Faculty Spotlight: Franklin Bolanos

Hello MSW Toros! I would like to welcome you to the 2017-2018 school year. This year, I have the pleasure of serving as one of your Event Coordinators in GASW to help enhance your experience. One of my goals is to work to fill in the gap between the part-time and full-time communities and bring them together to make meaningful connections and show what our organization has to offer. As our part-time community grows, so does our faculty member community; creating more mentors to guide us through our MSW journey. This year the MSW Extended Education community welcomes new faculty member, Mr. Franklin Bolanos. As part of our warm welcome to him, we took the time to ask him to share about his own MSW journey and the road this career path has taken him.

Full name: Franklin Bolanos

Degrees earned and Universities attended: BA in Psychology from UCLA MSW from UCLA

1st and 2nd year internships:

My 1st year internship was at the Occupational Therapy Training Program (OTTP) in Torrance. This was a challenge for me as it was my first time working with children and adolescents. It was a valuable experience and I had a very supportive supervisor who helped me lead groups and do assessments for the first time.

My 2nd year internship was at Harbor UCLA Adult Outpatient clinic. This was my dream internship as it was the only internship opportunity that provided CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) training in both English and Spanish. My internship experience at Harbor UCLA provided me with excellent clinical mentors and people whom I aspire to be like to this day.

Jobs after finishing your degree?

After completing my MSW degree, I was hired at the Harbor UCLA FSP (Full Service Partnership) program. I considered this FSP job to be the quintessential social work job. I got a chance to see how severe mental illness impacts the lives of our clients in the environments where they live. As an FSP team member I've traveled to board and cares, hospitals, private homes, jails, and courtrooms to assist and advocate for my clients. This job gave me valuable insight into how larger systems and policies affect those with mental illness. After two years with FSP I moved back to the Harbor UCLA Adult Outpatient clinic as a full-time clinician, where I still work. Harbor has been great to me over the years, providing excellent clinical training and supervision. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of conference presentations discussing and sharing the work we do with the dissemination and cultural adaptations to evidence based practices in a community mental health setting.

For the past three years I have also been a member of the Department of Mental Health Psychiatric Mobile Response Team (PMRT). This job involves responding county wide to clients experiencing psychiatric crisis. PMRT has been a great learning environment and has allowed me to develop and home in crisis response and evaluation skills.

Classes you are teaching at CSUDH?

I am teaching MSW 550 - Advanced Practice in Communities. I feel very fortunate to be able to provide students with practical and clinical examples from my own experience in community mental health. My aim is to make theories and concepts of interventions with communities come alive in the classroom with real world examples and hands on exercises.

Your aspirations before you began your MSW program:

I was the first person from my Hispanic, monolingual Spanish speaking family to go to college, let alone graduate school which meant I had no example to follow. I was unsure about what graduate school would entail and if I would be up for the challenge. One thing I did know was that I wanted to focus on mental health and be a strong clinician so that I could work with communities like the one I grew up in.

Your aspirations after you finished your MSW program:

After my MSW program and thanks to my internship experience I felt passionate about working with adults in community mental health settings. I had a glimpse into the profound change that appropriate interventions could have on people’s lives and I wanted to find a way to continue that work and strengthen my skill set.

Have you accomplished the goals you once had as a student?

Looking back at the goals I set out for myself I can happily report that I am making great progress. I firmly believe that the goals of being a strong clinician and making a positive impact on the community are long term endeavors. My training and experience has provided me with great tools to do the work, but I also know that the work will always continue as the needs and environments of our clients change. Thus, I must continue to learn more and adapt what I do know to fit the needs of my client and the community.

What do you love the most about being a Social Worker?

I love that I love what I do. Social work is an incredibly fulfilling job and one that has clear value and significance for those we work with. I love being a part of a professional community that values people and works tirelessly to reduce suffering in so many ways.

Advice you would give current students about school or the future?

I want to convey to students that social work is a versatile degree with many possibilities and means of helping people on every level. Don’t worry about finding that perfect job right out of school, changing jobs is normal and your first job out of graduate school will likely not be your last. Try to learn as much from every opportunity afforded to you and build confidence in your skill set.

Anything you want us to know about you such as your favorite color or favorite food?

Favorite food is a tie between tacos and Thai food. I hope someone comes up with a fusion soon.