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Meet Joanna Bustamante (2015-16 Behavioral Health Scholar), School Social Worker/Student Advocate and Family Resource Liaison for Garden City Public Schools

Hometown:  I was born and raised in Garden City, Kansas.

When did you complete your MSW and where are you currently working?

I completed my MSW in May of 2016 and licensed as a LMSW very soon after.  I came to work for Garden City Public Schools (USD 457) in August of 2016 as a School Social Worker/Student Advocate and Family Resource Liaison for the district.

How did you become interested in social work?

I became interested in social work at a very young age.  I grew up in a very compassionate, loving and giving family.  My mother has always worked in the social work field so growing up I got to see the difference a person can make in the lives of others.  I always admired that and wanted to do the same.  My father is not a social worker but has the heart of one, as he has always been willing to help anyone in need.  My only sibling is not in the social work field either but he is just like my father.  I have always said, the desire to help others runs in the family and the desire to pursue social work as a career just came natural to me.

What was your MSW/Scholars experience like?

My MSW/BH Scholars experience was great!  I feel through the classroom work and the practicum experience I gained so much knowledge, skill, and guidance.  All of which helped prepare me for my career with Garden City Public Schools. I completed my Practicum at Compass Behavioral Health, where I got to work in many different environments.  I completed intakes at the Compass Outpatient Support Center, I ran groups and spent time with patients at the Behavioral Health Unit at Saint Catherine’s Hospital, I ran groups at the Therapeutic Educational Center and I provided therapy services to inmates at the Finney County Jail. Out of all those experiences I really enjoyed providing therapy services to the inmates at the jail.  I was nervous at first because I was not sure I was ready to provide those services.  I quickly found that the jail became the place where I felt I could put the skills I had learned to practice.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The thing that I enjoy the most about my job is that I get to work with some of the most vulnerable students and families in our district.  I get to meet with them, share with them, help guide them and help them navigate the areas in life that are sometimes too tough to navigate alone.  My job is very rewarding.  I have found that even the smallest amount of help and kindness can bring the most joy to our students and families.

What are your career aspirations?

My career aspirations include continuing to work within USD 457 and within my community as a whole to make sure that every individual, student, and family has access to the resources they need.  Also, in the near future I would like to start working towards my Clinical License.

What advice would you give current Scholars?

Some advice I would share with the current Scholars would be: 1. Embrace all the experiences in the classroom and in your practicum because the field of social work is so diverse and there will be so many opportunities open to each of you.  You just have to be open to them as well. I would have never guessed that I would have enjoyed providing therapy services in the jail setting. However, in the end that is the experience that helped me grow the most and gave me the most confidence in my knowledge and skill. 2. Be confident and be proud of yourself!  You have dedicated a lot of time to learning and preparing yourself for your career choice!  Know that when all the classwork and practicum experiences are over you will be ready!  Go out into the world and make the difference you have always dreamed of making! 3.  Finally, Don’t forget to make time for you!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family.  My significant other and I have two beautiful girls that keep us very busy at home. We always have time for crafts, games, play dates, dancing, and just being silly. When I get alone time I also enjoy reading, watching movies, and writing.

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