Social Issues/Social Action

Jessica Guzman-Rea is an academic advisor in the UMBC Honors College and adjunct faculty for the social work program.

Jessica Guzman-RaeMy Social Work 200 class—Social Issues/Social Action, funded by BreakingGround—focuses on civic engagement in Baltimore City and the surrounding counties in the practice of social work. I partnered with the Shriver Center to connect students with organizations that allowed them to become involved in addressing social issues across levels of influence.

For this post I asked my student Danielle Bouchard ’15, social work, to speak about her work with the Office of Forensic Services. This agency is responsible for court-ordered mental health services and for evaluation and treatment of individuals to determine competency to stand trial or criminal responsibility. Working with this office, Danielle was able to sit in on court cases where social workers play an important role:

JGR: What do you believe are the benefits of what you personally do, or what the agency does, that affects people’s lives?

DB: The agency allows for individuals who have committed a crime, who don’t even understand they’ve committed a crime, a chance to have a route that doesn’t just leave them in prison for the rest of their lives. They can go into a hospital. They can have different rehabilitation services that not only will help them understand their actions, but will help them get better. They’ll provide them with the medication they need and then after they’re done with their time, or their alternative time, like staying in the hospital, they connect them with organizations that help them get re-entry into society.

I was gratified to hear about Danielle’s passion for “making people more accepting of mental illness” in the court system. There are just so many ways to be a social worker; so many ways to use your skills and unique perspective to help the people around you.

Contact the author, Jessica Guzman-Rea, at


  1. […] Guzman-Rea, Social Work). This research examines the impact of a BreakingGround grant-funded semester-long Social Work course, in which students developed ideas relating social issues and connected them with action across […]

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