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Social Work Students Meet With Record Number of Employers at Field Fair

Photo: Margaret McKinney/Highlands University Toni Gonzales, right, a social worker with the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute, talks with BSW junior Francesca Romero March 2 at the Highlands Facundo Valdez School of Social Work 2016 Field Fair. Romero is from Springer, New Mexico, and Gonzales is a Highlands social work alumna.

Photo: Margaret McKinney/Highlands University
Toni Gonzales, right, a social worker with the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute, talks with BSW junior Francesca Romero March 2 at the Highlands Facundo Valdez School of Social Work 2016 Field Fair. Romero is from Springer, New Mexico, and Gonzales is a Highlands social work alumna.

Las Vegas, N.M. – Social work students from Highlands University pursued field practicum and employment opportunities with a record number of agencies March 2.

Nearly 100 social work students from the university’s main campus in Las Vegas and its Santa Fe Center talked with 57 representatives from 35 agencies at the 2016 Field Fair at Highlands.

“Field education is central to preparing our students for successful careers in social work,” said Ben Bencomo, director of field education in the Highlands Facundo Valdez School of Social Work. “Practicum opportunities allow our students to work alongside social work professionals to develop their own professional style of social work practice.”

Bencomo said there is 100 percent practicum placement for social work students.

“We highly value our partnerships with agencies throughout New Mexico and Colorado to place our students in practicums. Many of these practicums lead to full-time employment with the agency upon graduation,” Bencomo said.

Jessica Bastian, a 22-year-old MSW student from Denver, Colorado, participated in the field fair.

“This has been a wonderful networking opportunity for me to meet social work professionals who have the same goal of helping our children have a better future,” Bastian said. “I want to be a school social worker, and I had the chance to meet a variety of school employers. The field fair also inspired me to learn more about working with different populations.”

Bencomo said one of the goals of the field fair is to give students a good sense of the wide variety of opportunities in the social work profession.

“One of the beautiful things about social work is that we can work with clients in so many settings ranging from client advocacy and community organizing to child welfare, mental health and addiction, and working with the elderly, to name a few,” Bencomo said.

Stacie Waters was a participating employer in the field fair. She is the interim assistant director for the Taos Pueblo’s Division of Health and Community Services. Waters earned her MSW at Highlands.

“I remember my first field fair when I was a social work student at Highlands, and the excitement of moving into the social work field as a professional,” Waters said. “I tell the Highlands social work students that when they incorporate their strong academic preparation with real-life experience as interns, they are preparing themselves to make extraordinary impact in the lives they touch.”