Social Work Student Spotlight: Sophia Zarate

By By Paola Quintanilla, School of Social Work

Sophia ZarateSophia Zarate graduated from the School of Social Work with her Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree in Spring 2024. In April 2023, she attended Lobby Days in Sacramento and where she learned about the 23Strong Council. After researching what their mission is and how it aligns with her goals, she shared interest in becoming a representative for SJSU’s MSW Program. Being a part of the 23Strong Council Board she got out of her comfort zone and enhanced her leadership skills by networking with others in the field of social work. Most importantly, her involvement with 23Strong Council developed a stronger experience in the macro side of social work whilst learning more about policy and advocacy work.

23Strong is a Council with the National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter (NASW-CA). The purpose of the 23Strong Council is for student leaders from the 23 accredited California social work programs to collaborate through organized efforts and calls to action to combat social injustices and change public policy that oppresses and marginalizes at-risk and vulnerable populations. They do this by addressing social issues through lobbying for policies that align with the NASW and council mission statement through the use of forums, written statements, and community organizing.

Sophia’s role as the board President consists of being responsible for administrative duties related to the day-to-day leadership of the 23Strong Council with guidance and assistance from the 23Strong advisor, vice-president, and in collaboration with NASW-CA institutional regulations and polices. She assists with the recruiting, planning and the onboarding for incoming board members. Furthermore, she assists the treasurer in the facilitation of financial forecasts and forms, leads all monthly board and general meetings, and also facilitates the planning and implementation of three to five academic,informative, and/or educational events throughout the academic school year. Most importantly, as President she serves as a spokesperson for the student body at large, since representing the students of the 23 CSU campuses is the primary goal of the entire student council.

Some of the events that the 23Strong Council have organized are virtual career panels, workshops, Lobby days support, and Lobby Days Social Mixer. This year an initiative they have been supporting is stopping the tuition increases in the CSU system, as well as backing initiatives that support advancing issues related to Black women lacking proper medical care.

Having grown up in one of the lowest socioeconomic areas of San José, Sophia witnessed many of the injustices and inequities that people experienced. The older she became the more aware she was of how little representation these communities receive. Social justice issues are very important to Sophia on various levels, from the people who need social work services to those who provide them and the issues affecting them as a whole. The 23Strong Council affords her opportunities to support social work students and also to advocate and support initiatives aimed at improving the lives of those less represented in vulnerable, marginalized, and oppressed communities. With her MSW, Sophia hopes to continue her path in social work at a macro level where she can help support, advocate, and initiate changes that support all shareholders within the social work field.

Comments are closed.