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Student Profiles: Ortiz on Community Organization

Charlie Ortiz, pursues two graduate degrees – Social Work with a concentration in Community Organization, and Law – through the dual degree program option

Bachelor’s Degree: University of Connecticut, Bachelor of General Studies with a focus on Law and Society

I chose to attend the University of Connecticut School of Social Work because of its greatness as being an affordable school of solid national reputation. I am currently working on separate graduate degrees in Law and Social Work. I am interested in becoming an attorney for many reasons. I want to combine my interests in studying the historical and philosophical roots of jurisprudence with my aspiration of learning community organization, skills that will enable me to serve as an effective advocate for people in our community.

My goal is to become a social worker well trained as a community organizer and an attorney. I believe that having degrees and training in both social work and law will be a great combination. This training will be beneficial in working with the underserved populations that I currently work with. Although I have aspired to be an attorney since youth, circumstances in my life did not make it possible to pursue this endeavor until seven years ago, when I decided to put all of my efforts and resources to attend the School of Social Work and Law School. UConn has enabled me to achieve my goals.

I first started taking courses through the STEP program at the UConn School of Social Work. This was a good way to explore the field of social work. I was immediately impressed with the school and faculty and made a decision to complete my degree. The School of Social Work has helped me to build self-confidence and gain the professional skills critical to be an effective community organizer. I have grown both personally and professionally. The learning community incorporates an academically sound environment as well as practica that connect students with the surrounding communities. This has afforded me a great opportunity to learn to be an effective advocate for civil rights and the pursuit of justice.

For the first year practicum, my designated field placement was with a community organization known, as C.L.A.R.O. (Connecticut Latinos/as Achieving Rights and Opportunities) which is a Latinos/as LGTBIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, Intersex, Queer) group whose vision is “to achieve a state that promotes equality for Latinos/as LGTBTIQ and embraces justice and human rights.” The School of Social Work has been influential in developing a great pool of trained professionals that have become a great asset to our communities. Through this placement, I was given the chance to work with others in building a much needed community program. This placement afforded me a great experience. I was able to work on numerous projects such as: developing organizational by-laws, mission-vision statement; conflict of interest policy; petition for 501(c)(3) exemption, grant writing and program implementation and delivering testimony at the Connecticut State Legislature. My second practicum will be at the Hartford Community Court, where I will be able to put in to practice both legal and social work skills.

The UConn School of Social Work also affords students great opportunities to engage in activities within its many sub-organizations. I am a member of the PRIDE sub-organization and have been nominated to serve as co-chair for L.A.S.O. (Latin American Student Organization). I strongly encourage you to look into our program at the school. I have accomplished much here. You will receive much support and encouragement while learning one of the greatest professions for the service of humankind. The UConn School of Social Work is a great place to be and I could not think of being at any other school.