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Fellowship Supports Future Social Worker’s Goal to Serve the Underserved

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Andy Le, a student in Cal State Fullerton’s master of social work program, is following his passion to help the underserved/minority population.

Le’s journey toward becoming a social worker began as an undergraduate at UCI. The 2014 commencement speaker was President Barack Obama.

Obama’s speech prompted Le to spend the next three years of his life in service ranging from a transitional social worker to student affairs. Through that experience, the idea of serving others, especially minority and underserved communities.

“Social work was the answer and it took me full circle in service to the communities I’ve been around in my youth, as a student and as a professional,” explained the son of Vietnamese American immigrants.

When he was applying for a master’s program, professional peers suggested Cal State Fullerton. It is a decision he has never regretted. “Working with faculty in the classroom and conducting research, as well as taking part in lots of hands-on experiences, have helped enhance my education.”

One of his first experiences was serving as a workshop facilitator for this year’s Social Justice Summit on the Southeast Asian American experience. Le says it was an opportunity to give back and to share his story of intergenerational trauma and as a first-generation college student.

As part of the CSUF master of social work program, Le currently interns at a Kaiser Permanente facility. “I see education like a buffet and I just want to make sure to take every opportunity to expand and make the most of it.”

To assist him in pursuing his career goals, Le was recently awarded a fellowship from the Council on Social Work Education’s Minority Fellowship Program. The fellowships were established with the goal of improving the health outcomes of underrepresented and underserved populations by training mental health professionals from similar ethnic groups. 

“There definitely have been gaps within the mental health field when it comes to serving the underserved/underrepresented population,” noted Le. “There are not enough professionals with similar cultural backgrounds to serve these groups’ needs.”

The one-year fellowship provides a stipend, professional development opportunities and training, including a March 2019 program in Alexandria, Virginia.

“The fellowship has had a great impact on my life and is helping me meet my career goals,” said Le. His future goals are to return to his hometown of Sacramento and be a mental health practitioner in a hospital setting, then develop his own private practice to work with athletes, especially those in high school.