WHO: Marica Wright, MSSW ’19
WHAT AND WHERE: Hired as Program Coordinator at Victims Advocate Network (VAN) at The University of Texas at Austin Police Department. In 2019 VAN launched as a 24-hour, on-call network consisting of UT-Austin faculty and staff volunteers to serve employees, students, and visitors who are impacted by crime or a distressing event on campus.
HOW: Before entering graduate school, Wright worked with youth in long-term residential treatment, and with child abuse victims and their families. Through this experience, she gained first-hand understanding of the successes, dysfunctions and failures of all systems levels, and how they directly impact clients.
In her first field placement with the Healthy Homes Program at the Harker Heights Police Department, Wright experienced how much interface there is between law enforcement and individuals in need of social work services. She understood how vital it is that social workers help meet the needs of communities but also alleviate the burden placed on police officers who are not trained to be social workers. With her previous experience in victim services, police and service providers, VAN seemed like the perfect fit for her second field placement.
“It was incredibly exciting to start with VAN in the same month as the launch of the program,” Wright said. “This gave me the rare opportunity to understand the critical time that is a program’s infancy.”
THE FUTURE: At VAN, Wright helped create the program’s infrastructure while designing and implementing recruitment strategies and collaborating with officers and local service providers to serve victims of crime. Wright said she looks forward to continuing this work as VAN’s new full-time program coordinator.
“I’m incredibly excited to see what the future holds for this program,” she said. “I’m forever grateful to the Steve Hicks School of Social Work for equipping me with the knowledge and skills that I carry with me in my work, grateful to the mentors and supervisors who have guided me and shaped me into the professional I am today.”