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Awards and Recognitions

Spring 2023 & Fall Outstanding Field Award Recipients

Fall 2023

Outstanding MSW Field Student Fall 2023: Maddie Garza

Maddie Garza has really grown during her time at NASW-TX. Her previous placement at CIS was purely focused on direct practice, and it was a large jump to the macro space. But she dove right into the work, and has   truly excelled in all of these areas. Maddie attends a variety of coalition meetings, and was our initial lead point on an interstate workgroup focused on immigration. She is the primary director of an initiative exploring a change to the statute in Texas that bars individuals with certain criminal histories from obtaining a social work license in the state. She is reaching out to other professions, including psychologists, doctors and nurses, and working on bringing everyone to the table to try and build a collaborative effort to change the law. She is also the main contact at NASW-TX with a member-led workgroup aimed at introducing rules around whistleblowers at the licensing board. She attended our state conference and helped work with a variety of volunteers and other staff in registration, session support and administrative tasks. She also collaborated with another intern on drafting a set of over 10 forms for intake, consent, referrals, and more for clinical social workers in group or private practice. Maddie has been working hybrid, and is excellent at balancing working autonomously on her own, collaborating with other interns online or at the office, and meeting deadlines and ensuring her hours and work are done checked in and transparently.


Outstanding BSW Field Student Fall 2023: Jada Burrell

Jada has been an exceptional field student. Ours is a brand-new program on the TXST campus, and she has shown a great deal of enthusiasm and flexibility in her practicum while supporting our students. Jada had only minimal experience with our population (people with intellectual and developmental disabilities), but has been open to instruction and has been eager to ask questions and learn as much as she can about best practices. She has taken initiative about learning how policies and social structures impact our students. She has been consistent in her documentation as well, and has been diligent about attending and being an active participant in all supervisory and staff meetings. We have begun talking about her plans after graduation, and I have found her to be wise and thoughtful in her approach to her future career. I strongly believe that Jada will be an outstanding social worker.


Outstanding Field Instructor Fall 2023: Andrea Menchaca, UT Charter School System

Andrea has been a phenomenal supervisor, mentor, teacher, and support system for the duration of my final field internship placement. She has been consistently available for me to reach out to her regarding any questions, concerns, or supports I may need. I don't see her in person everyday, but her willingness to be available for my support has truly and positively impacted my ability to grow, learn, and succeed. There have been many moments when I left a session with a client(s) where I was feeling a lot of emotions and needed to debrief and Andrea would be on the phone with me within minutes. She has provided invaluable feedback and has allowed me a safe space to reflect and grow. Her feedback gives me the confidence to go into a session with clients and feel like I am making a difference. Our weekly supervision, even the occasional group supervision, has been one of my favorite tasks the past four months. She has created such a warm, welcoming, and safe space for me to ask questions, receive feedback, and engage in some difficult self-reflection, all to become a better social worker and a better person. Andrea's commitment to social work values and ethics is something that all social workers should strive for. While she doesn't work directly with clients, her purpose in every decision she makes is with the well-being of her client population at the top. Andrea has provided me with many opportunities to advance my professional development. I had the opportunity to run over 10 SEL groups with elementary-aged students, engage with interdisciplinary teams at a residential treatment center for youth, and receive Neurosequential Model of Education certification. She has put so much focus into my professional development so that I can enter the workforce feeling competent, confident, and willing to always learn. In terms of Andrea demonstrating social work best practices, I want to touch on her views on self care. As many people know, this profession has high burnout rates, and an important way to combat burnout is through self care. Andrea has continuously modeled the importance of self care by creating boundaries, spending time with her family, and taking small weekend trips away to do things she enjoys. She emphasizes the importance of taking care of yourself, so that you can best support other people.


Spring 2023


Outstanding MSW Field Student Spring 2023:  Billy Streu

Academic Accomplishments- Billy Streu will be graduating with a 4.0 GPA. He has been accepted into membership of the honor societies of Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Alpha, and Alpha Chi.

Teaching Accomplishments- Billy was a speaker at the NASW-TX Annual Conference, teaching a seminar on Financial Social Work. He has also conducted webinars on Financial Social Work for the Organization of Student Social Workers at Texas State and on the Texas Legislature and multisector coalitions for Texas Homeless Network’s Homelessness and Housing Academy.

