Linda Garza Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
Earlier in the spring Linda Garza, Professor of Social Work and Social Work Program Director at TWU, was notified of her selection as a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient by the Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
The award was presented to Prof. Garza last week in a ceremony connected to the TWU Social Science and Education awards.
Garza, a beloved faculty member for many years, began her work at TWU in 1991 when she was hired on as Instructor of Human Services. Through the last 30 years, she has moved up the ranks, becoming Professor of Human Services (and now Professor of Social Work), as well as serving as the Chair of the Behavioral Science Department, and now the Program Director for Social Work, overseeing the start of the program and its accreditation process.
“I am a social worker because of Ms. Garza,” said Gabe Blake, a TWU Social Work graduate who studied under Prof. Garza. “When I think of the word social worker, she is immediately who pops into my head. She lives and breathes the values of our profession. You can look through the entire code of ethics, and she hits each of those nails on the head, she does it all.”
On hand to present the award was Lisa Maguire, a Licensed Advanced Practice Social Worker and representative for the Southeast Tennessee Region of the Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
“Social Work has one of the most extensive codes of ethics and practice,” said Maguire, “so we don’t do any harm to the people we work with. Think of Ms. Garza and all the years she has put into practice, her service to her community, social justice, and the most oppressed people in our community, with dignity and worth.”
Many former students at TWU identify Prof. Garza as a mentor and pivotal player in their educational experience. She has earned numerous awards and honors throughout her career, from student organizations, TWU Administration, Athens City Council, United Way of McMinn Meigs Counties, and the list goes on. She is always quick, however, to send any praise back on her students.
“The great thing about Ms. Garza, everyone feels like they’re her favorite student,” said Blake in her opening remarks at the event. “That’s what she does, she puts her life blood into this work and she believes that teaching is a calling from God, it’s a mission, and she does it all with grace, and love, and care.”
“I have the best job in the whole world,” said Garza in accepting her award, “because I get to work with young people with great hearts, who want to make a difference. It doesn’t get any better than that, and I thank God every day when I come to campus. What a privilege I have to work with these wonderful, outstanding young people, and hopefully make a difference in their lives and the lives of those people they touch.”
“We talk about the ripple effect,” added Blake to the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends at the award ceremony. “Ms. Garza has affected tens of thousands of lives because of the work she does to guide her students. Not only that, but in her spare time, she started a Social Work program here at Tennessee Wesleyan and that longevity is going to impact so many other generations. What we do matters and you can tell that in people like Ms. Garza, who give their all to their profession.”
Tennessee Wesleyan’s Social Work program is full accredited with the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Commission on Accreditation. Upon graduation with a bachelor of social work from TWU, students are prepared for the BSW State Licensure exam in the state where they plan to practice.