Leo Lopez has been in their shoes. The Sunnyside resident graduated from Heritage (BSW ’98), and he knows what it’s like to step into a professional environment as a student intern. . Like a number of other alumni around the Yakima Valley, the Tri-Cities, and Moses Lake, Lopez shows his commitment to nurturing up and coming social workers by arranging student field practicum placements in his workplace. Director of Casey Family Programs, Yakima Field Office since 2007, Lopez regularly visits campus to share his experiences and encourage students to apply for internship positions.
Field placements are designed to take the theory and information that students have learned in the classroom and put them into practice. Seniors complete 450 hours under the supervision of a social worker on site. Lopez appreciates the fact that HU students come from diverse backgrounds and believes that giving back to future social workers helps strengthen our communities. Lopez likes to ensure that students “have the opportunity to learn best practices, apply their learning, and transform into professionals.”
This year, two students are placed in Yakima with Casey Family Programs. Maria Mendoza used the word “amazing” to describe her experience saying, “I really did not expect my practicum to be as interesting as it has been, and now I feel like I know what area I really want to work in which is child welfare with foster children.” Lenita Sideris-Knapp said she “was in awe of how important it was to the Casey staff to get to know us, to welcome us, and to make us feel like we are a part of their team.”
BSW Program alumni are making a difference in their communities, and we are thankful that, like Lopez, so many are willing to give back to the next generation of professionals.
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