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Sunday, December 10, 2023

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LSSWA 2023 Board Members (left to right): Gerardo Angel Godinez, Paola Zepeda, Oli Chen, Fermin Vasquez, Lizbeth Castro, Dr. Dahila Fuentes, and Danielle Quiroga. (SDSU) LSSWA 2023 Board Members (left to right): Gerardo Angel Godinez, Paola Zepeda, Oli Chen, Fermin Vasquez, Lizbeth Castro, Dr. Dahila Fuentes, and Danielle Quiroga. (SDSU)

SDSU’s Latino Student Social Work Association: Empowering Latinx Students Through Collaboration and Community Volunteerism

“One small step forward towards change is better than none” is the LSSWA motto.
By Peggy Pico

Gerardo Angel Godinez, a first-generation student majoring in social work, discovered San Diego State University’s Latino Student Social Work Association (LSSWA) by chance when he saw the slogan “One Heart, One Community” on a poster pinned to a campus bulletin board. 


He got hooked on the idea and, now a year later, he’s president of the student-led club that does everything it can to make its motto a reality.  


“Student members can be any race, cultural or ethnic background and major,” explained Godinez. “We welcome everyone who wants to celebrate their heritage, engage in open discussions about critical issues on campus and get connected to valuable SDSU services and resources.”   


Members also get plenty of opportunities to do volunteer work, often in collaboration with other on-campus clubs interested in supporting and working with Latinx communities and local nonprofit agencies. 


For example, during Hispanic Heritage Month, LSSWA students participated in the San Diego AIDS Walk and Run event to support  LGBTQIA+ students. They are also partnering with the  Black Student Caucus Association to collaborate on an upcoming project this semester helping students in marginalized communities.  


“As a group, we research the volunteer opportunities we are passionate about and want to do, and we invite other campus associations to do that with us,” Godinez said. 


Last year, LSSWA collected and delivered blankets to people experiencing homelessness, and they donated 100 bags of food for needy families in Barrio Logan. They’ll do a similar project this December in collaboration with the Latino Social Work Network of San Diego. 


Student members meet twice a month and share experiences that promote educational, professional, and personal growth. Guest speakers and members offer additional opportunities such as practicing public speaking and learning about applying to graduate school. 


“The majority of our members are first-generation college students,” said Dahlia Fuentes, associate director and lecturer at SDSU’s School of Social Work and the LSSWA faculty advisor.


Fuentes said the meetings offer an enhanced educational experience and provide an opportunity for students to network across programs, with SDSU alumni and professionals in the community. The gatherings also include time to socialize.


“We also do fun activities while learning about relevant and vital issues to the Latinx communities,” said Fuentes “Students have a great time. For example, in our next meeting, LSSWA members will celebrate the significance of Dia de los Muertos while decorating sugar skulls.”


Godinez said giving back to students and the community that helped him is vital to his well-being and success. 


“I’m a survivor of trauma, and after my dad passed away a few years ago, I was lucky to get the assistance, resources, and support through a mentor on campus,” said Godinez. “I want to give that back to students with similar experiences. This association helps me to do that.” 


Students interested in joining, volunteering, or learning more about the Latino Student Social Work Association can access the group on their LSSWA Instagram page and QR link. 


“Just be yourself and get involved,” Godeniz said. “It’s a total educational experience. You’ll get to do some good stuff while meeting a lot of great people.”