B.S. Criminal Justice
Pursuing Master of Social Work, Boston University (online)
Case Manager, Alliance for Positive Health, Schenectady
Hometown: Brooklyn (Currently Lives in Albany)
Like many young Hispanic women, Jesenia Rios-Gibson grew up with parents who were extremely protective of her. But they also were adamant that she go away to college. So at first, being in Albany three hours and a world away from her Brooklyn home required an adjustment. But it was at Saint Rose that Jesenia grew to feel proud of her identity, confident of her ability and motivated by her academics. She also developed a passion for criminal justice, thanks to supportive professors who made her courses vivid and compelling. “Saint Rose provided me with a great education and resources for post-graduation,” she says. “And it challenged me in many ways, not just academically.”
After college, Jesenia had planned to become a parole officer. But, to qualify required experience in social work. So she got a job at a foster care and adoption agency. The experience convinced Jesenia that she wanted to become a social worker. Now, she is pursuing an MSW degree from Boston University as she works in the field, helping individuals with AIDS and other chronic illnesses navigate the system of care. Many of them, like Jesenia, grew up in Spanish-speaking households.
“As a case manager, I advocate for many of my clients and translate for them,” she explained. “There is a language barrier for many of them, and I try to educate the providers to use their resources to break those barriers. A lot of doctors don’t like to use the resources, and I want to make sure my clients don’t fall through the cracks.”