First Bilingual Scholarship Recipients Graduate, Enter Workforce
March 1, 2010
By Eric Pickhartz
Several bilingual scholarship recipients already have completed their graduate social work programs and are working in mental health-related fields in Texas. The Hogg Foundation spoke with two recent graduates to find out how they are applying their newly gained knowledge, skills and experience.
Flor Avellaneda, a Baylor graduate, is in Waco working with Communities in Schools, the nation's largest nonprofit dropout prevention program. She helps 130 sixth- through eighth-grade children and their families with tutoring, counseling, group work, interventions, and, most importantly, language translation, all in an attempt to keep kids in school.
Elizabeth Castaneda, a Texas State University graduate, is coordinating a grant-funded program at the San Marcos university called College Access Challenge. "We work with high school students and parents addressing issues that prevent children from going to college," Castaneda said. "We also do community outreach for anyone who needs pre-college information."
Both cited their internship experience, often required as part of the master's program curriculum, as one of the most memorable and important aspects of their time spent studying social work. Castaneda interned as a health and human services senior policy analyst, an experience she says helped her prepare for work after graduation.
Avellaneda interned at the Ruth Project, providing legal immigration services and community resource referrals to Hispanic clients in Waco. "I loved every minute of my internship," she said. "Social work is my passion and serving people in need is what I love to do with my life."
Avellaneda said returning to graduate school would have been difficult, if not impossible, without the scholarship.
"I was very involved academically. Trying to juggle a part-time job, school, and a 40-hour-a-week internship would have been incredibly difficult," she said. "The scholarship helped tremendously."
Castaneda agreed. "The grant helped me significantly because I was able to go to school full-time. There would have been no way I could have done it otherwise," she said.