Research Accomplishments - Billy has authored several publications:

· The Case for Financial Social Work for the publication, The New Social Worker

· The Importance of Financial Social Work for the inaugural issue of Texas State’s School of Social Work peer-reviewed journal, Louder Than Words

· Let’s Talk About Zoning, a blog post for Texas Homeless Network’s website

Service Accomplishments- Billy serves as a Homeless and Housing Advocate for Texas Homeless Network. He is a member of the Research Committee for the Center for Financial Social Work. He is also a member of the Membership Committee for NASW-TX.


Outstanding BSW Field Student Spring 2023:  Kiomi Hernandez

Kiomi Hernandez has been eager and enthusiastic from day one of her internship with me.  Just a few weeks into her internship, I announced that I would be leaving to accept a position with another organization.  I had an option for her to transition to another facility with another social worker in the same setting and Kiomi met that idea with grace and enthusiasm, although I imagine that inside it may have felt a little scary, nerve wracking, and stressful.  Ultimately, however, the administrator at our facility was impressed with Kiomi's professionalism and obvious passion for our population that she chose to invest in Kiomi's future and has offered her the full-time position at the facility upon her graduation.  We had to make some fairly unconventional accommodations to make this work and to allow her to continue her internship at our agency which included keeping me on as a part time social worker working remote. This has allowed me to continue to supervise Kiomi until she obtains her licensure after graduation.  In the two weeks that I have not been physically in the building, Kiomi has risen to the occasion and has taken ownership of the various tasks and responsibilities that the Social Services department manages.  She is truly getting an authentic experience for the remainder of her practicum, and she has met the challenges head on with her continued grace and professionalism.  The fact that the administrator of the facility is willing to go for several months without a full-time social worker in the building speaks volumes of the impression that Kiomi has made on her and the rest of the interdisciplinary team.  Kiomi has worked diligently to complete assessments timely, engage with the residents and their family members, and is mastering the complexities of discharge planning.  She has been leading Care Plan meetings and communicating with various vendors and service providers to effectively coordinate services such as home health when our residents discharge to home. She does everything I have asked her to and has received feedback openly and then works to correct as needed.  She has shown excellent leadership skills by conducting the care plan meetings, in the way she interacts with the interdisciplinary team and the other staff members, and in her advocacy for our residents.  Kiomi has fully engaged in Supervision with me where we have discussed many of the various ethical issues that have arisen thus far, setting boundaries, and practicing self-care.  I couldn't be prouder of Kiomi Hernandez, and I feel that she deserves to be recognized as an Outstanding Student.


Outstanding Field Instructor Spring 2023:  Kristene Blackstone, Learning Bridge

Field Instructor, Kristene Blackstone has been consistent in her strengths-based approach and support of me throughout my internship. She knows that I am working full-time in addition to school and internship and has made herself available, especially when my work with the organization happens after 5pm. She provides nearly immediate feedback and has expressed her desire to provide me with timely support and information so that I can process it relative to the task it is associated with. I have served as a Victim Advocate with a large metropolitan law enforcement agency for over two decades. I have had thousands of hours of supervision. During my supervision with Kristene Blackstone, she inquires about both my educational and professional growth. She asks probative questions that go beyond superficial learning and challenge my way of thinking. Kristene Blackstone adheres to the NASW Code of Ethics professionally and in her work as my Field Instructor. She links aspects associated with my tasks to code and competencies. She strives to assist me in the promotion of developing my professional self and has utilized her contacts to further enhance my learning experience. (For example, sharing a connection with the Supreme Court's Commission on Children and Families so that I could visit with them and learn more about their work). Ultimately, she demonstrates Social Work Best Practices in her role, and I am able not just to learn from her guidance, but also to learn from the vibe and impression she provides.


Outstanding Task Supervisor Spring 2023:  Dr. Harlan Ballard, Office of Disability Services at Texas State University

My task supervisor is such a wonderful gift.  Dr. Ballard has empathy for me because he understands my behavior and understands that I am a disabled veteran with PTSD. He supports me in my ventures and leaves room for creativity. We are two of the same personalities, that's why we understand each other so well. I am extremely grateful that he is my task supervisor. Dr. Ballard shows patience and understanding when it comes to communicating with people that have mental disabilities. He is extremely encouraging. Yes, I have made mistakes and Dr. Ballard points them out in a constructive manner. While ensuring me that I am doing a great job. This is extremely important for me because I have had many bad supervisors.  Dr. Ballard is caring, understanding and shows true empathy.