Social work senior plans career helping Latino community

The transformative outreach that is a key element of the School of Social Work’s mission–along with exemplary education and applied research–is often the part of the program that ignites students’ passion for the social work profession.

Ray Rios discovered his passion as a B.S.W. student by recognizing a need in his own community. “The inspiration that led me to social work is the struggle of my people,” said Rios. “I identify as a Latino male and grew up in a community that faces many different types of struggles.”

The 2010 U.S. Census reports the Hispanic population has surpassed 50 million and accounted for more than half of the 27.3 million population increase in the last decade. It is 16.3 percent of the US population, and 21 percent of the state population in Colorado (over 1 million).

Rios observed where his help is needed for the Latino community through first-hand experience. “I have seen how some social workers and agencies are culturally incompetent, thus not being able to communicate well, and not connecting people with the resources they need,” Rios said.

Through his time in Colorado State University’s social work program, Rios discovered that he was a “natural helper” and now facilitates a social work course in the program–teaching him to how to be better organized and how to run a group efficiently.

Rios has also gained experience with practice in an agency setting, under the guidance of his B.S.W. field education instructor. “I am currently interning at the Boys and Girls Club in Loveland,” Rios said. “Children are the future of our nation, and I think it’s important to have a positive impact so they grow up to become outstanding, educated citizens.”

Rios will receive his B.S.W. this May and hopes to focus his career on the Latino community so he can combine his personal experience in the community with the knowledge and skills he acquired at Colorado State University’s School of Social Work.

“I recently took a class on social policy, which inspired me to pay close attention to politics. So, I can see myself as a politician after graduation,” said Rios. With his B.S.W. degree in hand, he’ll be prepared to enter social work practice as a generalist professional and continue to follow his passion in any direction he chooses.

The School of Social Work is part of Colorado State University’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

By Haleigh Cannalte