School Social Worker Earns Support Toward MSW

Liz Adams, MSW student

© Western New Mexico University

Liz Adams has been a social worker for 24 years. She lives in Cimarron and works in a school in Eagle Nest. “I’ve worked for child protective services. I worked in a hospital as a medical social worker. I worked with adults with intellectual disabilities, and I worked for hospice. But this is my niche. I love working with kids. I enjoy working with our troubled youth. I also do groups with children who aren’t struggling, doing prevention work as well,” she said. “Cimarron Municipal Schools has four campuses in all. I’m the only on-staff school social worker.”

Yet, because she holds merely a Bachelor’s of Social Work, Adams is required to be supervised by a LCSW who is also a school social worker. “It’s always been my goal to earn a master’s degree; it’s just never been the right time of life. I wanted to get her master’s from a New Mexico institution, because that’s where I live and practice and will continue to practice,” she said. “When I heard about the WNMU Expanding Opportunities Program, it was perfect.”

The program provides tuition assistance, field practicum stipends, and licensing fee reimbursement for in-state master’s-level social work and counseling students at WNMU. In short, the program supports those on path to become — or in Adams’ case, remain — school-based mental health providers. “They gave me a stipend for taking some school social work courses. It cut my loans almost in half,” Adams said. “The Expanding Opportunities Program isn’t just about the money. They’re trying to help social workers and other mental health providers come together and address the needs of our students.”

A full-time student since the fall of 2019, Adams has maintained straight As and is a member of the National Honor Society. Her coursework has helped her understand and be able to utilize the diagnostic statistical manual and has elevated her understanding of local and state policies regarding mental health. “Those are the things I didn’t have experience in yet and really needed to learn,” Adams said.

In April, she was able to attend the New Mexico Public Education Department’s Expanding Opportunities spring 2022 colloquium, where she most appreciated the opportunity to share and network with her peers statewide. “I’m located in a very rural area, and so were many of the other attendees. We talked about needs in the school systems, mental health issues providers are seeing, and how each school of district approaches crises,” she said.

When Adams graduates in December, she’ll continue to be a school social worker. “This is my calling. With a master’s degree, I’ll have better access to effective interventions for our students and be able to better address their needs.”

Submit Feedback