Brian Jaklich (MSSW ’88) is the recipient of the 2018 Charles I. Wright Distinguished Alum Award presented by the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and its alumni organization, the Social Work Alumni Network (SWAN).

Brian Jaklich
Brian Jaklich, 2018 Charles I. Wright Distinguished Alum. Photo by Lynda Gonzalez

Hometown: Racine, Wisconsin

Current position: I am the social work facilitator for the Harlandale School District in San Antonio. I supervise the school district social workers and serve as a liaison with our community partners—other schools/universities and healthcare providers that we work with. I also support students dealing with homelessness by helping them access services and resources through the McKinney-Vento federal program.

Most influential social work professor: My psychopharmacology professor was so intelligent, personable, practical, and very funny. Everything she taught us could be applied to the practice of social work, and she treated everyone with respect.

Best memory from field placement: I remember one client very vividly. I worked at a crisis counseling center with a girl who had run away from home after dealing with abuse. She had dropped out of high school and had started doing drugs. The work with her was intense, but ultimately she was able to get herself back on track. She returned to school, stopped drugs, and eventually enrolled in college at Austin Community College. The main thing I remember thinking after that experience was that social work actually works! You provide support and resources to people, and they gain the skills to help themselves. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you’re going through—you can still be successful.

Your experience at UT Austin: In a word: fantastic! I learned so much, and the quality of the master of social work program is just great. The faculty members and the curriculum are top notch, and you are so well prepared when you graduate.

Most used social work practice skill: My counseling skills, which are the majority of my practice. I especially use cognitive-behavioral skills, as I help people identify their thought patterns and how they can change them. Additionally, I do a lot of linking people to resources.

Advice for social work students: Self-awareness and self-care are the keys to our profession. We have the skills to help others, but we also have to make sure that we take care of ourselves, our families, and our friends, as it is easy to get consumed in this work!

Three things you can’t live without:  My family, my daily run, and my two labs, Pebbles and Annie.

By Katherine Corley