An American story: Dora Gonzalez
2015-2016 Tu-Ting and Rachel Tsan Endowed Presidential Scholar
Dora Gonzalez grew up listening to her Mexican father and Honduran mother talk about their stories of immigration to the United States. But her parents never discussed openly that they were undocumented. Gonzalez found out the hard way when her father was deported.
As a social work student with a passion for research, Gonzalez spent her junior year interviewing parents like hers to find out what drives them, how they cope with the difficulties related to their legal status, and whether they have plans for their families in case of deportation. Gonzalez graduated this past May as a College Scholar with a double degree in social work and American studies, and she is now pursuing a master of social work.She laughs softly at the comment that her parents must be very proud of her achievements.
“I would hope so!” she says. “They are just like, ‘Good, you are doing what you are supposed to do.’ But I do know that they talk about me with pride to friends and family.”
Hidden Austin treasures
Daniel B. and Vicki Ross Endowed Scholarship in Social Work
What do the historic Allan House in downtown Austin and the School of Social Work have in common? Dan and Vicki Ross discovered both, gave them some TLC, and want them to be recognized and appreciated.
The Rosses, who met on the Forty Acres while in Plan II (Dan) and film (Vicki), found and restored the Allan House in the late 1990s. They discovered social work two decades later, when Dan learned through his legal practice how essential social work researchers and expert witnesses can be in the successful and efficient prosecution of sexual assault cases.
“Most people don’t know the variety of jobs that social workers do. I didn’t either, my eyes were opened as I became involved with the school,” Dan says.
The Rosses have now have created a scholarship that will fund social work students with a passion for ending sexual assault or helping individuals struggling with addictions.
“We wanted to give back by supporting a school that is under-recognized despite its high ranking, and despite how important social workers are for society,” Dan says.
“Through the scholarship, we will be supporting someone who will be coming up with real solutions to these problems,” Vicki adds. “We can’t wait to see who the first student recipient is.”
Social work at the courthouse
Judge Pat Shelton and family: Elizabeth, Hayley, Ian and David Scott Shelton Endowed Fellowship
During his time at Houston’s 313th family district court, Judge Pat Shelton encountered many cases involving child abuse and neglect. He learned the value of social work when having to make decisions about these complicated cases.
“As judge, I can’t leave the courtroom and do field work. I relied on social workers, who bring their hands-on experience to these cases: they go to where people live, where the action is, they do the leg work. They obviously play a crucial part in looking at the best interest of the child, but they also educate folks at a hearing, including the judge. We see the benefits of social work everyday at the courthouse, in little and large ways.”
His experience in the courtroom inspired Judge Shelton to support the School of Social Work, first giving annual scholarships and then underwriting an annual training for Child Protective Service social workers. After learning about the growing collaboration between social work and the new Dell Medical School, Judge Shelton decided to establish an endowed fellowship for students interested in medical social work.
“With the cost of education today, I thought that an endowment to help defray some of that cost for social work students, every year, was the logical way to help. It is an honor to recognize the special people who give their professional lives to such worthy and consequential causes.”
Why I Give
Kathy Rider (MSSW ’69) came to the Forty Acres in the early 1960s as a pre-med student.
“Back then they only gave one recommendation per year to a woman to go to medical school. It would have been three more years before it was my turn and I didn’t have the time to spare!” she remembers.
A stint as dorm counselor during her junior year had stirred Rider’s interest in mental health. She traded medicine for social work and has never looked back. She has practiced clinical social work for over 45 years, was on the field faculty at UT Austin, was active in NASW and the Texas Society for Clinical Social Work, is a fellow of AGPA, and a past president of New Milestones Foundation. She is married to a native Austinite, and they have three grown children and four grandchildren.
“I donate to the School of Social Work every year because I believe in giving back and that we have a responsibility to help new social workers on their journey,” Rider says.