Meet Some of Our Alumni

Greetings from Cebu Philippines and from CSUSB MSW Alum. I have been here since 2008 serving as an Aftercare Fellow for International Justice Mission - IJM <> which is a Christian NGO that investigates, prosecutes, and provides aftercare relief for victims of violent injustice. IJM has field offices all over the world, and our case work here in Cebu focuses on sex trafficking and child prostitution.

A year ago I quit my job at Orange County Social Services Agency, where I worked for almost 10 years. I was in child welfare a total of 12 years after graduating in 1996 and starting out at Riverside County DPSS. I enjoyed public child welfare, passed on some opportunities to promote and just loved being in the field. As a Fellow, they asked me to help out with an Economic Self-Sufficiency and Reintegration Project, which aims to provide training and employment opportunities for our clients. This Project was unlike anything I've done, but the professional and educational experience I had in the States helped me here in the developing world. And
of course, returning back to serve in my birthplace is like a dream come true for me. I am still happily married and we have three children, ages 9, 4, and 1. We have decided to extend our stay at least through the end of the year after IJM asked me to help with another project, this time serving as a director in one of their aftercare shelters. We are trying to establish good practice here and again, it is stretching me professionally. But I continue to draw from my professional work experience and trying to
make it meaningful and impactful in the local context.

Russ Bermejo
MSW 1996

When asked what he could share to inspire prospective students to join us he said:

“Without being overly dramatic, I would definitely say my experience was transformative. It changed me, my outlook on life, who I was and my role in the world”.

We asked Ned to give one piece of advice to people considering the MSW program. His answer was:

“I think it was the “waterfall”. Most of our services are at the bottom of the waterfall…we pick people up from the bottom and try to boost them up to the top. That was what led me to Macro practice…the top of the waterfall before they go over…the continuum of services that need to be there from prevention, education, outreach and all of that through counseling and traditional programs.

Ned Cooney
Founder of Ascent Strategic Development, 2004

Pam Miller, the Deputy Director of the Department of Employment and Social Services for Yolo County, is one of our “first born!”

An alumnus of the first part time cohort in 1992, her job is administration, coordination, policy making, budgeting, and the development and maintenance of community partners.

Does she use her direct practice skills?

“In getting people to work together in group process and in policy making, the clinical things I learned have been helpful.”I miss the hands on. But I am able to directly impact how seniors in this county are being served. I love the program development piece. I also really enjoy the network and improving relationships between agencies.”

About her experience in the program,

Pam said she “worked as a line worker before I decided to get my MSW. I think I was a good line worker, but not an excellent line worker. I became one after I got my MSW.”

Daniel Perez, MSW, Class of 2001

“I am a Program Coordinator for San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. In my job I work with the HIV/AIDS Planning Council from the Inland Empire of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. I also oversee planning carried out by ten staff as well as the development of RFPs for services from community-based non-profit organizations.”

“Are you doing anything that you had NO idea you would be doing after graduating?”

“Everything! But I know I have the ability and the intuition to be able to do things on a larger scale. Social work gave me a tool box and a set of tools I know I can work with.”

“What is your advice to people considering the MSW program at CSUSB?”

“Graduate school forges amazing bonds with other human beings. CSUSB’s MSW program is a small program. It is not just an educational experience. It is a life experience.”

“What is one thing about Social Work that MSW applicants need to know?”

“When I started the MSW program, in my heart I was a social worker. If they don’t have that going in, if that’s not an intrinsic gut feeling, that is something they need to explore.”

Sam Fellows, MSW, M.A. Education/Counseling

Sam is a retiredschool guidance counselor. Another “first born” alumnus of the 1992 class.

“What can you tell prospective applicants to entice them into “taking the leap” into the MSW program?”

“I would like to tell them that the MSW has universality across 50 states and abroad. You can do virtually anything from A to Z with this degree. And you do not have to take an oath of poverty simply because you are going to become a Social Worker.”

“What can you say to allay fears about doing research as part of the program?”

“When many of us think ‘research’ we think of some lofty phenomenon. But you do not have to tackle this on your own. You get help and support from faculty, and you can work collaboratively with other students if you choose to.”

Tinya Holt, MSW, ACSW, was a graduate of 2000, and the first MSW student to be awarded the College of Social and Behavioral Science Graduate Student of the Year.

Tinya’s present position is Executive Director of Perris Valley Recovery Programs, Inc.
Services include outpatient substance abuse treatment, 12 step meetings, employee assistance programs, and referral for county and community resources.

“Do your job responsibilities include both direct and “macro” practice?”

“I am doing administration, program development, advocacy, and training.
But I also do direct practice, as well as networking. And I belong to quite a few partnerships.”

“What would you tell a prospective applicant considering our MSW program?”

“Make sure that you are able to commit your time and energy. If you want a career where you are able to make a difference, then Social Work would be for you.”


Susan Anthes-Todd, MSW

My professors and staff at CSUSB may have wondered what became of me. I am actually working in Sacramento for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. CSUSB has educated many social work professionals who are now serving the community. I just wanted to let you know that after being in the field for several years now that I have worked with folds who received their education from other schools and have not had the extensive training that I received at CSUSB. I have come to appreciate the education that I received at the Cal State system. It truly has allowed me to surpass my cohorts in the field.

I have gone on to receive an MBA in Healthcare Management and after relocating back to California after working in other states for a few years, I can happily say that I have just completed my clinical hours here in the State of California and will soon be taking the LCSW test.

Recently I was on a morning television show here in Sacramento called "Good Morning Sacramento". It's much like "Good Day America". I was promoting a special program I developed for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I have partnered with a senior ladies doll making club who is now making beautiful dolls for my young patients hospitalized for Leukemia and other blood disorders.

Kenneth F. Sawa, MSW 1992

Kenneth Sawa earned a master’s degree in social work in 1992 from California State University, San Bernardino. He is a proud graduate of the first class of part-time students in the Department of Social Work. Ken earned a bachelor's degree from California State University, Fullerton, a master's degree in education counseling and guidance from Loyola Marymount University, and a Pupil Personnel Services Credential from the California Commission on State Credentialing. In 2008, Ken was recognized by National Association of Social Workers-Region F as Social Worker of the Year.