We asked several outstanding Hispanic social workers to tell us why they chose social work as their profession and what they see as challenges to serving the Hispanic community today.
Lulis del Castillo-Gonzalez, MSW
PhD Candidate, University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
Ms. del Castillo-Gonzalez
Q. What is your area of expertise?
I am a social worker LMSW presently working on my PhD in social work. I have always worked on the administrative side of non-profit social service agencies and have seen how agencies generally react to policies around them. It is for this reason that I decided to pursue my PhD at this time in my life. It is my hope that I will be able to influence policy and decision-makers to make legislation and funding decisions that are proactive and truly beneficial.
My passion is working with and for immigrants. I volunteer with a local school district teaching ESL to mothers of foreign students. My research interest is with this group and their children. I see how often mean-spirited and unjust legislation has taken its toll on immigrants. As an immigrant myself, I can sympathize with them, and will work incessantly to further their interests.
Q. Why did you choose social work as your profession?
I never wanted to become a social worker. That is – I never wanted to become what I thought was a social worker, the person who worked at the Department of Social Services with abused children! With a bachelors degree in psychology I had become an advocate for families, working in non-profit agencies that worked with this population in one way or another. When I looked for graduate programs to further my education, I found that social workers could do direct practice or community practice. I found my true love once I began my program of studies – policy and history. Learning about reformers such as Jane Addams made me proud to join their ranks and be called a social worker myself.
Q. What are the biggest challenges to serving our growing Hispanic population?
A lack of a fair, and morally just immigration policy has put a category of people in the ranks of second class citizenship. The present immigration policies keep immigrants in a position where they are vulnerable and can be exploited. It is our obligation as social workers, to fight for the rights of these oppressed and vulnerable populations.
Latinos fare much worse than other groups in education. While most people realize that education is the vehicle for success, this vehicle is often lacking wheels and gasoline when it comes to Latinos! Closing the door for many new immigrant children will yield angry and hostile young adults, with little ability to rise from poverty and pursue the American dream.
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