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March 22, 2013

Stipends empower social work students to begin careers in health care

Three students from the School of Behavioral Health merited $2,000 stipends for the 2012–2013 school year from the Association of Social Work Leaders in Healthcare Southern California. They are second-year master of social work students Carolina Quiroz, Laura Loofbourrow, and Zulema Hernandez.

The scholarships encourage career development in students who demonstrate an interest in social work in health care settings. Applicants must already be placed in an internship with a member hospital, hospice, or home health agency affiliated with the Association of Social Work Leaders in Healthcare.

Ms. Zulema, for example, is serving out her internship this year at Loma Linda University Cancer Center—an ideal placement because she dreams of a career in medical social work, particularly in the field of oncology. She helps patients understand and successfully get through their diagnosis and treatment, working with both individuals and their families.

“I am there to support the patient in every step of their journey with cancer, and to help them cope with their emotions as well as helping reduce stress that may be associated with their cancer,” Ms. Zulema says.

Ms. Loofbourrow is interning at Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale. “I work closely with the RN case managers,” she says, “and provide medical care regarding the emotional, psychological, and social factors that impact the patients and their families during their hospital stay.”

She expresses great gratitude for the funds she has received, which are helping with her tuition.

“This stipend has not only given me an opportunity to follow my dreams, but it has given me confidence that I can be successful in this chosen path that is the right one for me,” says Ms. Loofbourrow, who has known since high school that she wants to work in a hospital.

Ms. Zulema had a similar reaction to being chosen.

“When I received the stipend, I was so excited and thrilled—simply overjoyed,” she says.

She is using part of the money to obtain further education in a type of psychological counseling called acceptance and commitment therapy. Ms. Zulema also bought professional books for further guidance.

But the most exciting use of the money will be to help pay for a dreamed-of trip to Cameroon.

“I will be doing missionary work at a hospital that treats HIV patients, conducting outreach therapeutic games, and participating in educational health fairs,” she says. 

Ms. Zulema, Ms. Loofbourrow, and Ms. Quiroz are three of eight master’s degree students from graduate social work programs in Southern California to earn the stipends for the current year.

The three LLU recipients have performed well academically and face great careers, notes Victoria Jackson, MSW, assistant professor of social work and social ecology.

“They each have the capacity to make a name for themselves as stellar social workers,” she notes.

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