Social workers attempt to solve the immigration reform puzzle
The Graduate College of Social Work brought students, staff and alumni of the award-winning college together to acknowledge the continuous efforts being put forth in the social work community.
The GCSW kicked-off National Social Workers Month on Friday in the Rockwell Pavilion by hosting the 13th annual Social Work Awards Breakfast. The ceremony’s theme “Immigration: Can We Solve the Puzzle?” was unveiled by keynote speaker Gordan Quan.
“As an immigration lawyer, I certainly saw all the problems people were having and the frustration in the system,” Quan said. “People were trying to do things right but didn’t have a real option.”
Quan is a partner at immigration law firm FosterQuan, LLP and said immigration reform will provide more opportunities for students to become successful during and after college.
“I think that it (immigration reform) will open doors for people to work,” Quan said. “By working, they can pay tuition and go to school.”
If political leaders don’t come to a solution about immigration reform, it may hinder the nation’s ability to move forward, Quan said.
Members of the GCSW’s faculty are in agreement that reform is an issue not just on a national level but also in Houston.
“UH is an institution that has, for the most part, been built by immigrants and their families,” said Dennis Kao, assistant professor at GCSW.
“The challenges facing immigrants and their families are the same issues impacting our faculty, staff and students. Given its prominence, UH can play an important role in fostering discussion and collaboration.”
By hosting the breakfast at UH, the GCSW aims to raise awareness and for social work to be recognized by the University’s community.
“Events such as the Social Work Awards Breakfast raises awareness of the important work that social workers do with vulnerable populations,” said Luis Torres, GCSW professor.
“Regardless of what type of work we are engaged in, we are linked by the common goal of promoting social justice.”
Students, faculty and alumni of the GCSW were honored for their dedication to the social work cause. GCSW graduate student Becca Keo was given the student of the year award, for her diligence and determination after being a part of the Master’s program for only six months.
“I am definitely very grateful and thankful for this recognition,” Keo said.
“I am especially thankful and humbled because I am being recognized for work that I absolutely love doing.”
Keo was recently accepted into the doctoral program for the GCSW and said she is excited to move forward in helping out the UH community.
“I’m open to all opportunities and experiences,” Keo said. “I’m also honored, happy and excited to continue serving LGBTQ communities in any way that I can.”
In addition to the Awards Breakfast, the college is hosting other events this semester to get more people involved and informed about what social work entails.
Licensed clinical social worker and department director of the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County, Jose Ramirez Jr., said the University is the perfect place to begin prepping future generations in making society a better place.
“The UH Community is an excellent place to make this happen by preparing for the next generation of citizens and contributors to the betterment of Houston,” Ramirez said. “The leaders of UH need to be ready in order to prepare the leaders of tomorrow.”