Alumni Spotlight

Angel Y. Rodriguez ’97, MSSA
Supervising Children’s Social Worker
Los Angeles County Department
of Children & Family Services

Major: Social Work

Activities: Social Work Council

What first attracted you to Whittier College?  When I walked onto the campus for the first time, it was to take my SAT. Whittier felt like home. When I learned about the size of the classes and the level of attention of the faculty, I knew it was the right place for me. I only hoped that Whittier would welcome me as a Poet – and they did.    

Why did you choose to study social work? I wanted to study something that was going to help me achieve my goal of improving life conditions for others. I did not know how I could do that and my “Intro to Social Work” class showed me the many ways in which I could impact others.  Social work made sense to me. I have no regrets about studying social work. It continues to be gratifying.

Describe your experience at Whittier College. I had an amazing experience at Whittier. I had the opportunity to learn from wonderful professors that challenged me in many ways. I attended lectures at the Shannon Center with author Amy Tan and other fantastic scholars. I made friends with my social work colleagues and kept connected with them as a way of supporting myself in the classroom and in my internship. This was important because, as an off-campus student, I spent a considerable amount of time at work to support my education at Whittier. 

What was your most memorable moment at Whittier College? My first day of orientation and then graduation! Both days were awesome, so emotional and celebratory of a major life accomplishment. 

Did you intern while at Whittier College? Where, and what was that experience like? As a social work major, I had to intern 400 hours during my senior year. I accepted an internship with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. It was a challenging experience because it was my first opportunity to practice social work with children and families experiencing challenging life circumstances. I felt academically prepared to do the work.  However, having the opportunity to apply the knowledge I had gained in the classroom was critical to my development. The internship led to a permanent job and I have proudly remained a County employee since 1997.

What was your first job after Whittier? What are you currently up to? How has your Whittier education benefited you professionally? My first job was as an entry-level social worker with Los Angeles County.  I felt very fortunate to have that opportunity thanks to Whittier’s partnership with them. My education at Whittier prepared me to pursue a master’s degree in social work at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. All of this contributed to my pursuit of the management position I currently hold. I have led three pilot initiatives including my current assignment managing a federal multi-million dollar grant. I have also had the great fortune to teach social work practice courses on an adjunct basis in the SASW Department at Whittier. It is one of my greatest accomplishments.

What advice would you give to future social work alumni when they graduate? Network as much as you can! Go to graduate school. Always maintain an updated resume and a well-written biography and make sure you have someone you trust provide feedback to you. Be involved in your community – whatever that means for you. Be generous with your time, talents and resources. Maintain your ethical and professional behavior to the highest standards.

Finish this sentence: I am a ‘Poet for Life’ because…Whittier gave me a solid foundation on which to build a professional career and because it is and always will be “home.”

-Are you a graduate of the Department of Social Work and want to share you story? Contact the Office of Communications at therock@whittier.edu

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