We are proud of our alumni and the positive impact they are making in their communities. Below, we celebrate the accomplishments that have been shared with us, starting with the 2018 Distinguished Alum awardee.
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CURRENT POSITION: Social work facilitator for the Harlandale School District in San Antonio. I supervise district social workers and serve as a liaison with community partners. I also support students dealing with homelessness by helping them access resources through the McKinney-Vento federal program. A MEMORY FROM FIELD: I worked at a crisis counseling center with a girl who had run away from home after dealing with abuse. She had dropped out of high school and started doing drugs. The work was intense but ultimately she was able to get herself back on track. She returned to school, stopped drugs, and eventually enrolled in college. After this experience, I remember thinking that social work actually works! You provide support and resources to people, and they gain the skills to help themselves. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you’re going through — you can still be successful. MOST USED PRACTICE SKILL: My counseling skills. I especially use cognitive-behavioral skills, as I help people identify their thought patterns and how they can change them. Additionally, I also help people connect to resources. ADVICE FOR SOCIAL WORK STUDENTS: Self-awareness and self-care are the keys to our profession. We have the skills to help others, but we also have to make sure that we take care of ourselves, our families and our friends. It is easy to get consumed in this work! THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT: My family, my daily run and my two labs, Pebbles and Annie.
The annual Charles I. Wright Distinguished Alum Award is sponsored by the Social Work Alumni Network (SWAN). Jaklich received his award at SWAN’s Third Annual Alumni Reunion, March 26, 2018.
Dieter Gaupp, MSSW‘52, is active in Denton’s City Coalition. He brings a holistic perspective to the discussion and helps everybody get from big ideas to reality. He wrote, “I have been pleased that the chair will turn to me and ask if I have questions, probably because I have a different approach. I think that frequently social workers are the only ones who maintain a holistic approach, knowing how the pieces fit together.”
Jeanette Smiecinski (nee Pierce), BSW ’82, switched fields from social work to accounting to be able to have better earnings. She uses her social work and counseling skills as a volunteer with Boy Scouts of America and an Episcopal church group for young adults. She enjoys volunteering as a mentor for young individuals with ADHD and Spectrum Disorder. She feels that as a volunteer, she is already doing what she want to do as she reaches retirement. Jeanette loved her experience at UT Austin and feels that she gained much personal growth.
Michael Burke, MSSW ‘88, is living in Indianapolis. He is working as a behavioral health consultant in a primary care setting. He enjoys the work and feels he reaches people who would not otherwise seek mental health counseling.
Cathleen Caballero (nee Brady), MSSW ‘89, recently completed training and certification to become a parent-child interaction certified therapist. She is looking forward to becoming a field instructor in the near future.
Dawn Nelson, MSSW ‘90, has recently moved her private practice location to Rockwall, Texas where she provides counseling services to adults and children. In addition, she is a board-approved supervisor and is faculty for Texas A&M-Commerce.
Judge Stuti Trehan Patel, BSW ‘93, and her husband Hiren Raman Patel are proud to announce that their son Dhilan Patel has fulfilled his destiny to become a Longhorn! He graduated with honors in May 2018 from Elkins High School (Missouri City, Texas) and will be attending McCombs School of Business in the Fall. Judge Patel and her husband are excited to have Dhilan continue the Trehan/Patel family’s Longhorn legacy!
Rachel Fusco, MSSW ’95, is an associate professor at the University of Georgia’s School of Social Work. She is also chair in health and wellness at the Georgia Athletic Association. Rachel received her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. Her current research focuses on supporting mothers with opioid-use disorder to increase treatment adherence so that they can engage in safe and loving parenting.
Lacey Sloan, PhD ‘97, MSSW ’92, has just returned from Mogadishu, Somalia where she is serving as a UNICEF consultant. She is facilitating the development of certificate, diploma and bachelor’s in social work programs for six universities. All together, the universities will admit 240 students on full scholarships funded by UNICEF. Social workers are seen as critical players to support the redevelopment of Somalia and the safety and security of women and girls.
