Ryan Shook models mentorship as he earns his MSW from CSUMBby Jan Janes on Jun 10, 2020
Student Life/Peer Mentor Coordinator Ryan Shook has graduated from California State University Monterey Bay with his Masters in Social Work (MSW).
Ryan Shook, MSW, has walked the walk
he now guides other students through.
He was a toddler in the Child Development Center when his mother pursued her AA degree. He returned to earn his own AA in Liberal Studies, emphasis behavioral organization.
Along the way, Shook broke new ground.
“I was one of two students as volunteer Rambassadors,” he said, about the pilot program that launched in Spring 2012. “Linda Kerr worked hard to recruit good students and find funding.” By fall, with the support of John Pruitt, former VP of Student Services, a little desk in the foyer of the counseling center became the original footprint of the Welcome Center.
As a returning student, he learned about financial aid and available student services. “Gilbert Horta talked about getting tested at AEC and applying to EOPS,” said Shook.
As he explored transfer opportunities, Mari Garcia, counselor in EOPS, pushed him to think beyond the CSU system. “I didn’t think I was good enough to get into UC,” he said, “And I was set on CSUMB.” Convinced, he also applied and was accepted into four UCs and SJSU.
After graduating from Gavilan in 2014, Shook chose UCSC. “Family was a factor,” he said. “They also have the Everett Program that uses digital tools for social innovation.”
Students take a year of courses, learning to write, design, locate funding and implement a grant program in partnership with an existing organization. “I developed an income-generating job training program for the Compassion Center,” said Shook. “It took the classroom learning into the community right away.”
He became an Everett program fellow the following year, working in the classroom to train a new cohort of students. As he completed his final two quarters at UCSC, Shook returned to Gavilan to work in the Learning Commons and sat on the committee at the beginning of the Equity Grant.
“One of the things I remembered from Guidance 1 my second semester at Gav,” he said, “How do you know what position you will work in? It might not have been created yet.”
Shook graduated summa cum laude from UCSC with a BA in Sociology in Spring 2016, and he applied for the newly created Student Life Coordinator position that summer. “It was an open pool process, no guarantees,” he said. “But if I had not sat on the Equity Committee, I might not have seen the HR announcement.”
He was hired for the position in October 2016, handed a key to an office to clean out, at the same time the VP of Student Services was scheduled for vacation. “I used the experience in program and project design from UCSC to imagine the job,” Shook said.
The Peer Mentor program he now guides is a leadership, skills building program that supports student confidence. “It is definitely carried on in the tradition of Linda Kerr and John Pruitt,” said Shook. “Believing in the student until they can believe in themselves.”
As he built the new job and connections across campus, he also turned his attention to applying to the MSW program at CSUMB. “I was set to apply, but concerned about the 960 internship hours,” said Shook. “Kathleen Moberg, VP of Students Services, told me we’d figure out how to make it work.” He enrolled in the three-year program and was able to flex his hours to meet the demands of his job and fulfill internship hours with Discovery Counseling.
During his studies at CSUMB, Shook did coursework into programs that reduce recidivism for inmates after their release. He noted that Gavilan offers classes inside the local jails. “Randy Brown and I were working on the Higher Aspiration Program,” said Shook. “Students return to community college after leaving jail.”
For his culminating project, Shook researched students who experienced criminal justice history, and how universities support them with recommendations and onboarding. Some fields, such as nursing and counseling programs, don’t allow prior offenders to even enter the training because they won’t be able to obtain licensing.
“There isn’t a lot of research in academic work about how institutions are supporting students,” said Shook. “And the licensing agencies look to the universities to be the gatekeepers.”
Shook’s research was timely, as California AB 2138, Fair Chance Occupational Licensing goes into effect July 1, 2020.
After a literature review moved the research further, Shook applied for and received human subject research approval for Opportunities for growth and ethical considerations for Social Work Programs: Engaging students with criminal justice-involvement. It is designed as a mixed method study of current and former BSW, MSW and DSW students from public and private California universities.
In early June, he learned his research was selected for presentation at the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting, which will meet mid-November 2020 in Denver.
Poised to earn his MSW, his graduate faculty advisor nominated Shook for CSUMB's President’s Graduate Award for Exemplary Regional Stewardship, which he received at graduation.
“From great leadership comes great leaders,” said Shook. “This is about the program and the faculty and my fellow students, who allowed me the space to exercise those qualities. I was excited to bring the award home to the MSW program.”
(This is one of three stories about Gavilan College employees who completed university work while working full time at the college.)