(Dec. 15, 2017) – When the more than 2,500 University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) graduates cross the stage this weekend at Commencement, the occasion will be a family affair for William and Amber Peters.
The husband and wife, who met in 2016 and fell in love while taking classes together at UTSA, are both earning their degrees from the UTSA Master of Social Work (MSW) program. They are following in their family’s footsteps. Amber’s mother Victoria Hudson ’11 and her twin sister Crystal Johnson-Bryant ’13 also received their master’s in social work from UTSA.
Amber didn’t plan to go back to school after earning her bachelor’s in communications. While working as a college advisor, she had a change of heart. William got his bachelor’s degree in social psychology and wanted to help people more.
“I had a light bulb moment, and I knew social work was my calling,” said Amber.
Victoria was a strong influence on her daughter’s decision to pursue her master’s in social work.
“I shared with her stories about my and Crystal’s journey while studying in the UTSA Master of Social Work program,” said Victoria.
Amber and William say they feel honored and blessed to be able to continue their family’s legacy. Amber adds that having a strong support system is extremely fulfilling.
“The networking possibilities have increased,” said Amber. “With Crystal’s help, I secured an internship that inspired me to provide services for pediatric cancer patients and their families.”
To this family, social work is more than just a job.
“We all have a passion for serving,” Hudson said. “I used to bring my children around my area of work, and they would help me at the homeless shelters for veterans, so they grew up developing a sense of empathy and humility when helping those less fortunate.”
Amber, William, Victoria, and Crystal knew the MSW program within the UTSA College of Public Policy would prepare them with the skills to be culturally competent practitioners. They realize that together they can maximize the impact of their work with vulnerable and diverse populations.
“My cultural competence teacher Jésus Ortega, LMSW prepared me to be equipped to work with diverse populations,” said Amber.
Ortega, an adjunct professor who went through UTSA’s MSW program at the same time as Victoria, talked to his students about the multidimensional perspective the program offers.
“My professor talked about gender groups, racial groups, people with different economic backgrounds, and individuals with disabilities and how we would be working with clients from various experiences and circumstances,” Amber said.
“My course incorporates ethnographic perspectives in working with clients/client systems,” Ortega said. “It is important that students engage in critical self-reflection, incorporating an integrated understanding of one’s own personal and cultural values and beliefs and attention to social and economic justice, critical inquiry, and professional competence, and formulate a plan to engage in life-long learning toward cultural proficiency.”
Victoria is currently the director of social services at Morningside Ministries in San Antonio. Crystal is an organ transplant social worker at University Hospital’s Adult Transplant Center. William recently finished his advanced internship at Communities in Schools (CIS) San Antonio at Montgomery Elementary School. He plans to become a school social worker.
After graduation, Amber plans to work as a social worker at University Hospital’s Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Department. She thinks it would be wonderful and unique experience if she could work alongside her husband, twin sister and her mother in a clinical setting as licensed clinical social workers where they each focus on providing a well-rounded array of services to help families, groups and organizations and to advocate for the human rights of vulnerable populations.
“I admired the family’s work and commitment for social work’s values of social justice, service and competency,” said Ortega.
In second picture to the right: From left to right: Crystal Johnson-Bryant (twin sister) and Victoria Hudson (mother)