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Highlands Offers New Graduate Social Work Program in Santa Fe

Las Vegas, N.M. – Highlands University’s new graduate social work program in Santa Fe will prepare its graduates to design and manage programs in social services, mental health and health.

Applications are being accepted for the first graduate social work program in Santa Fe: a community leadership concentration designed to better serve the community.

“In sampling our Santa Fe undergraduate social work students as well as Santa Fe social workers, we learned that they are hungry for an opportunity to advance their education so they can contribute as community program developers, political and community organizers, and policy creators and analysts,” said Andrew Israel, interim dean of the Facundo Valdez School of Social Work at Highlands.

Israel said there are acute social needs in the Santa Fe area related to poverty and substance abuse that make the demand very high for this kind of work.

He said the concentration in community leadership gives social workers a chance to be a voice for positive change.

“The community leadership concentration aims to prepare its graduates to become community advocates, create and manage health and human service programs, write grants and much more,” Israel said. “This community leadership concentration reflects an age-old calling social workers have for social justice issues, which includes evaluating social service and mental health needs at a community level and designing responsive programs.”

The graduate social work program will be offered at the Highlands Santa Fe Center in the Santa Fe Higher Education Center at 1950 Siringo Road.

“Our undergraduate social work students in Santa Fe want to spearhead social advocacy and have expressed very strong interest in this graduate program, advocating for it themselves,” said Thomasinia Ortiz-Gallegos, Highlands Santa Fe Center director. “Applications and inquiries are already coming in.”

There are 20 slots in the program for its first year, which begins fall semester 2016. The application deadline is July 29, with applications available online at www.nmhu.edu/socialwork/ Early registration for fall 2016 begins April 4.

Israel said the needs assessment survey designed by Highlands Santa Fe social work professor Rob Deacon identified a strong desire for a graduate program that would help meet community needs. The average age of people participating in the survey was 36.

“This means we have experienced community professionals who want to increase their employment potential by getting a master’s degree,” Israel said. “We want to meet the educational needs of these mature students who want to advance their careers and ability to earn more.”

Israel said one goal of the new program is to made it as convenient as possible for these working students to complete their graduate social work studies without leaving Santa Fe. Classes will be offered in the late afternoon and evenings, with traditional classroom instruction as well as online courses.

He said another advantage of the new graduate social work program is that Santa Fe area students with bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice, psychology, sociology and other disciplines can be admitted.

Ortiz-Gallegos said the Highlands Santa Fe Center staff is dedicated to its students.

“We are extremely committed to guiding our student in their academic journey so they fulfill their educational aspirations. The majority of our students work full time and are highly focused learners juggling multiple responsibilities. We are here to help however we can,” Ortiz-Gallegos said.

Those with questions about applying to the social work graduate program may contact Ortiz-Gallegos at 505-424-9185 or togallegos@nmhu.edu The Highlands Santa Fe Center is also open Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.