Ian Bell
Ian Bell, MSSW ’18

Hometown: I’m a military brat so I’ve lived a bunch of places, but San Antonio, TX was my last stop.

Why social work? I knew I wanted to come back to The University of Texas at Austin after getting my undergrad in psychology here. I also knew I wanted to be a therapist and give back to the veteran community, and was compelled by social work’s commitment to social justice.

Favorite on campus experience: Creating a policy brief on military sexual trauma with an awesome group of people. I learned so much from the research and from my fellow group members and it is a piece of work that I truly cherish. Off-campus, my favorite experience was playing basketball with clients at my first internship as a therapeutic intervention.

Most challenging time at he Forty Acres: Balancing being a full-time student, and a part-time intern at the UT Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center. It was difficult to hold both the emotional and academic demands, but it forced me to learn what kind of self-care works the best for me.

Best moment at your social work internship: The first time a client told me I was helpful. The fact that what I had said, the resources I gave, and the intervention I used actually improved somebody’s quality of life.

Favorite professors: Professors Mitch Sudolsky and Michelle Rountree were my favorite professors as they are both committed to social justice, and were able to foster insight for me as a person, social worker, and clinician. They both know so much, and yet are open to being challenged and aren’t afraid to admit when they are wrong and don’t know something. The humility in which they teach was, and continues to be inspiring.

On Black Graduation: It was a celebration of the strength of my identity, and what it has meant in my journey in becoming a social worker. It was also great to be with other Black social workers and celebrate what we had overcome to get to this point along with the other Black graduates. It felt like an institution that was made for me, which can be rare at this university and in this state.

Plans for the future: I have accepted a fellowship position at the Counseling and Mental Health Center, so I’ll continue my clinical work. In the future I would love to be able to be in a position to provide therapy to veterans and shape how services are delivered to this population.

Words of wisdom for the incoming MSSW class: Be humble, ask questions, challenge who you think you are.

Posted May 19, 2018