Leticia Cisneros (’15) | M.S. in Social Work
Hometown: Sacramento, California
The passion to be a voice for those with no voice led Leticia Cisneros, Master of Social Work student, to pursue a master’s degree at Abilene Christian University.
“It became clear to me during my final year of my undergrad,” Cisneros said, “that my goals, visions and hopes to impact individuals with disabilities would best be achieved if I had a master’s in social work.”
Cisneros’ fieldwork placement within the Special Education Department of Abilene ISD was a perfect fit for her to develop her passion into a profession. In her placement, Cisneros said she is evaluating how AISD functions within the community and how the different local, state, and federal policies affect the district.
Prior to beginning her placement with the AISD, Cisneros worked within a preschool special education class as a teacher’s aide. During that time, Cisneros grew her passion for students with disabilities and developmental delays.
“I knew then,” Cisneros said, “that I would work with that very population and their families to try and fill the many gaps I observed while working in that position.”
In her evaluations, Cisneros said she assesses the discipline and attendance in AISD, and how various positive behavior interventions are used across AISD campuses. Cisneros interacts with various teachers and programs throughout AISD while evaluating, and through that is able to be a voice for students with disabilities.
“I believe I bring a different approach to the table than what is commonly seen because of my social work background,” Cisneros said, “and thankfully it is heard and appreciated.”
Cisneros has been able to gain real hands-on, realistic experience with her placement and knows what it is like to work with a school district and how policies effect the entire system.
“My placement is the best opportunity that I could have ever received to help aide in my growth as a social worker who wants to one day work in schools,” Cisneros said.
Cisneros came into the program with the desire to work with special needs kids in a school setting and Rachel Slaymaker, ACU’s social work director of field education, made it happen. Slaymaker was able to build a relationship with AISD to give Cisneros and future students the opportunity to intern with the district’s special education department.
“Her dedication to students and the program,” Cisneros said, “have proved to me that ACU and the social work department is the best environment for me to be in to grow and learn as an individual and future professional.”
As a graduate student at ACU, Cisneros said her experience allowed her to grow in various ways, including in her faith and spirituality.
“The field of social work calls on many individuals to work in environments and with issues that can test one’s faith,” Cisneros said, “but ACU has taught me how to balance my faith and practice in the field.”
After graduation, Cisneros hopes to continue her work with special needs children in schools as an advocate, educator, and activist for those children and families.
“There are many students with disabilities or challenges and I feel it is my duty to try to advocate for them on a individual and systemic level,” Cisneros said.
With the training and education Cisneros has received at ACU, she will be equipped to achieve her goals and make a difference in the lives of special needs children.