National Social Worker Month Spotlight: Kristin Gonzalez
When talking to Kristin Gonzalez about her job, you can’t help but feel as passionate and excited about her work as she does. However, when she thought about returning to the workforce after having kids, she contemplated a career outside social work. Up to that point, her job seemed to be more about paperwork than people. She considered pursuing a couple of her other passions, like going into professional photography or starting a baking business out of her home. Ultimately, she decided to give social work one more try, and she took a job with the Access PROS program in Rhinebeck. That job opened her eyes to an entirely different side of social work.
Kristin started her career in a direct support role at Anderson Center for Autism. She says that experience was a huge help in her current role, providing her with skills she still uses and giving her a unique perspective on clients and helping professionals. She held that job while completing her undergraduate degree, and looking back, she’s not sure how she did it all at once. After getting her bachelor’s degree, she completed a dual master’s program through SUNY New Paltz and Albany, earning degrees in both sociology and social work.
In just three years with Access, Kristin has gone from PROS Therapist to her current role as PROS Team Leader. One of the things she most enjoys about Access is her team: “We celebrate everything!” The opportunities for celebration and creative expression are just a few things that she appreciates about her job.
Today, Kristin gets to incorporate her passions for photography and baking in her PROS work. She’s used her cameras and photographic expertise to do a portrait project with some of her clients. Half of her personal kitchen equipment resides in her workplace, as culinary expression has also proven therapeutic for some clients. Her advice for prospective social workers? “You really need to find your passion or your niche. There are so many possibilities with social work.”