Las Vegas, N.M. — An outstanding New Mexico Highlands University social work student was named Student Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers New Mexico Chapter.
Jesse Davila, a member of the San Ildefonso Pueblo, has earned a 3.95 GPA and will graduate from Highlands with his BSW in May. He was named to the university’s dean’s list and academic honor roll.
The Albuquerque resident attends the Highlands University Albuquerque Center. He was selected from social work students at New Mexico State University, Eastern New Mexico University, Western New Mexico University and Highlands.
“Jesse Davila was chosen for this honor because he is an outstanding representative of the ethics and values in social work,” said Patrick Tyrrell, NASW-NM executive director. “He’s shown great leadership both in the classroom as well as on legislative issues. Jesse is an exceptional individual who I think will have a great career in social work.”
Davila serves as a student member of NASW-NM’s Legislative Action Committee.
“Jesse is a very bright and articulate model student that every program would like to have,” said Alfredo Garcia, dean of the Highlands School of Social Work. “He’s outstanding academically and professionally, and is extremely committed to the social work profession. We’re very proud of Jesse and look forward to him continuing his studies in our MSW program.”
Davila, 34, has experience in both the private and public sector. This academic year, his social work practicum is at Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless. A multimedia artist, Davila assists with the client art studio and is a client advocate, among other responsibilities.
He was an intern at the Southwest Tribal Native American Research Centers for Health, where he conducted biomedical and behavioral research. His volunteer work at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque sparked his interest in working with veterans.
“My professional goal and dream is to work with veterans who need help with reintegrating into their communities,” Davila said. “I’m continuing my education at the MSW level at Highlands to obtain a clinical designation to provide diagnosis and treatment in behavioral and mental health areas like substance abuse, post traumatic stress disorder, and other disabilities.”
Davila also serves on a number of professional committees, such as the New Mexico Department of Health’s Native American Community Advisory Group, which is part of the Community Planning and Action Group.
“On this committee, one important focus is HIV/AIDS prevention, awareness and treatment for Native Americans throughout the state. We want to make sure people know about the resources that are available,” Davila said.
Davila said it’s been critically important to his social work education to have convenient access to the Highlands University Albuquerque Center.
“My social work professors and adviser at Highlands are dedicated to being partners in building student success. One of the great strengths in the School of Social Work is how flexible and accommodating it is for students. I’m so thankful,” Davila said.