Laredo's record growth is regularly measured by new buildings, businesses, and residents, but that growth also prompts an increased need for social services, agencies to provide those services and social work professionals to deliver them.
Individuals seeking a local education in social work have long had to leave the city to secure a Bachelors degree in Social Work (BSW).
This Fall, Texas A&M International University will make it possible to secure a BSW right here at home.
The new degree program's availability was announced at a press conference Monday at the University's Great Room in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library.
University president Charles Jennett said the new degree answers a critical community and area need.
"This area of South Texas is the fastest growing in the state and the need for qualified professionals in the social work profession is formidable. This program clearly addresses a pervasive need and the University's development of an appropriate degree program is the natural response to this need," Dr. Jennett said.
Dr. Cecilia Garza, chair of the University's department of Psychology and Sociology, said the new degree program will prepare generalist social work practitioners.
"Our goal is to prepare our graduates as generalists with a liberal arts perspective that will help them to attain degrees and preparation to qualify for State licensure and to work effectively in diverse settings and populations," she explained.
The BSW is a 125-hour program including 48 hours in core curriculum, 59 hours in required social work courses and 18 hours in electives.
In addition to meeting University's admissions policies, students pursuing the BSW will also need to have and maintain a 2.5 GPA; submit an application including a personal statement describing the student's interest in social work; three letters of recommendation and participate in a review conference with social work faculty.
Garza said employment opportunities for BSW graduates are extensive and include both public and private sectors.
In Texas, those identified to the public as a social worker must be licensed under the laws and regulations of the State. Private practice is limited to those licensed social workers who have also met requirements and been recognized as Advanced Practitioners or Advanced Clinical Practitioners.
"Clearly, there are numerous employment scenarios, including positions in public welfare, criminal justice and corrections and gerontology to name a few. Also possible are clinical service, research and education, occupational and administrative posts and health care," Garza said.
She said that the community's need for degreed social workers has grown steadily with increased migration, the growth of the health care industry here and additional agencies expanding services to the growing population.
Garza announced that the degree program director and lead faculty member for the program will be Dr. Marian Aguilar, currently a member of the University of Texas at Austin faculty.
For additional information on the new Bachelors of Social Work (BSW) degree at A&M International, please contact Garza at 326.2475, visit offices located in Killam Library, room 426, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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