How Yuma-based Master of Social Work Program Could Impact Community

Jan 25, 2021

Until recently, those in Yuma and other communities in our region had little choice if they wanted to pursue a career in social work.  While Northern Arizona University’s Yuma campus offers a bachelor's degree in Social Work, a master’s level program meant traveling out of town, most likely to Phoenix. 


On this episode of Arizona Edition, host Lou Gum talks to a student and an educator about why a Yuma-based Master of Social Work (MSW) program is better for local students and the community. 

"Whenever there are programs other place, students go do their internships at other places. And they end up building their professional networks in other places. And they rarely end up coming back to where they were," Brett Petersen

Twenty-four MSW students are set to graduate from Arizona State University’s first Yuma-based program in May.  

Student Stephanie Ordaz Acosta says the Yuma program allows her to complete internships and fieldwork in her own community. She did not have to relocate her family or craft a schedule that included weekly round trips to Phoenix. 


Brett Petersen, an ASU coordinator for the Yuma program, says future graduates like Ordaz Acosta, who are committed to staying in the region, will affect big changes within the local social services network. 


Those focused on the inter-personal will expand therapy options for individuals.


Students focused on broader community issues will use their understanding of demographics and other social realities to conduct policy research and organize change. And Petersen says rural communities like Yuma, that can miss out on state and federal grant dollars to expand or invigorate local services, will benefit from having a pool of MSW recipients that are often required in grant applications.