CSU Voices and Views

Posts tagged with Social Work

Incredible Dreamers

By Dr. Terry Jones
Professor Emeritus of Social Work
Cal State East Bay

Dr. Terry Jones in commencement regalia

Dr. Terry Jones in commencement regalia

I can count on one hand the commencements missed in my 40 years at Cal State East Bay. It isn’t difficult to imagine being on a walker in my 90s and still attending commencement in full academic regalia. Even semi-retired, it is hard to stop participating in something that is both a rite of passage and reaffirmation of society’s highest principles.

There is this overwhelming feeling of joy at commencement. Yes, some of that is the relief of graduates who finished final tests or papers to earn their degrees – but, what I see is the lights turn on for kids in the audience as they watch a mother, brother or cousin cheered across the stage. The university is no longer abstract or distant. It is a place explored by the familiar footsteps of today’s graduates. First-generation college students dream not just for themselves, but for the family and friends that will follow. More …

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Connecting Identity, Place and Community

By Rose Vasquez-Galimov
ACE Scholar and CSU San Marcos Student

Foster and adopted youth often feel particular urgency in the question: Who am I?  It took several difficult years for me to come to an answer.  I grew up on the San Pasqual Reservation.  After I turned eighteen, I returned to connect with lost family and community after more than a decade away from the Santa Ysabel Reservation of my birth father.

I have learned my identity.  I am a Kumeyaay woman of the Santa Ysabel Tribe.  I am also a student at Cal State San Marcos.  I am a person who dances to preserve a rare tradition of history, family, life and prophecy while studying to advance my tribe’s future.

The reservation and campus create two focal points for my life.  The reservation is a place of spiritual fulfillment, comfort and familiarity.  The campus is a place of opportunity, challenge and diversity.  Both of these places are crucial to shape the person I am and hope to become.

I consider myself very lucky.  Through the American Indian Recruitment Program, I had the support and encouragement of college students during high school.  Christy, a Cal State master’s student, stuck with me and helped me complete college applications.  She still occasionally helps with a little moral support.

My fortune continues at Cal State.  I find myself at a campus where I am accepted as a former foster youth and Native American woman.  I am part of the ACE Scholars program and the American Indian Student Alliance, with a safe refuge in the new campus cultural center.  I also mentor high school students as Christy once mentored me.

At Cal State, I am laying a foundation for bringing my two realities together.  I persevere in my education out of a desire to serve native people.  My goal is to finish my bachelor’s and go on to a Master’s in Social Work at San Diego State.  I believe that my experience will allow me to relate to Native American students and foster youth currently in the system. 

Ultimately, my goal is to help others create bridges between their current reality and the world of opportunity that comes with an education.

Note: Below is a video documenting Rose’s journey.

WORLDS APART from Brendan Nahmias on Vimeo.

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The Curved Path

By Chryste Lunyé Johnson
Humboldt State Alumna, BA in Psychology
Humboldt State Graduate Student, MSW

Chryste Lunyé Johnson showing her HSU pride

Chryste Lunyé Johnson showing her HSU pride

Back in my high school days – living in a poor Los Angeles neighborhood – it would have seemed impossible that I would move to the northern edge of California, bring my parents with me, and then successfully complete a bachelor’s program. 

The Educational Opportunity Program at Humboldt State made all of that possible.  The program reached out to me and encouraged me to apply to the university despite the distance.  The EOP/Student Support Services office continued to work with me to secure financial aid and get on the right educational track.  When Humboldt State EOP offered to hire me shortly after graduating with a bachelor’s in psychology, I jumped at the chance to make the same difference in the lives of other students. More …


Role Models

By Kenneth Millar
Dean of the College of Health and Human Services
CSU Long Beach

Kenneth Millar in his office

Kenneth Millar

The path of my career – from social worker, to professor, to director and now dean – started with the first class I took with my college mentor, Professor Richard McDonald.  He was a role model that exemplified the principles I believe in: social justice, democratic social change, public service, equity and empathy.  Professor McDonald had his master’s in Social Work, so it seemed fitting that I would also go for an MSW when I completed my undergraduate degree.  It was a start for what would be a lifelong journey in higher education.

Positive role models are critical throughout life.  Too often, adults entrusted to be parents, guardians and role models are instead the source of pain, abuse and upheaval in a young person’s life.  Perhaps the most difficult part of social work involving families is facing how truly vulnerable children are, and how cruel some people can be.  More …


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