Students and faculty from the Eastern New Mexico University Social Work Program attended the 38th Annual New Mexico Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-NM) Conference from March 27-29 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The ENMU Social Work Club's mission is to serve, advocate, improve the lives of others, adhere to integrity and be culturally competent. Social work students attended workshops and seminars during the conference, titled "Stress, Strengths and the Social Environment," to learn this foundation of social work.
Joining 703 social work professionals, ENMU students attended many seminars and watched two keynote speakers: Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, Ph.D., LCSW, who is best known for developing a model of historical trauma for the Lakota people, and "Warrior Social Work: A Combat Veteran's Perspective on Social Work" presented by BJ Ganem, CEO of Service Dogs for Heroes.
The ENMU students attended student sessions along with 120 student peers from other New Mexico universities to learn about "Cultural Perspectives on Advocacy and Activism," "Environmental Stresses," "Transgender 101" and "Connecting to the Community and Loan Forgiveness." Current ENMU students also enjoyed meeting ENMU Social Work Program alumni who were also in attendance.
"The NASW conference is a great place to network," said NiCole Ryan, a senior at ENMU and NASW student representative.
She attended a session titled "Together We Rise: Advocacy, Action and Activism." During this session, she joined students from other universities throughout the state and came together on ways to advocate. "By the end of the session, we had not only made astounding connections, but we also learned the importance of advocacy," she explained.
To fundraise for this event, the Social Work Club held a t-shirt fundraiser and received money from the ENMU Student Government. Many students take part in ENMU's Social Work Program via distant education, which makes it difficult to host fundraising events as many students are out of the area and out of the state. "The Social Work Club would not have achieved what we have without the help of its club members," said Mariah Walters, the Social Work Club president. "Great leadership, motivation and teamwork are what it took to attend the conference."
The ENMU Social Work Club was able to assist with travel and expenses for eleven students to attend the conference. They also received six scholarships from the NASW-NM Chapter to cover the conference expenses.