Community Connection

Recent Stories

Baylor Student Joyelle Gaines: Why I Pursued an MSW Joyelle is currently pursuing her Master of Social Work degree through the Garland School of Social Work, at our Houston campus. We sat down with Joyelle to ask her about her decision to pursue a career in social work, her experience in the program thus far, and her hopes and goals for the future. Read this inspiring story about a young woman who has big plans to serve others. Research The Impact of Social Workers on Mental Health Did you know that 43.8 million adults experience some form of mental illness in a given year? Within that 43.8 million, nearly 1 in 25 adults (roughly 10 million) are living with a severe mental illness. Social workers are in a unique position to offer hope and healing to those suffering from mental illness. Read on to learn about the need for experienced and competent mental health social workers and how a master’s in social work degree best prepares these professionals to meet the need of this growing population. MSW MSW student helps gives voice to women and girls through "SERVE"-ing “The SERVE Project resonated with my core values that include uplifting and empowering women in our society to become the best versions on themselves. I am passionate about being an advocate and giving a voice to women and girls who might not otherwise have one.” MSW student Sarah Burwell is a research assistant for the SERVE Project, a grant which seeks to Support, Encourage, Respect, Value, and Empower women and girls. The SERVE project is dedicated to learning how to best serve women and children who have undergone traumatic events. Research Associate dean joins mental health podcast as co-host Podcasting … a seemingly vast and overwhelming realm of possibilities. Any topic one might be interested in is probably available via a podcast, from politics to polar ice caps and everything in between … including mental health. Podcasting is a valuable tool in the mental health care arsenal. Podcasts provide educational opportunities for both those experiencing mental health issues and those wanting to learn more about how to help people cope with and thrive through those issues. To that end, our own Dr. Holly Oxhandler, associate dean of research at the Garland School of Social Work, is now co-hosting “CXMH: A Podcast on Faith and Mental Health”. According to its creator, Robert Vore, CXMH is at the intersection of faith and mental health, bringing Christian leaders and mental health professionals together for “honest conversations”. Giving GSSW alumnus named chair of the Board of Advocates “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.” (Col. 2:6) While everyone’s walk with the Lord is different, Dr. Louis Gomez, MSW ’08, has found his calling by serving vulnerable populations. This year, Gomez was named the chair of the Board of Advocates (BOA) at the Garland School of Social Work (GSSW) after being a loyal member for several years. Before joining the BOA, he was a part of the Houston Master of Social Work Committee, helping the GSSW open its second campus. MSW Elizabeth Mukasa: Living out her faith through social work Whether working with the refugee community in Kampala, Uganda, interviewing vulnerable youth in Western Africa, or beginning her master’s degree at the Garland School of Social Work in Waco, Texas, Elizabeth Mukasa stated that faith has been the driving force in her desire to know and help others. “Faith is the only reason,” Elizabeth explained. “[My mindset is] just following what Jesus did, whether I’m a social worker or not. I mean, he spoke against injustice, and I don’t think I can be a Christian and look at injustice happening. He fed the poor. I cannot see my neighbor being hungry and not look for ways to help them. So, my faith is part of it. It’s not a profession for me; it’s how I live out my faith.” BSW Haleigh Culverhouse: Doing the work she is called to do Coming to Baylor from Freeport, Texas, Haleigh Culverhouse grew up with parents who greatly value social justice and operate a nonprofit organization which supports women at risk for or recovering from human trafficking. Their support, as well as a focus on mental health and self-care within her family, helped open her eyes to a career in social work. When asked how she felt about receiving the Spirit of Social Work Award, Haleigh said she was “surprised” and “honored.” She also had a sizeable list of people she owed thanks to throughout her social work journey. … Haleigh interned at Waco Center for Youth this past spring, where she cared for adolescents with varying mental health diagnoses. She worked under the supervision of a therapist and met individually with girls at the center to talk them through their thoughts and feelings before they were to meet with other staff members. She also planned and lead group therapy sessions MSW MSW Profile: Victoria Jordan, the Spirit of Social Work Victoria came a long way, both educationally and geographically, to the Garland School of Social Work (GSSW), where she received her MSW in May. Victoria is from Atlanta, GA and studied theology as an undergraduate at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK. Victoria was named the 2018 MSW Spirit of Social Work award winner, and her experience at the GSSW was greatly shaped by her internship opportunities. During her first year, Victoria interned with Tri-Cities Ministries, a network of interdenominational churches united to care for local communities around Bellmead, Lacy Lakeview, and Elm Mott, TX. Victoria was charged with launching a case management program, including training volunteers and beginning to see clients, in order to better meet the long-term needs of those within the Tri-Cities communities. Featured Prayers for migrant children and prayers for ourselves Last Sunday we drove nearly 500 miles from Waco to Brownsville, Texas, to pray. When we got there, what we really wanted to do was sneak through the fence, over a wall and through a window of the repurposed, former Walmart used to house children forcibly separated from their migrant parents. We wanted to sit on the floor and hold babies, toddlers and preschoolers in our laps and wait with them until their mamas could come. We wanted to hear the names and listen to the stories of every child inside that facility. We wanted to shake the guards at the entrance by the shoulders and remind them that these are babies – children – someone else’s very best, most precious gift. We wanted to ask how on earth they could just stand there. Featured Meet the 2018 GSSW Alumna of the Year Dana Smith “What if you could change the system so the women you worked with [at the Christian Women’s Job Corps] were never in their situations or circumstances in the first place?” Dr. Rob Rogers said, years ago in a meeting with an MSW Capstone student. “What policies could have been created to change the systems affecting them?” This helped to change the direction of that student’s life. This conversation helped plant the macro social work seed in the heart of the Garland School of Social Work’s 2018 Alumna of the Year, Dana Smith, and that seed has only grown and flourished for nearly 15 years! BSW Meet the 2018 BSW Outstanding Student Jenna Hampton “You really have to find what you’re passionate about, and people who are passionate about the same things.” That’s exactly what Jenna did when, after a few meetings with Baylor’s career services, she found her calling to social work. Since discovering that calling, Jenna has realized her interest in the macro aspect of social work. Dr. Holly Oxhandler, Garland School of Social Work’s associate dean of research, opened up that door for her and was especially helpful in aiding Jenna through her journey. Within the macro aspect, Jenna’s focus has been at the intersection of social and economic issues.

From the Dean

Jon Singletary
Welcome to Community Connection online!
Jon E. Singletary | Dean, Garland School of Social Work

I am excited to welcome you to the new Community Connection online magazine. Just like our printed magazine, this new online version highlights everything that makes this vibrant, creative community so special: our students, our alumni, our faculty and staff, our research, our partners and the communities we serve.

Here you will find stories showcasing the work, events, activities and accomplishments of the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work. This version allows us to quickly push out stories in a beautiful new format with some pretty cool new tools! The new site allows readers to socially share the stories directly from the stories themselves … which we encourage you to do! If you find them valuable, inspiring or informative, please share away! This digital format will complement our print version which will still be mailed once a year. So, if you don't already receive it, please make sure to update your contact information so you can be on the list!

I am grateful for all the time, energy and resources you pour into our school. The work we do here and in partnership with people and organizations from all over the world is about making a real difference, a true impact. This is the heart of our mission, and I pray you will continue to partner with us on this journey. You enrich our lives in so many ways, and we love to share our stories with you!

We look forward to staying connected with you through this new outlet, and as always, we encourage to stop by and say hello if you are ever in town.