2022 Champions for Change DSW Student Spotlight: Gilberto Maldonado

2022 Champions DSW Gilberto Maldonado

by Diandre Glover Thomas

Gilberto Maldonado was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He served more than 20 years in the United States Army and settled in the Pacific North West in 2015. He currently lives in Olympia Washington. Gilberto completed his MSSW from U of L in 2015, and is currently in the first year, second semester of the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program.

The doctoral student chose to study social work because he enjoys helping people. “I value the opportunity to give back to my community and be a resource for underserved, underrepresented members of my community. I am a first generation American. My parents arrived to the United States as undocumented immigrants fleeing violence in the 1970’s. We experienced significant challenges, my parents had to navigate through an oppressive foreign system of government to survive without the protection of local, state, or federal policies. As a social worker, I am committed to be a resource for families who suffer from oppressive and biased systems and assist in the improvement in the quality of their life.”   

Gilberto chose to pursue both of his degrees online. “My education and training while completing my MSSW set the foundation for my second career post military. After completing my MSSW at the University of Louisville I felt prepared to launch into my community as a professional social worker. Once I retired and relocated out of Kentucky the only method for me to complete my DSW was online. I enjoy the flexibility of online learning, as a working professional and a family man, I need to flexibility of online in order to plan and prioritize my responsibilities. If the DSW degree was not offered online, I would not be able to complete. I am excited and grateful for this opportunity!”

In his free time, Maldonado enjoys cooking, grilling, and learning new ways to share meals with his family and friends. He also enjoys hiking, surfing, and is learning to snowboard! However, Maldonado is very busy with his studies and says he enjoys all of his classes. “Through my MSSW, I really enjoyed the courses from my substance abuse specialization. From my DSW, I am fascinated by the material in my Implementation Science and Program Development course. I am realizing that the processes I have been a part of as a professional social worker to improve client care can be more deliberate and systematically carried out in order to achieve sustained success. I am excited for the opportunity to put to practice the lessons and strategies learned.” 

Gilberto has worked in community mental health as a therapist and as a program manager for outpatient mental health programs. He would like to continue working in direct client care at some capacity while he expands his focus to include advocacy and policy at the state and federal level. “I want to encourage people, especially marginalized people, to demand to be heard by their government. I want to fight inequity and racism at all levels.”

When asked if he had any advice for students considering studying social work, Gilberto said, “Social Work is an opportunity to be an agent of change. There are significant rewards social workers earn through assisting others achieve their potential. Making our communities stronger and our government accountable for the well being of its citizens is a tremendous privilege. I would encourage every person to look at his or her community, think about what improvements need to be made, and join the social work profession to be a part of that change.” 

Become a Champion for Change!

We are challenging all our Kent School community of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends to make a gift of $19.36 in support of a Kent scholarship fund of their choice to honor our school’s rich and accomplished history, while supporting the educational pursuits of future social workers and therapists for years to come! Make a gift today! https://louisville.scalefunder.com/gday/giving-day/52028