m. out by the garden.

All faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend.

Watch the main GSSW Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/GSSWDenver) for further information about the shaman blessing on May 6.

Pic1 Pic2 Pic3 Pic4 Pic5

Come check out the sculpture garden just east of GSSW on the green near Frontier Hall.

A Student Perspective on the Certificate for Social Work with Latinos/as   Leave a comment


The certificate program consists of 4 mandatory classes and a field placement that includes at least 30% time in Spanish. The four classes are:

1. Critical Perspectives in the Latino Context: taught by Oscar Samoza, this class is a great way to get a taste for using Spanish academically and to draw upon the wealth of knowledge Oscar brings to the table. Less focused and structured than other classes, this was also a great space to get to know classmates and hear about Oscar’s background. This was on class that was always a joy to go to. Oscar is open to discussing anything anyone may have curiosity about, including slang and Latino film. PMX6

2.Social Work and Mexican Culture: this class is the trip to Puebla, MX. I know in the future students will have the option of going to Costa Rica which honestly saddens me a bit. Especially if you are invested in the politics of immigration and working with Latinos/as in Colorado, Mexico seems indispensable. The two weeks in Puebla ended up affecting me very profoundly as a Mexican-American and as a social worker. While the immersion part of the trip is really up to everyone in the room (and at times was difficult to keep up), the cultural immersion and educational components were extremely impactful in deepening my understanding of US-Mexico relations and the experience of everyday people.


3. Social Work Interventions with Latinos/as: this was a great way to continue connecting with students from the trip as well as others passionate about affecting change with/for this population. This course covered a wide variety of topics and lent itself to the clinical context, particularly challenging in Spanish. The guest speakers were fabulous and the site visits worthwhile. This might be tough for my fellow macro folks but helpful nonetheless.

4. Social Development in Latin America: I have yet to take this course and will updated when I do! So far, I have heard good things and know it will be offered over two weekends in English.


Aside from the academic aspect of this program, there is a strong community-building component. Personally, I had hoped to make stronger ties at GSSW, however that can be a challenge with the quarter system where there are long breaks and extreme bouts of busy-ness. The certificate program was exactly what I needed and I feel very close to those in the program. The two people I roomed with are people I spend a lot of time with now.

In addition to classroom learning and friendship, the certificate coordinator, Stephen Von Merz is a really great support system. His experience and willingness to share expertise is invaluable. I personally have gained a lot from him being my adviser and have come to consider him a mentor.
PMX2All in all, the Certificate for Social Work with Latinos/as has been extremely formative in my graduate education, shaping my passions, cementing my language abilities, and linking me to amazing individuals.

Why you should present at the Grad Research and Performance Summit   Leave a comment

Last week, a group of students from the Certificate for Social Work with Latinos/as and I presented at the DU Graduate Research and Performance Summit (DU RAPS). Along with a handful of other MSW students, we contributed our perspective and shared a framework that can often be quite different from that of other academic programs.


Specifically, we shared our experiential learning from the Puebla, MX trip and discussed our views on immigration, influenced both by our classroom learning and field experience. Overall,  presenting at DU RAPS was challenging and valuable as a growth experience. We were placed in a section titled “Power, Privilege, and Resistance” with one other presenter from GSSW, one from Performance Studies, and one from Communication Studies. I was proud to be contributing to the conversation from an applied perspective and to be learning from others with differing theoretical frameworks.

I want this blog to encourage others to present in the future. We make up a significant portion of the Graduate student population on campus (totaling at approximately 6,000). We have strong foundations in social justice, human rights, and ecological approaches. We bring a perspective that differs from other departments, in that we directly apply our learning every week in our field placements. Furthermore, as professionals in the field, I think it is important to have these interdisciplinary dialogues outside of our social work-framed conversations. After all, if our aim is to effect social change, we can’t be relegated to conversations amongst one another.


Just to demystify DU RAPS, here are some (I hope) helpful insights about the summit:

  • You can present on research, you can perform a piece, or you can reflect on experiential learning (something we are extremely well-versed in doing :)).
  • The application process is somewhat simple with just a 250 word abstract for the presentation.
  • Presentations happen in break-out rooms that are themed to group the different presenters together. Rooms can hold up to 50 people. You have access to things like power-point or images if that seems appropriate.
  • Your presentation can be no longer than 10 minutes but it’s more of a gentle warning rather than a cut off.
  • The facilitator will draw connections between the presentations and ask for you to dialogue.
  • Everyone is very welcoming and in the spirit of encouraging this cross-disciplinary event.
  • There is free food!

I hope to see more GSSW presenters in the future and I hope we all grow from the interdisciplinary dialogues this event promotes.


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