Michael Kevin Lucas, MSSW 98, is deputy director of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Association. Michael received his Juris Doctor from the University of California, Berkeley in 2005.
Jennifer Carter Dochler, BSW ‘00, has been teaching both online and face-to-face at the University of Missouri’s School of Social Work since 2008. She teaches “Contemporary Issues in Domestic Violence,” which was originally created at UT Austin by Fran Danis. After Danis left the University of Missouri, Jennifer started teaching the course and has converted it to part of the online program. She has worked at the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence for more than 15 years in multiple staff roles and currently is Public Policy Director. Prior to that, she worked for NASW-MO as their political-action campaign organizer.
Carol (Carrie) Martin Jankowski, MSSW ’01, is a field education coordinator at the University of Oklahoma Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work.
Ashley de Jong, MSSW ‘04, is a grassroots organizer for the “Beto for Texas” U.S. Senate campaign in the SW Austin headquarters. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mia Sneed, MSSW ‘05, relocated back to her hometown and has joined Nashville State Community College as the compliance and diversity officer in May of this year.
Shamyla Tareen, MSSW ‘06, teaches a one-credit class about student success for incoming freshman at Montgomery College (a community college in Montgomery County, Md.) through the Counseling and Advising department. Shamyla also has a private practice in Silver Spring, Md. where she works with young adults using CBT and mindfulness techniques. She is working on her certification in mind body medicine with the Center for Mind Body Medicine in Washington, D.C.
Christopher Quaglino, MSSW ‘07, took a position after graduating as the full time/on-call mental health therapist at Gary Job Corps in San Marcos, Texas. At Job Corps, there are 1200+ students from ages 16 to 27 getting a new start on life. Christopher was known as Mr. Q, and feels honored to have helped many young people work through everything from life questions and goals to developing self knowledge and coping skills for managing major and minor mental illnesses. He is proud to have witnessed so many examples of resilience, courage and strength in these students. Christopher is now opening a private practice office in Austin and is excited to be of assistance to young people here. His motto is, “There is no need to feel stuck or suffer any longer. Let’s get started!” He can be found at www.itoiaustin.com.
Laurel (Klein) Freedman, MSSW ‘08, BSW ‘04, is working on patient advocacy and provider education in the field of medical cannabis.
Derek Kerl, MSSW ‘09, works at Community Care at the David Powell Health Center in Austin. He manages a team of behavioral-health clinicians and medical social workers, supervises (UT Austin!) interns, and provides clinical supervision to LMSWs who are working toward an LCSW license. The clinic provides medical and behavioral health care to over 2600 HIV-positive individuals who live in Austin and the surrounding areas.
Colette Nies, MSSW ‘10, is in the Doctor of Ministry program in Land, Food and Faith Formation at Memphis Theological Seminary. She owns an oil and gas services LLC (Colette Von Hanna Energy), is a chaplain, and operates the health and spirituality website www.juiceartist.com.
Jessica Boston, MSSW ‘11, accepted a position as director of policy and advocacy with Deeds Not Words, a nonprofit led by Wendy Davis that stands for workplace equality, access to reproductive health, an end to campus sexual assault, and justice for women everywhere.
Alexandra DeHoff, MSSW ‘11, has transitioned to private practice after working at a psychiatric hospital for nearly six years. She now has an 11-month-old baby girl at home and spends most of her time with her. She wrote, “While my baby girl is my primary joy, I also enjoy continuing my social work career through my therapy practice with Colors of Austin Counseling. One day at a time!”
Isaac Akapnitis, MSSW ‘12, was offered a faculty associate position with the ASU School of Social Work this past July. He will be teaching LGBTQ issues online as part of ASU’s LGBTQ Studies Certificate. Isaac is looking forward to working with students in social work and other disciplines this semester, and teaching topics near and dear to his heart.
Gerald (Jerry) Cochran, PhD ‘12, started a new position this past July with the University of Utah School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Epidemiology. He is an associate professor and director of research of PARCKA (Program for Addiction Research, Clinical Care, Knowledge, and Advocacy). He lives on a street named Longhorn Drive and of course the postal abbreviation on the zip code is UT. He writes, “The address is not a joke, just serendipity—hook’em horns!”
