June 6, 2018

CWTAP Student Spotlight! Teresa Zarate-Castellanos

Teresa is a CWTAP student in the Spokane Hybrid program. She is finishing her first year in the 3-year part-time program. Teresa had originally been accepted into the full-time program but requested to switch to the Hybrid program to support her new career as a public child welfare social worker.

Teresa obtained her BSW from Eastern Washington University in 2015. As part of her program she did an internship at Early Head Start in Spokane, WA. That experience led her to become a Family Support Coordinator at the Martin Luther King Jr. Head Start center. She enjoyed her time there but recognized in herself a desire to do even more for children and families. While working at MLK, one of her coworkers began to describe what she referred to as a “dream job” in public child welfare. This really sparked an interest for Teresa. She took a “leap of faith” and applied for a Social Service Specialist (SSS) 1 job at Children’s Administration.

She was offered the job in March 2016 and accepted it knowing it was only a 1-year position. The timeframe fit nicely with her desire to get her MSW at EWU and in 2017 she was accepted into the Cheney Full-time MSW program. At nearly the same time her supervisor recognized her hard work and hired her as a permanent Social Services Specialist 2 as a Child and Family Welfare Services (CFWS) worker! Thankfully, EWU offered a Hybrid program that could accommodate her full-time work and she quickly switched to the part-time program. Teresa stated that promoting from a SSS1 to a SSS2 was a huge transition as it meant that she would no longer be in a supportive role but rather carrying her own CFWS caseload. She said the transition was a challenge but was made manageable by having a supportive supervisor and a unit she could go to with any and all questions.

Balancing full-time work with her MSW program can be challenging but the key to her success has been having a strong routine. Early on she recognized that she could not just go straight home from work and expect herself to do homework, so now after work she goes to the gym and then it is straight to the Spokane Riverpoint Campus library, which is open 24 hours! Teresa has been with Children’s Administration for 2 years now and enjoys the work. With school and work she remains extremely busy but to maintain balance she is committed to working out at her local CrossFit gym and maintaining the important relationships she has built there.

- Gerry Charvat