CalSWEC Graduate and Alumni Stories

Graduates of CalSWEC's Title IV-E Child Welfare Stipend Program and Mental Health Program (effective July 1, 2016, renamed the Integrated Behavioral Health Program offering the MHSA Stipend) can be found working in almost every county in the state as well as in academia and other social work-related professions. Here they share their stories.

If you would like to share your story or know of someone whose story should be told, please contact Karen Ringuette,

Daniel McKinnis (MSW, California State University, Fullerton—Child Welfare), took a chance on pursuing the M.S.W. in child welfare and in his IV-E internship in Dependency Drug Court realized 'a perfect fit' in a career he both loves and that fulfills his desire to help others. Read Daniel's story.

Shelby Boston (MSW, California State University, Chico—Child Welfare) may have fallen into social work “by accident,” but her journey from social worker to Director of the Butte County Department of Employment and Social Services is beyond mere serendipity. Read Shelby's story.

Aaron Cadore (MSW, UC Berkeley—Child Welfare), the son of immigrant Caribbean parents, has discovered that the skills he used in Child Protective Services are also applicable to Adult Protective Services. Read Aaron's story.

Stephanie Weldon (MSW, Humboldt State University—Child Welfare), Yurok, Tolowa, and Karuk, and an enrolled Yurok Tribal member, says, “I’ve always been involved, and I’ve always expected to give back to the community.” She’s been doing this in a big way, for both the Yurok and Humboldt County Social Services. Read Stephanie's story.

Ruby Garcia (MSW, California State University, San Bernardino—Child Welfare), currently a forensic interviewer for the Riverside County Child Assessment Center, has fulfilled her promise to be a role model for her son and a positive influence to underserved populations. Read Ruby's story.

Brandon Burton (MSW, University of Southern California)—Child Welfare), the only child welfare social worker in Ventura’s newly formed Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Unit, has found to his surprise that his previous career in theater arts often augments his work as a social worker. Read Brandon's story.

Mary Pagan (MSW, Humboldt State University—Child Welfare) earned her BA—the first in her blue-collar family to graduate from college—and her MSW, both while working as a child welfare social worker in Lake County, proof that she has a fire in her belly for child welfare. Read Mary's story.

Luis Quintanilla (MSW, UCLA—Mental Health) credits his mother for inspiring him to strive to make the world a better place after his heartbreaking encounter at the age of 9 with children in extreme poverty in her home country of Bolivia. Read Luis’s story.

Aprille Flint (MSW, San José State University—Child Welfare) had originally set her sights on law school, but when life happened, she embraced motherhood and social work, where her passion for social justice is reflected in her current community engagement work. Read Aprille’s story.

Tech Tran (MSW, California State University, East Bay—Mental Health) developed his social work skills organically, as an immigrant youngster and as an 18-year-old who, along with his mother, was granted guardianship over his young niece and nephews. Read Tech's story.

Ruth Supranovich (MSW, San Diego State University—Child Welfare) has followed in the footsteps of her dedicated social worker parents and carved out a fulfilling career in CWS, management, and academia. Read Ruth’s story.

Omar López (MSW, San Diego State University—Child Welfare), today a clinical associate professor and assistant director of field education at USC's School of Social Work, credits the Title IV-E program for transforming his life both personally and professionally. Read Omar's story.

Jessica Diaz France (MSW, San Francisco State University—Mental Health) was motivated to pursue an education and a career in social work to address underlying mental illness that she saw go unaddressed in her work at a non-profit law firm. Read Jessica’s story.

Donna Thoreson (MSW, UC Berkeley—Child Welfare), who returned to college after 20 years, credits the Title IV-E Child Welfare Stipend Program for helping her gain a deeper understanding of the barriers facing children and families, thus enabling her to work more effectively on their behalf. Read Donna’s story.

Stephanie Welch (MSW, University of Southern California—Mental Health) realized an early passion to advocate for the de-stigmatization of mental illness and today is Senior Program Manager with the California Mental Health Services Authority. Read Stephanie’s story.

Michelle D. Love (MSW, UC Berkeley—Child Welfare) found her calling as well as an opportunity to grow professionally at Children & Family Services in the Alameda County Social Services Agency. Read Michelle’s story.