Meet Anais Tello: 2022 BSW Spirit of Social Work Recipient
What is the spirit of social work? By our definition, it is Anais Tello, the 2022 Alicia Martinez BSW Spirit of Social Work Award recipient.
Anais, who recently graduated from the Garland School of Social Work with her BSW, is someone you would call a true advocate for others who has used her own story to develop a passion for social work and a deep desire to see prison reforms and improve recidivism. As a child, Anais was introduced to social work through her school social worker who would pray daily for Anais’ safety…it was in this space she developed her calling to help others just as this social worker had helped her.
“To escape my grim reality, I devoted myself to my academics and extracurricular activities. I knew that if I worked hard, I would be able to help others, like that social worker helped me,” Anais said. “I will always be grateful to her influence on my experience, as she fueled my passion of contributing to social and economic equity. My experience with violence and poverty also motivated my calling to social work, as I developed a passion for prison reform and recidivism improvements.”
Fast forward to today, and Anais is a first-generation college student, turned graduate, who paid it forward by also serving children through her internship at Communities in Schools at J.H. Hines Elementary School in Waco. While there, she facilitated case management services for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. She actively managed 25 students in their pursuit toward academic, behavioral and social target goals, helping them to create and achieve them.
As a child, Anais was introduced to social work through her school social worker who would pray daily for Anais’ safety…it was in this space she developed her calling to help others just as this social worker had helped her.
“At CIS, I engaged with clients on a micro level through assessments and goal interventions, while also interacting with clients at the mezzo level through facilitation of Social Emotional Learning groups and family outreach services,” Anais said. “We surrounded students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.”
As Anais has been helping other students to succeed in the classroom and in life, she also has worked on the same thing for herself, and at times, it has been a struggle.
“[Since beginning college], I experienced impostor syndrome. I often felt I did not deserve my successes, and when I was successful, I felt I could have done better. I also believed I wasn't smart enough, which caused anxiety that negatively affected my personal and academic life,” Anais said. “That’s when I decided to confront my feelings of inadequacy because my grades were being affected. Although I was worried about not measuring up, I was more worried of wasting an opportunity. Rather than thinking ‘I'm not smart enough for this class’, I shifted my thoughts to ‘I'm learning and figuring things out as best as I can.’ This shift in perspective positively changed my mental health, which allowed me to gain the confidence needed to overcome my feelings of being an impostor.”
And overcome, she did! While at Baylor, Anais was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the Phi Alpha Honor Society and was a facilitator for the Leave Your Mark program in the Multicultural Affairs Office. This fall she will pursue her MSW at the University of Michigan as an advanced standing MSW student and National Community Scholar, with a Community Change pathway. She is expected to graduate next summer.
In recommending Anais for this award, one of her professors said, “Anais’ work ethic is unmatched. The pathway that's led Anais to this work and her embodiment of her vocational commitment and calling remind me of Alicia Martinez. I believe it would honor who I knew Alicia to be as a social work student for Anais to receive this award.”
When asked what advice she would give those coming behind her, Anais said, “I recommend that upcoming students set high personal and academic standards for themselves and live up to them. You must believe in yourself and realize that school is an investment.”
Anais, your alma mater is proud of you, the work you have done and the work you will continue to do as you live into your social work practice. #sicem, Anais!