News • August 17, 2022

Hooding ceremonies include first cohort from Doctor of Social Work program

Hooding ceremonies include first cohort from Doctor of Social Work program

Riverside, Calif. (Aug. 17, 2022) – This week hundreds of graduate degree candidates at California Baptist University celebrated their academic achievements with hooding ceremonies leading up to commencement on Aug. 17-18.

More than 580 master’s degree candidates and 58 doctoral candidates are eligible to participate in the summer commencements. Colleges and schools at CBU host program-specific hooding ceremonies to recognize their candidates. Students are given distinctive colored hoods, representative of their program, to wear at their commencement ceremony. 

The doctoral candidates included the first cohort to graduate from the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program. The 30 students made up the largest graduating doctoral class in CBU history.

“All of these students started their doctoral journey during a global pandemic that was fraught with uncertainty,” said Dr. Krystal Hays, program director of the Doctor of Social Work. “It was beautiful to watch God use them to develop all kinds of socially innovative programs that will have a real impact on the world.”

During the two-year program, the students designed social innovations to address a specific social problem. Their projects ranged from nonprofit organizations seeking to eliminate homelessness to initiatives that will reduce disparities in healthcare.

“The breadth and depth of these innovations is amazing and will make a significant impact on families, organizations and communities in our region and around the globe,” Hays said.

Dr. April Johnson, who earned her DSW, created a nonprofit, Genesis Hope, aimed at providing communities with equitable access to nutritious food. She is also a licensed marriage and family therapist and became an adjunct professor at CBU.

“Being a part of the first cohort to graduate is a wonderful but humbling experience,” Johnson said. “I want to show that I am living proof for all the boys and girls who would never dream or think it is possible to become a doctor because of their situation, ethnicity, lack of resources or health. Guess what? There is hope.”

Dr. Autumn King wanted to earn her DSW to expand her knowledge of serving communities. She created the National Fatherhood League, a nonprofit aimed at increasing father involvement in the Black American community.

Because of the program, she was promoted at her foster care employment agency and is also an adjunct professor at CBU.

“The DSW program has developed my leadership, management and community engagement skills,” King said. “It has also prepared me to see others from the eyes of the Lord.”

Along with her DSW, Dr. Teresa Serrano also earned her bachelor’s and master’s at CBU. She is CEO of Hope Wellness Counseling Inc. in Riverside.

“The DSW program has eliminated self-doubt and given me the mindset to want more advancement in my career to lead others. It also has given me the skills to advance in my own group practice,” Serrano said. “As a first generation, former teen mother and woman of color, it is an honor to receive a doctor title by CBU.”

The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences is thrilled to celebrate the inaugural graduation of Doctor of Social Work students, said Dr. Jacqueline Gustafson, dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. 

“This applied program is designed to develop leaders as change agents within the field of social work,” Gustafson said. “Those students who are graduating will impact our local, national and global communities in meaningful ways—bettering the lives of children, families and systems.”

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