Department of Social Work
April 19, 2014

Department Events

Henry the Butterfly

Social workers are agents of change, and the arrival of spring reminds us that nature provides models of human transformation. Mary Thorne, also known as “the caterpillar caregiver,” recently explained to a class of social work students that caterpillars (like humans) are most vulnerable when they are entering a change process. Ms. Thorne has seen numerous people—of all ages and in many life conditions—undergo personal transformation as they witnessed a caterpillar change into a chrysalis and emerge as a butterfly before their eyes.

Intrigued by Ms. Thorne’s passion for providing a safe space for caterpillars’ metamorphosis, MSSW student Erica Sanchez decided to accept one of the caterpillars offered during the presentation. Erica wrote:

“I brought a caterpillar home to show my teenagers, especially my son who loves all things science. For days, the caterpillar would do nothing but eat! Nonetheless, everyday, the kids and I would sit in awe, mesmerized at this little caterpillar growing bigger and bigger. I found myself sitting in front of the butterfly castle, even after my long days at work and school. Watching the caterpillar day after day somehow made me forget about my daily frustrations from school. So relaxing was the sight that I even looked forward to coming home after my long evenings just to see the caterpillar.

Fifteen days passed, and the caterpillar climbed to the top of the castle. However, my husband pulled it off thinking he would fall. The next day, the caterpillar climbed up the castle once again and started to attach himself to the top of the butterfly castle. It was late that night so we were unable to see him complete the process. By morning he was a complete "J" and hardly moving. That was cool to see. About two weeks later, the chrysalis darkened, and the butterfly emerged, eventually to be given the name “Henry” due to his gender. Once again, Henry’s timing was off. It was a Saturday afternoon and I was off running errands when Henry decided to break out of the chrysalis. However, my son was able to capture Henry on video.

We finally attempted to release Henry early Sunday morning as the temperature was warm. But Henry was reluctant to fly out of his castle, but once he did, he was gone. This whole process was amazing to witness and I never thought I’d say this, but I grew attached to my little Henry. I have planted several Milkweed plants in hopes that butterflies will make a stop on their migration path and lay their eggs on my plants so that once again we can watch another caterpillar undergo metamorphosis.

As a future social worker, I could clearly see the value of having something as small as a caterpillar be therapeutic. I can clearly see how interacting with nature can be used as therapy for many of our future clients.”


Faculty from the School of Social Work at the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León in Monterrey, Mx. visited with faculty from the Department of Social Work, College of Health Sciences and Human Services, and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, on January 23-24, 2014.

Visit was to sign an Inter University Agreement to cosponsor the professional journal, "Social Perspectives/Perspectivas Sociales", a binational, bilingual journal on contemporary social issues in social work, and the social and behavioral sciences.

UTPA and UANL explored other collaborative arrangements such as student and faculty exchanges, joint research and collaborative course offerings.

Group Photo

Seating: Dr. Noe Ramirez, Dr. Maria Elena Ramos Tovar, Dr. Janis Feldman, Dr. Maria de Lourdes Martinez Aviles

Standing: Dr. Manuel Ribiero Ferrier, Dr. Santos Hernández, Raúl Solis, Olga Lidia Martinez Chapa, Dra. Guillermina Garza, Dr. John González, Dr. Eduardo López.

Branch Meeting

NASW LRGV Branch meeting was held on October 2, 2012 at UTPA Edinburg Campus, HSHW Auditorium 1.404 from 6-8p.m. Our featured presentation was on Laughter Yoga, presented by Mrs. Mayra Avila, LMSW from Hope Family Resource Center in McAllen. This was a fun and interactive session which was enjoyed by all while learning techniques to help with various problems including depression, anxiety, self confidence, etc.

Thanks to NASW LRGV Branch and Hope Family Resource Center for bringing this meeting to our students!

The following pictures show the session in action!!

Hermila Anzaldua Lecture Series

On Nov. 17th, 2010, we had our 3rd Annual Lecture Series with the presence of a distinguished speaker, Dr. Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, Professor of New York University. His presentation on "Parent-Adolescent Communication about Sex in Latino Families" was beneficial for social work faculty, students and community present.

Powerpoint Presentation

Fall 09 BSW Graduates Recognition Luncheon:

38 BSW graduates, from the Fall 09 graduating class were recognized last Wednesday, December 9th, 2009. During the celebration, each graduate expressed their practicum experience and their future plans. The traditional luncheon was sponsored by the SWSA. Congratulations to every member of the Fall 09 Graduating Class!

Group Photo

Student-Centered Research Colloquium

Under the leadership of Dr. Héctor Luis Díaz and the Department of Social Work a Binational Student-Centered Research Colloquium on Social Policy was conducted at The University of Texas – Pan American on November 19-20, 2009. A total of 15 research presentations took place over a two day period by a group of faculty members and students from the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon and UTPA. The presenters from the UTPA College of Business, and College of Health Sciences and Human Services did a great job presenting on their completed or ongoing research.

The event was a big success. It represents another great example of interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration. Faculty members and students from both institutions were extremely satisfied with the research project presentations and with the feedback they received.

We look forward to other student-centered research events like this in years to come!

Hermila Anzaldua Lecture Series

On Thursday, November 12, 2009 we conducted our 2nd Annual Hermila Anzaldua Lecture Series. Our guest speaker was Bishop Minerva Carcaño, a native of Edinburg and a 1975 UTPA graduate who later in 1979 received a Mastersof Theology from Perkins School of Theology of Southern Methodist University. In 2004, Bishop Carcaño became the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the episcopacy of The United Methodist Church. She currently serves as Bishop of the Phoenix Episcopal Area, Desert Southwest Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, and is the official spokeperson for the Council of Bishops on the issue of immigration. Her topic for the evening was: "Spirituality and Social Justice".

Hermila Anzaldua Lectures

Field Education Placemet Fair

On Wednesday, October 14, 2009 the office of Field Education conducted their Spring 2010 Field Education Placement Fair. More than 20 agencies were present to talk to students offering information on the availability of taking interns for social work. Thank you to all participating agencies!

Signing Ceremony

On Friday September 18, 2009 the presidents of The University of Texas-Pan American, The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College and the Laredo Community College, signed a historical collaboration agreement to offer UTPA's bachelors and masters in social work in Laredo and Brownsville mostly through distance education.

Dr. Charles Sorber, UTPA Interim President, Juliette Garcia, UTB/TSC President and Juan Maldonado, LCC President
Dr. Charles Sorber, UTPA Interim President, Juliette Garcia, UTB/TSC President and Juan Maldonado, LCC President.
Dr. Charles Sorber, UTPA Interim President, and Juan Maldonado, LCC President
Presidents Sorber and Maldonado signing a collaboration agreement. Dr. Charles Sorber, UTPA Interim President, and Juliette Garcia, UTB/TSC President
Presidents Sorber and Garcia signing a collaboration agreement.

Recruitment at UTB/TSC:

On Thursday, September 17, 2009 Dr. Bruce Reed, Dean of The College of Health Science and Human Services and Denise Cantu, Director of Graduate Recruitment conducted a graduate student recruitment fair on the campus of The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College. The Department of Social Work was represented by Mr. Raul Solis, Dr. Noe Ramirez, Dr. John Gonzalez and Mr. Walter Lukaszek. More than 200 UTB students inquired about careers in social work and even a greater number inquired about careers in the health professions at UTPA. This event has been considered a great success!


Recruitment at UTB/TSC

Departmental Accreditation:

The Department of Social Work at The University of Texas Pan Americanis proud to announce that the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) has granted our programs full accreditation until 2015.

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