Budding social workers may not realize that the very profession with which they hope to change the world changes them too. For Genevieve Garceau, social work was both a refining fire and a toolbox during her leap into young adulthood.
Raised in a town that is 96.7% white on the coast of Connecticut, Genevieve was looking for something different. When she first stepped onto UT Austin’s campus, feeling the warmth of the Texas sun and seeing the twisting beauty of the live oaks, she was struck by the impression that this university was a city within a city. The students were immediately helpful and kind, and the social work program was highly ranked.
Genevieve fell in love with the campus and subsequently with Austin. She has spent the past four years exploring the city via scooter, finding the best tacos in the city, and taking advantage of the watersports on Lady Bird Lake.
Genevieve didn’t realize that social work was a field until her junior year of high school. Unfortunately, the expectation in her community was that success primarily came through the selection of something in the STEM field. Genevieve faced a lot of judgment for her decision, but her parents were supportive, and this experience began, even then, the journey of developing resilience.
Genevieve’s time at SHSSW taught her not only about the pillars and principles of social work, but also how to be independent and how to thrive in ambiguity and discomfort. Some of this discomfort came in her junior year of the program, when a conversation with a coworker revealed her own blind spots. She realized that she had been living an unauthentic life; she began grappling with her identity as a transcultural adoptee and as a Guatemalan-American.
She walked through what is known in the adoption world as “the fog”, coming out of this difficult time once she obtained her adoption papers. These four sheets of paper written in Spanish held her origins, and she would carry this with her and determine her own journey. In an ironic twist, these papers were drafted by a Guatemalan social worker, an individual who could not know that the child they had written these documents for was now following in their footsteps.
During her time at SHSSW, Genevieve also has served on the student senate DEI committee and the Steve Hicks School of Social Work DEI committee. She is proud of her growth in her ability to network. Additionally, Genevieve served as the very first Director of Equity and Inclusion on the Social Work Council over the course of her senior year.
Genevieve will be heading back north this fall to pursue her MSSW from Boston College. As she looks to the future, her ultimate dream is to develop and create a multi-wellness clinic with a holistic approach to healthcare. The more she learns, the more she wants this dream clinic to be accessible to all people, particularly the uninsured and the undocumented.
Throughout her time at SHSSW, Genevieve has pursued compassion, honesty, and transparency in her academic life and desires to take all these things into her future work. She acknowledges that the field of social work has a high burnout rate, and that this profession has the potential to shake a new student to their core. However, she offers hope to those future social workers: “You should not let that scare or deter you. When you are given the right set of tools, you can accomplish anything.” Genevieve’s own journey is a testament to her words.
Congratulations to Genevieve Garceau, BSW ’22.