Profiles in Social Work
Driven by a Social Justice Mission
Robin Bonifas, Ph.D
Assistant Professor - Arizona State University, School of Social Work
What attracted you to the field of social work?
I was attracted to the field of social work by its social justice mission and its focus on both the person-in-environment and strengths perspectives. As a college freshman, I knew I wanted to work with people, but I wanted that work to be personally “meaningful” to me. That meant helping people that really needed it and whom others didn’t necessarily want to work with. I remember advisors trying to talk me into other helping professions, but nothing really fit my worldview until I discovered social work. The idea of serving the most vulnerable members of society while at the same time building on their strengths was incredibly powerful to me.
How has the GSWI benefited your career?
GSWI has been tremendously supportive in a many ways. Early in my doctoral studies, I was involved in the Gerontology Enrichment Project with Dr. Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen at the University of Washington. Working on curriculum infusion enabled me to gain valuable skills in curriculum development and program evaluation, plus provided a foundation of research and publication skills. Through the Hartford Doctoral Fellows Program, I was able to further develop my potential for scholarship, especially related to professional communication, research dissemination, and effective career planning – not to mention networking with incredible colleagues! I was also involved in the Practicum Partnership Program at the University of Washington and am currently working with the Masters Advanced Curriculum Project at Arizona State University; both of these projects provide me with excellent opportunities to mentor social work students by either nurturing pre-existing interests in gerontology or developing gerontology as a new area of interest.
How has it allowed you to do what otherwise would not have been possible?
The funding provided by the Hartford Doctoral Fellows Program enabled me to collect primary data for my doctoral dissertation. Now I have my own data set I can use for analysis beyond my dissertation research questions. This makes in possible to not only publish more research articles than I otherwise could, but also provides pilot data for future grant applications.
What are your career goals?
I plan to continue teaching in the areas of health care and gerontology, but also hope to expand my teaching beyond these areas so students with other substantive interests can learn how gerontology connects with their area of specialization, for example, working with child welfare students to prepare them for effective practice with grandparents raising grandchildren. In addition, I aim to continue advancing my primary research agenda, which centers on improving quality of psychosocial care in skilled nursing facilities, and also support nursing home social workers at the state and national level via continuing education, consultation, advocacy, and the provision of networking opportunities.
- contributed by Jeannine Kremer, MSW, LICSW
Updated on November 18, 2010
Here for a complete list of Profiles in Social Work