Jeremy Goldbach, PhD ‘12, MSSW ’08, is director of the Center for LGBT Health Equity and an associate professor of social work at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Goldbach’s research focuses on the negative health effects of discrimination in the LGBTQ population and developing effective interventions to address these negative health outcomes.
Jorge Renaud, MSSW ‘12 , has joined the Prison Policy Initiative as senior policy analyst. This new role marks a return to policy work after three years of community organizing, most recently at Grassroots Leadership in Austin. Jorge is an accomplished writer: While incarcerated, he wrote as a contributing columnist for Hispanic Link Weekly Report, published poetry and essays, and authored a book, Behind the Walls: A Guide for Families and Friends of Texas Prison Inmates.
Emmie Knox, MSSW ’13, and her husband Louis LeSassier opened Assisting Hands Home Care in Austin almost two years ago. They are thoroughly enjoying serving seniors in the community. They also have a baby on the way!
Linda Rangel, MSSW ’13, has moved to Boston, where she started a social work position with the Department of Children and Families. She is already bracing for the winter!
Codi Tranel, MSSW ’13, has joined Packed with Purpose, a specialty gift company that handpicks products for their gift boxes from purveyors who transform individuals and communities in positive ways.
Caroline Turner, MSSW ‘13, moved to Denver, Colorado in early August. She started a new job as community development manager with Trumpet Behavioral Health (TBH), a national provider of applied behavioral analysis to support individuals with autism. They are currently in eight states and growing rapidly across the country, including just starting in Austin. Caroline is thrilled to join a talented team and help spread TBH values nationwide.
Brady L. Varga, MSSW ’13, is a social worker at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Scottish Rite.
Elizabeth Adkins, MSSW ‘14, BSW ‘13, is working at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. She and the Texas Children’s Social Work Team were very busy after Hurricane Harvey devastated the city with catastrophic flooding in August of 2017. She wrote a blog post about this experience and to share tips and resources for natural disaster preparation.
Valencia Campbell, BSW ‘15, graduated from law school and is studying for the bar.
Arnold Cantu, MSSW ‘15, has moved out of Texas for the first time in his life! He grew up in South Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, moved to Austin in 2013 for graduate school, and worked at a local public charter school afterwards. This past spring his significant other, Dara, wrapped up medical school and matched at the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) for an Internal Medicine residency program. Arnold tagged along, and he and Dara moved to Albuquerque over Memorial Day weekend. Arnold has also recently passed his clinical exam and is now eagerly working on transferring it to New Mexico in order to become a licensed clinical social worker in the Land of Enchantment!
Rituparna Roy, MSSW ‘15, has been working at the University of Oregon as the assistant director of sexual violence prevention and education. Over this past year she had the honor of being the keynote speaker for Take Back The Night, International Student Career Awards Night, and the Department of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Commencement Ceremony. She also co-led trainings and presentations on trauma-informed approaches to advocate for queer, trans/gender diverse students at the 2017 and 2018 Annual NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education Conference. Though she misses the Austin sun and breakfast tacos daily, she is happy to be in an environment that supports her values of justice and sustainability. She wants more UT Austin alumni (arguably the most awesome social workers) to move to the Pacific Northwest. Feel free to reach out to her as a connection. Hook ‘Em!
Heidi Tso, BSW ‘15, will be attending the University of Houston’s Graduate School of Social Work to obtain her Master of Social Work in their advanced standing clinical program. She starts this fall.
Aftyn Behn, MSSW ‘16, has been hired as one of six solo statewide political organizers in Tennessee for the Indivisible Project, a nationwide movement of thousands of volunteer-led local groups that engage in progressive advocacy and electoral work at the local, state and national level.
Kerrie Judice, MSSW ‘18, finished her master’s this past summer and has been working for Senator Kirk Watson as a policy analyst since late July.
Chloe Adeline Picot-Jacobs, MSSW ’18, is an infant/early childhood therapist at the Austin Child Guidance Center, where she completed her first field placement.