Online MSW student who changed careers named MSW Spirit of Social Work awardee

June 18, 2024
Nada Dorman online MSW alum graduation picture

“In the right light, in the right time, everything is extraordinary.” –Director Aaron Rose. 

Even though Rose was most likely making a cinematic reference, Nada Dorman believes that it extends to so much more.

“When I think about this, I think about having faith that things will be okay and work out and that patience is everything,” Nada said. 

Nada is the Garland School’s MSW Alicia Martinez Spirit of Social Work Award recipient, and this quote describes her life’s journey quite well. Nada was a non-traditional graduate student in our online MSW program. After working 20 years in the marketing/public relations profession, she decided to make a change. Even though her first career was full of exciting jobs like working with Netflix, she found this path not to be the one she was called to walk. 

“I’ve always had a helper spirit, but I studied communications, pursued a master’s [degree] and had a really exciting and successful career in marketing and PR, but it just wasn’t fulfilling,” Nada said. “So at 40, my kids weren’t babies anymore, they were in elementary school, and I decided, it was my turn to go to school too.”

Nada, born in Oklahoma to Egyptian parents who immigrated to the US, credits her own journey in therapy for pointing her in the direction of social work as a career.

“I was 22 when I went to therapy for the first time. It was long overdue, and I found so much relief from anxiety,” Nada said. “Then later, I went again in my late 20s and had the same kind of experience. That time, I stayed with that therapist for more than 10 years. Both clinicians were LCSWs. I’d been so supported and inspired for so long that I knew I could do that for others; I wanted to do be that person.” 

Nada said choosing the online program at Baylor was a “win-win” for her.

“I started [the program] in January 2022. I only applied to Baylor and UT, but I had already completed two degrees at UT, and I was really drawn to the intimacy of the Baylor program,” Nada said. “With the pandemic, the online function was a no brainer. And as a mom, I was able to still pick up my kids and make dinner and be me for them, but still do this. It was a win-win!”

I can’t tell you what an honor it is to receive this award. I’m so humbled. I used to think these awards were for the residential students, not the online campus and certainly not for those in the 40 plus category!

During her time in the Garland School’s MSW Standard Program, Nada had two internships. Her first was with Jewish Family Services. When she started, the list to see a therapist was 100-people long, and it took a year to be seen. She saw a need and went to work addressing the problem. She contacted everyone on the list and asked them to join an anxiety support group (as this was a common factor with everyone) and her group therapy began. Her second internship was with Any Baby Can, an agency that strengthens families so children succeed. She worked primarily with teen and young post-partum moms struggling with anxiety and depression. 

Nada graduated from the MSW online program in December of 2023, and is currently working as a school social worker with the Austin Independent School District. Her days are filled with seeing the needs of those around her and problem solving to make things better. 

“I’ve been working as a crisis social worker with Immigrants and refugees, homeless families and foster kids, and if I can offer a piece of advice that has already served me well…listen to your gut, that is definitely part of the process. The needs in our community are so vast, from basic hygiene to trauma repair. I focus on being there, in school, helping them, their families and finding them support throughout the summers and the fact I’ll meet them in August when they’re back.” 

Nada noted the gifts her social work education and her social work professors gave her during her time at the Garland School of Social Work that has carried into her new career.

“Social workers have an incredible sense of intuition that our professors have helped us fine tune. Use your research skills to read about what you’re thinking and feeling about a client. Tune in to what you’re seeing,” Nada said. “You should always be assessing. That competency doesn’t just sometimes need to happen, it’s like a sensor that allows us to engage without words.”

One of Nada’s professors had this to say about her, “Nada is an outspoken advocate for the marginalized. She is the kind of social worker we love to teach and see enter the profession as she loves micro, mezzo and macro work. She currently works in a school, but she regularly shows up at the capitol to lobby for laws and policies that empower those that have been left out. She doesn’t just care; she responds to make a difference!”

Nada added, “I can’t tell you what an honor it is to receive this award. I’m so humbled. I used to think these awards were for the residential students, not the online campus and certainly not for those in the 40 plus category!”

Congratulations, Nada! We are so proud of you and the work you are doing to support children and families in your school and around the Austin area. We look forward to watching you grow in your social work journey. Sic, ‘Em!