The School received its 2013 graduate student cohort to campus for orientation Wednesday August 21 and Thursday August 22.

The master’s program has 112 new students coming from all over the country and as far as from India. The doctoral cohort is comprised of seven students, whose research interests span from restorative justice to military mental health and health disparities among Latino populations.

Student orientation 2013 2
Assistant Dean Jane Kretzschmar interacting with students during orientation

Dean Luis H. Zayas, Assistant Dean for Master’s Program Jane Kretzschmar, and Assistant Dean for Doctoral Education Cynthia Franklin welcomed the incoming graduate class on Wednesday morning. During the two-day orientation, students interacted with classmates, faculty, and staff in various sessions that covered topics from academic advising to graduate writing to ethics and student standards.

“What I liked the most about orientation was the student panel and the advising session,” said  incoming student Omar Hernandez. “Talking to the student panel definitely eased some of my concerns about starting school, and it was nice to hear from other students that you can work, do field and do well in classes. It may be challenging but definitely doable.”

Hernandez is starting the MSSW program as a St. David’s Foundation Bilingual Social Work Scholar. Last year the St. David’s Foundation gave $2 million to the School to help increase the number of graduates who can meet the growing need for Spanish-speaking social workers.

Among the incoming MSSW students was also Eva Jane Watkins, who is part of the first cadre of Integrated Behavioral Health Scholars (IBHS). The IBHS program, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, prepares master’s students from under-represented groups to provide culturally competent clinical behavioral health services in primary care settings that serve high need/high demand populations.

“The marriage of mental health and physical health is so critical and is so often overlooked, but the IBHS program is bringing that important link into the spotlight,” explained Watkins. “I am excited to see the changes that the IBHS program will make in the community by making mental health services a more readily available and less taboo service for underserved populations.”

Doctoral cohort 2013
2013 Doctoral Cohort

Jelena Todic, who is starting the doctoral program, is interested in quality intervention research and in leveraging university-based resources to improve community health.

“I’ve practiced social work for 11 years in the fields of intimate partner violence, health care / health disparities and social justice education,” said Todic. “I decided to pursue my PhD when I realized that becoming a researcher will position me to have a greater impact as a change agent. I am really excited about the fact that so many faculty here do important research and have a strong connection to the community and social work practice.”

Undergraduate students in the 2013 cohort have already attended one of six orientations over the summer. Eighty-four UT undergraduates have joined the School as pre-social work majors this year. Most of them are from Texas, but there are also students from as far as Oregon, New York, South Korea, and Mexico. They have expressed interest in many areas of social work, including adoption and foster care, human trafficking, domestic violence, medical social work, and clinical social work.