As we began 2014, our dear friend -- and longtime member of the CSULB School of Social Work family -- Dr. Agathi Glezakos retired.
As we wish her the best in this next exciting phase of her life, we want to remember a few highlights of a truly impressive and inspiring career here. In her own words, Agathi shares some of her memories of this time.
This past December 31st, 2013, the time had come for me to end my teaching career in the School of Social Work at California State University Long Beach (CSULB) – a career that began in the Fall semester of 1973. As I enter retirement, I reflect upon the multiple opportunities, support systems, and life circumstances that contributed to my choosing social work as a profession and teaching social work to undergraduate and graduate social work students over the span of 40 years.
My career as a social worker began with the decision to enter the undergraduate program of Social Welfare at Pierce College, the all female American College in Athens, Greece, in the Fall of 1958. In the course of four undergraduate years, with internships in different social service settings, I came to appreciate and value the social work profession, a profession that most Greeks, including my most immediate family, knew nothing about.
Their belief was that doing the things that I was going to school to study about was what anyone with a “good” heart could do. However, my experience was that the fundamental tenets of social work practice - including, but not limited to, social justice, acceptance and inclusion, equality and just distribution of resources - were not part of my childhood experiences in the post-civil war political and welfare environment of Greece.
And during my short period of practice, I also discovered that when these tenets are applied in human interactions, particularly in the interactions between a helping agent and the individual seeking help, their effect on the one receiving help can be empowering. I knew then that I wanted to become an empowering agent.
We spoke with Erika Klohe, one of our outstanding MSW students in CSULB’s Distance Education program, who was recently featured in a series of articles for Petaluma360.com, and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Erika is a Family Service Coordinator at Buckelew, a county-wide organization that serves the mentally ill. Erika talked about some of the challenges and rewards of her job.
Erika Klohe: I’ve worked closely with Petaluma PD for 4 years to advocate for the community, and decrease risk for Police -– as a Family Service coordinator, it’s been my experience that sometimes families going through a mental health crisis have to call police, and don't understand the protocols.
School of Social Work: What are some of the things social workers are doing to help families in crisis and the police who respond to them?
EK: People are experiencing symptoms that are scary for themselves and loved ones, but at the same time, civil rights shouldn't be hindered.
This past year, a group of CSULB Community Projects students helped veterans literally put a brighter face on military service trauma, working at the Long Beach VA Hospital.
The students spent an entire semester (Spring 2013) researching this population and the history and data behind Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST).
During the second semester (Summer 2013), the students decided to do a self-care “Beautiful” day for female veterans that experienced sexual trauma in the military.
The School of Social Work spoke recently with Brooke Clavesilla, one of our outstanding MSW students at CSULB.
Brooke has been very busy in her internship at Housing Long Beach, involved in recruiting and training low-income community leaders, walking the streets to encourage voter engagement, conducting community meetings, analyzing policies and stuffing envelopes, and the list goes on.
On January 7th Brooke presented testimony to the Long Beach City Council as they debated the future of housing in Long Beach as part of the development of a State-required housing plan that will guide Long Beach development for the next 8 years, and beyond.
Simulation sets are designed for role-playing training session for social workers, by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
Students and professors at Cal State L.A. and Cal State Long Beach (including Child Welfare Training Centre Director, James Ferreira) helped design and construct the sets: including replicas of a courtroom, a hospital and an apartment, with realistic-looking props, including cockroaches and cocaine.
The simulation is part of a revamped training process that replaces eight weeks of PowerPoint presentations about policies and procedures with a year-long program that gives inexperienced social workers hands-on training that includes role-playing, ride-alongs and mentoring.
Every year, CSULB MSW social work students break into small groups to assess and engage communities during Community Projects I & II.
(left to right: One group of Students holds a Literacy Night, and another creates a powerful presentation about Sex Trafficking)
Whether designing new intake or volunteer recruitment procedures, improving groups serving siblings of children with autism, training teachers to work better with the GLBTQ populations, training youth to reduce human trafficking or police confrontations, increasing awareness of mental health programs, improving voter turn-out, or encouraging social advocacy to reduce the impact of environmental toxicity, these projects are making a difference in the communities served by the School of Social Work.
All this hard work not only benefits the community directly, but the projects these students undertake can provide a wealth of information and resources far beyond the framework of one semester of experience.
If you would like to learn more, click on the link below to see this impressive work in detail.
The School of Social Work is proud to acknowledge that on Dec 12th, at the Alpert Jewish Community Center, CSULB alum Tory Cox (LCSW/PPS) was awarded the 2013 Annual Prevention Award, by the End Abuse Long Beach Child Abuse & Domestic Violence Prevention Council .
Tory is the Assistant Director of Field Education and Clinical Associate Professor at the USC School of Social Work, as well as the Field Coordinator for the Social Work & Business in a Global Society Concentration.
Farrah Ferris, Senior BSW student at CSULB has been selected as one of NASW California Chapter's first Native American Birdwoman Scholars. She has the distinction of being the only recipient in the Greater Los Angeles area. Ms. Ferris was kind enough take time to discuss what the scholarship, Social Work and her connection to the Native American community means to her.
School of Social Work: So from what you told us, the Birdwoman Scholarship came about from a woman who was a Native American social worker. Tell us a little about the Native American tribal experience growing up.
Farrah Ferris: I’m from the village of Medildiñ in the Hoopa Valley, which is the largest reservation in California. Even so, it is only 12 square miles, with a population of around 3,500 people. Fishing is a huge part of the Hoopa way of life, and right now they are fighting for the release of four dams. Salmon has been a sustainable food source for them for centuries.
Recently the CSULB School of Social Work was proud to learn that two of its alumni from the MSW Program had received prestigious awards from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.
We sat down with Jeffrey Baer (MSW @ CSULB, Employee of The Year) and Kendra Lyman (BSW & MSW @ CSULB, Team Award Winner) at their workplace at the Long Beach Child and Adolescent Program, along with Heather Jensen (Program Director, Long Beach State alumna) and Jean Lima (37 years with LACDMH, co-winner of Team Award with Kendra).
School of Social Work: How do you think your MSW helped you/didn’t help you prepare for this job?
Kendra: I think the best part of the MSW was the internship. But there were definitely a couple of professors who helped encourage me or guide me at times when I needed it.
Both Jeff and Kendra’s internships were with Long Beach Child and Adolescent Program (LBCAP).
Jeff: Right, it was like it didn’t seem as real until the internship. That was a question I had while I was in the program, but in reality, there is no way to prepare you. The education is a part of it, but it is also your experience, that you bring to it...
al State Long Beach graduate student Lupita Cardenas’ research on unorthodox healing methods in the Latino community took her to the U.S. Virgin Islands last week. Click HERE to read more!