Social Work program reshapes community influence

By Ryan Carreon
Pulse Staff Reporter

Professor Gonzalez with students
Professor Gonzalez with Palo Alto College Social Work students.

Palo Alto’s Social Work Program teaches the importance of building strong communities.

Adjunct Professor Barbara A. Renaud Gonzalez gives her students an overview of Social Work with an emphasis on the clinical approach, focusing on the treatment and prevention of issues, including mental illness, emotional disturbances and other behavioral disturbances, such as substance abuse.

Social Work Sophomore Victoria Castellanos said, “I know I may not be able to change the world, but I just want to make a difference in at least one person’s life, whether it’s a homeless person, a child in The Children’s Shelter or just someone going through some struggles.”

Gonzalez sees a need for student and professional social workers to be able to share with each other through technology. She encourages her students to use social media and think creatively to reach their fullest potential.

Castellanos said, “Social media and technology in general is a big part of social work. It is used as a way to reach out to those who are dealing with it in private because they don’t know where to turn.”

Besides the core curriculum, the program consists of Social Work and Sociology classes including:

  • Introduction to Social Work
  • Social Welfare as a Social Institution
  • Introductory Sociology
  • Social Problems
  • Marriage and the Family

Students can also choose from a related area of study, including Criminal Justice, Economics or Psychology for their elective course.

Palo Alto has transfer agreements with Texas State University and the Worden School of Social Service at Our Lady of the Lake University, where students can earn his or her bachelor’s and master’s in Social Work.

“I think in some ways the South Side [of San Antonio] has been neglected, but it has also stood up for itself,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said several opportunities exist for growth in the South Side community, such as improvements on mass transportation or agricultural and environmental programs.

Students pursuing a degree in Social Work don’t have to stay in San Antonio or Texas during his or her professional career. Organizations like The United Nations and The Red Cross provide opportunities to travel and help others internationally.

“In this field, you will come across people of different religions so this class [World Religion] will help you be more open-minded and give a better understanding,” said Castellanos.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wages for social workers, last estimated in May 2014, are as follows:

  • $41,380 for mental health and substance abuse social workers.
  • $42,120 for child, family and school social workers.
  • $51,930 for healthcare social workers.
  • $59,100 for all other social workers.

Gonzalez said, “You have to love what you do. As I told my students, ‘It’s not about the money. Pursue what you love. The money will follow.’”

For more information visit Palo Alto Social Work Program or contact Professor Gonzalez 


Additional Links:

Texas State School of Social Work 

Our Lady of the Lake: Worden School of Social Service 

1 Comment

  1. We would also welcome your students to consider the social work program at New Mexico Highlands University. It’s the first SOWK program in NM. Opportunitues to study in Albuquerque for an urban experience or on our main campus in Las Vegas NM (for a more rural experience). Very affordable! Excellent faculties, and a Hispanic Serving Institution. Contact Associate Dean Cristina Duran for more info. Congratulations for your commitment to serve. You have a great prof there at Palo Alto.

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