Humboldt State Celebrates Graduation of Its Original IV-E Pathway Cohort

Humboldt State University has a special reason to celebrate its Title IV-E Pathway Program graduates.

“Last May we had the first of the original Pathway students graduate with her MSW, and this May we had three more of the original Pathway participants graduate,” reports Pathway Project Coordinator Michelle Rainer. “This is a great accomplishment after eight years!”

She notes, “We have other grads who have been in the program for shorter lengths of time. [But the] original group that started with Pathway eight years ago truly followed the pathway from community college to BASW and on to finish the MSW.”

RELATED: Read the FAQs about the Pathway Program

The disributed learning program administered by CalSWEC operates at social work schools at two other California State University campuses besides Humboldt—Chico and San Bernardino; all three serve a total of 19 counties. The program supports social work students at different phases of their education, from BASW through MSW, and addresses the needs of child welfare and Tribal agency employees in isolated areas.  

Students must be employees of a county or Tribal agency and must have been accepted into an educational institution prior to being considered for the Pathway Program.

Graduates Reap Pathway’s Rewards

Humboldt’s graduates are Cindy Farren, who earned her MSW last May, and Sheila Davis, Crystal Nielsen, and Deidra Ward, who earned their degrees last month.     

Ms. Farren (pictured at left) has worked a total of 12 years with the Del Norte Department of Health and Human Services, Child Welfare Services (DHHS, CWS), 10 of them as a social worker. She says she decided to enroll in the Pathway Program “to be able to further my education and be able to promote. Plus, I knew I needed to improve how I looked at things as a social worker and wanted to know more about how I should be a successful social worker.”

For her, the results were tangible and almost immediate. “I graduated in May of 2016, became a Social Worker IV in July of 2016, and have been able to better work with my clients based on things I learned in attending school through the Pathway Program,” affirms Ms. Farren. “Without the program, I would still be a Social Worker III with not as much understanding of my clients and seeing things through their eyes.”

Another veteran, Ms. Davis (pictured at right) has been a social worker with Del Norte DHHS, CWS for almost 10 years. Of the Pathway Program, she says, “It was the only educational opportunity where I could work and attend school. It was very important in the advancement in my position and so I could make more money.” 

Ms. Ward, Social Work Supervisor, also at Del Norte DHHS, CWS, has been a social worker for 10 years. "I was already doing the work and had always wanted a degree," she says, so for her, Pathway "was a great opportunity." She credits the Pathway Program for both broadening and deepening her knowledge. "I am better informed on how to work with children and families involved in child welfare," she says. "I also believe I have a good understanding of the Indian Child Welfare Act and how to practice with cultural humility. I know the emphasis on Indigenous and Rural Communities at HSU has allowed me insight into working alongside people rather than leading them down the path a person with power and privilege directs them."

Kudos to Del Norte

Project Coordinator Rainer has high praise for the social workers’ employer. “Del Norte County has had the most participants of any agency in the HSU Pathway Program from the beginning of Pathway," she says, which also serves Humboldt and Mendocino Counties. "They have been a strong proponent for the development of Pathway and been proactive in encouraging staff to participate as well as supporting them through internships."