Associate Professor of Social Work and Equitable Community PracticeJoined USJ: 2013
A New Direction in Social Work Education
When USJ launched its master’s in social work (MSW) program in 2014, Anthony De Jesús arrived to oversee the development of an innovative field education program that integrated academic and clinical learning in pioneering ways. His combination of frontline experience in social work, teaching, research, and clinical settings prepared him well to guide the new initiative. Since that time, the MSW program has evolved to include numerous field education sites throughout the greater Hartford community. “It is exciting to be part of a new field education model that impacts social work at the national level,” De Jesús said, stressing that field education is the “signature pedagogy of social work education.”
“Field work has relied historically on the goodwill of agencies to provide supervision for students. USJ’s model is mutually beneficial to an unprecedented degree. We provide on-site supervision and field-based instruction through a university-employed clinical preceptor. That individual, a seasoned clinician, supports students’ learning, serves as a key link to the classroom-based curriculum, and brings a level of expertise that can benefit the agency partner.” De Jesús guides students in the development of collaborative research projects focused on pressing issues, and continues to identify agencies that can provide rich learning opportunities.
Seeking Enduring Impact
Growing up, De Jesús knew of social work through a youth group in his Bronx parish, but did not grasp the breadth of the profession’s impact – and the career pathways it offered – until his high school and college years. “I was very passionate about making an impact in the world,” he recalls “and social work provided me with an opportunity to make this difference.” While a social worker in the Boston public schools, however, he became disillusioned by the limitations of the field to help students in a humanistic, enduring way. Those concerns motivated a deep curiosity and led him to pursue advanced academic degrees. A greater focus on Puerto Rican and Latino studies was one result, and he moved to New York, where he worked as a researcher at Hunter College’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies, subsequently becoming interim director before starting his career as a faculty member at Hunter’s Silberman School of Social Work.
Research and Practice
Throughout his career, research has accompanied De Jesús’ progress. The author of numerous journal articles, book chapters, and policy reports on cultural, educational, or diversity issues, most recently he has examined the development of health and social work careers for Latinos and the effectiveness of cultural competence training in child welfare. His varied experience is particularly well suited for USJ, where collaboration with the region’s Latino community is prevalent in the curriculum. Now, De Jesús prepares to build on USJ’s successful B.S.W. program with a ground-breaking approach that will draw on his life’s work – and engage M.S.W. candidates in developing their own opportunities of a lifetime.
Ed.D., Ed.M., Harvard University
MSW, Boston University
BSW, Dominican College