DENTON (UNT), Texas -- When Jordan Holley enrolled in the Introduction to Social Work class at the University of North Texas, she had no idea the class would change her life. But it did. And the social work major and graduating senior has been changing the lives of others ever since, both as an advocate for disenfranchised populations and as a leader for fellow social workers.
UNT's Social Work program, based in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service, recently recognized Holley for her contributions by awarding her with a Fannie Belle Gaupp Outstanding Student Award. A 2010 graduate of Garland High School and former resident of Sachse, Holley will receive her bachelor of social work degree on May 10.
Holley said her teachers have inspired her to live in the present and be compassionate and competent in all areas of her life.
"If you put your heart and mind into your passion, anything and everything is possible," she said. "I get so much energy from encouraging others in life."
During her four years at UNT, Holley has worked as a crisis intervention specialist with Denton County Friends of the Family, a domestic violence and sexual assault shelter. She also served as student representative and national board member for the National Association of Social Workers, vice president of the UNT Social Work Student Association and president of Phi Alpha Honor Society for Social Work. In addition, she produced two graduate career fairs for social work students at UNT and Texas Woman's University.
"Jordan has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the field of social work," said Brenda Sweeten, lecturer and social work field director in UNT's social work program. "What sets her apart is that she is always encouraging to peers, and she stands as an excellent example of what service to others and the community is all about."
Holley travels to Washington, D.C., every other month to participate as the only undergraduate student representative on the board of directors of the National Association of Social Workers, the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world. There she meets community leaders from across the nation who share her passion for advocacy, and gets experience in shaping and funding social policies.
At the Denton County Friends of the Family, she works on a 24/7 crisis hotline for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and screens eligible clients into the shelter, many of whom are women and children.
"Working with these survivors has opened my eyes to the intense struggle that I didn't even know existed in my community," she said.
UNT's social work program sponsors an annual graduate and career fair thanks to Holley's foresight and initiative. Holley said she created the event so that seniors of social work could meet prospective employers and representatives from Texas universities that offer master's degree programs in social work. Now in its second year, the fair attracts more than 100 students from both UNT and Texas Woman's University.
Holley will pursue a master's degree in social work at Texas Christian University, where she will reunite with Lynn Jackson, an assistant professor at TCU and her former teacher who introduced her to the field of social work.
"It has been a pleasure to watch Jordan develop her knowledge and skills and implement what she has learned in her work outside the university, all while managing to keep her academic pursuits a priority," said Jackson. "I will be proud to have her as a graduate student and social work colleague."
This news release was written by Julie West.