MSW 2: Brother Brian

As I mentioned a few days ago, I am hoping to do a series on social workers and all the things they can and do do.  I can’t actually claim to have gotten a lot of traction on the idea– but I still have hope.  Perhaps this first interview will help things a bit. Brother Brian is an amazing person who I know both in real life and on the blogosphere.  Even Especially if you are not a social worker, take the 3 minutes it will take you to read this and learn why Brian thinks that “the traditional view of the social worker as a case manager no longer stands. Social Workers are in many areas of the social fabric of our lives.”

1. What is your name:

Bro. Brian Halderman, S.M., MSW

2. What are you passionate about?

I have a great passion for helping others learn about and understand more deeply the social inequities of our US culture. I try to create opportunities for young adults to be exposed to these inequities and to reflect on them in light of their faith tradition and/or current economic and social status. I also have a great passion for creating avenues of pastoral understanding with the Christian tradition for the LGBT community and for those impacted by HIV/AIDS.

3. Why did you want to be a social worker?

To have a profession that was beyond myself; being a social worker is not about status or money or titles rather its about being there for other people, creating social connections, empowering others to take the next step toward success and inner peace.

4. What education do you have?

Masters in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis with a concentration in Social and Economic Development for the Empowerment of Children, Youth and Families.

5. How do you think being a social worker changed you?

The traditional view of the social worker as a case manager no longer stands. Social Workers are in many areas of the social fabric of our lives. A social worker really is a professional social bridge builder – making connections and empowering individuals and communities to move to the next place of progress. Social worker cares for the human person from birth to natural death – you will find a social worker in the delivery room and at the bedside of a hospice patient. You will find a social worker in the far off reaches of the rural Amazon and in the urban core of the New York. We really are everywhere, doing every possible job you can think of that involves building human capital and spirit.

6. Where do you work?

I am the University Minister for Social Justice and Adjunct Faculty member in Sociology Department at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. Working in Higher Education has been a wonderful opportunity for me to share with young adults eager to learn some of the social inequities of our world. To challenge them to think differently about the social order and to see how their education can have an impact on the common good.  I try to help students see how their future is a life vocation to build a more just and equitable world.

7. What is the best part of your job?

When students have those “aha” moments. When something clicks for them… when they see that the world is just not fair to everyone. I see them go from exposure to an issue, to understanding, to being challenged by, to finally wanting to respond to the human need they are faced with in a particular social issue.

8. What is the worst part of your job?

The red tape and bureaucracy of a university environment

9. Why does your job matter?

Because education is the key to ending poverty and social inequalities. Our university educates many first generation Latinos to attend university.  The institution keeps this as a priority in our mission. Helping these young men and women understand not only their own oppression, but the oppression of others and how they respond with liberation is very important.  The reality is, I learn more from them at times, then they learn from me.

10. What would you change in the world if you could?

I would solve the problem of economic poverty. I would create a level playing field in out economic structures, so that all would have the same opportunity to live a life free of worry – that food would be on the table, shelter would be over their head, a quality education would be provided to their children… etc.

11. What do you wish the world knew about social work?

That social work is more than case management and child protective services. Social Work is really about creating new systems and understandings for building communities and organizations concerned about he social fabric of our lives.

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Photo of Brother Brian (far left) with several St. Mary’s University students and the Roman Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of Tegucigalpas, Honduras (Oscar Andres Rodriguez) who was in San Antonio to deliver a lecture on global solidarity the second Saturday of October.

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