Marlena Cesar ’15MSW works at Southern Jamaica Plain Community Health Center
Alumna talks about being a Clinical Social Worker and Intake Coordinator.
Why did you choose Simmons SSW?
I was first exposed to clinical social work as part of a multidisciplinary team at the South End Community Health Center. I had multiple roles there but was most drawn to the work done by her clinical colleagues. “The work they did with patients was an integral part of their physical wellness. It helped me to see how important it is to consider the whole as a way of making improvements in one’s overall health.” It was then that she decided to pursue her MSW. Many of her coworkers had attended Simmons for their own degrees, so Marlena explored the program and decided to apply.
Where are you working now? What is your position?
I am a Clinical Social Worker and Intake Coordinator. I serve as the first point of contact for patients visiting the behavioral health department at Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, a community health center funded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital. I connect patients to individual, group, and family therapy, using an assessment and referral model.
What brought you to Simmons?
I was first exposed to clinical social work as part of a multidisciplinary team at the South End Community Health Center. I had served in multiple roles but was most drawn to the work done by my clinical colleagues. The work they did with patients was an integral part of their physical wellness. It helped me to see how important it is to consider the whole as a way of making improvements in one’s overall health. I then decided to pursue my MSW. Many of my coworkers had attended Simmons for their own degrees, so I explored the program and decided to apply.
What did Simmons do to prepare you for your current role?
The strong clinical coursework, in conjunction with complimentary field work, accelerated my learning and solidified my clinical skill set. With the support of my clinical supervisors, my second year field placement allowed me to put theory into practice. I felt more self-assured in my work and inspired to keep growing clinically. Additionally the Urban Leadership Program prepared me to be an agent of change in the Latino community. It gave me perspective on the importance of collaboration between micro and macro social workers as a gateway to improve the health of this underserved population.
Part of my student experience that allowed me to feel most grounded and build my confidence as a clinician of color was my membership of the Simmons chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers.
How do you find your position at the South End Community Health Center rewarding?
My work puts me in touch with a wide range of clients, many of whom may not have sought out help before. Stigma is a major barrier to connecting with behavioral health services. It feels gratifying to know that in my role as a social worker I can provide an emotionally safe space for clients to open up about their experience. For many, this is the first time they give an outsider insight into their lives. I appreciate how difficult it can be and admire their bravery.