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