Q&A with MSW Community Practice Intern of the Year: Geneece Goertzen

June 13, 2022

1. Tell us a little about yourself including where you are from?

I grew up in northern San Diego county, but have been in Texas for 17 years. Most of my time is spent studying but I do enjoy quilting, costuming, and a few spectator sports in my spare time. My favorite season is autumn, and my favorite place is the beach.

2. When did you begin classes at Baylor and why did you choose Baylor social work?

I started graduate school at Baylor in the fall of 2018 at Truett Seminary. I knew I wanted to do a dual degree program, and social work was the perfect fit. I put a lot of significance on the social work core values (service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, competence) because for me these values are the gospel lived out in practice. Additionally, the Garland School emphasizes the ethical integration of faith and practice, and that is exactly how I believe I am called to live out my life, so I have been especially thankful to be able to study and apply that here at GSSW.

3. Why did you choose social work? Would you say social work is your “calling”?

I believe that my calling is domestic violence advocacy and I believe that social work is an integral part of that calling. As a survivor of more than two decades of abuse, I have a personal connection that fuels my passion for this work and drives my desire to see that others don’t experience what I did. What I have learned in social work here at GSSW has provided the professional tools to be able to do that advocacy work well. I am thankful for the encouragement of my GSSW professors who have believed in me and my calling to this particular ministry.

4. Do you have a concentration/specialization?

I am in the Community Practice cohort and am doing a custom concentration in Domestic Violence.

5. Are you involved in any organizations at Baylor?

I am in the Phi Alpha honors society, and I am one of the student leaders for the Truett Women in Ministry group.

6. What are you passionate about. Do you have any populations you enjoy working with or would like to?

I am passionate about domestic violence advocacy and desire to work with populations affected by domestic violence. In conjunction with the fact that I am also getting the MDiv from Truett Seminary, I have a particular interest in how the church responds to domestic violence, what clergy are doing to educate themselves, and how the church can be better equipped to respond faithfully to survivors of abuse. GSSW’s commitment to the ethical integration of faith and practice was a big part of my continued desire to work in the area of my passion.

7. Tell us about your internships and what you have enjoyed about them or learned from them.

In my foundation year, I was the social work intern at Calvary Baptist Church. That was such a formative position, and it enlarged my passion for working with marginalized populations in general. It also provided a strong foundation for social work practice.

This year I am an intern with the Center for Church and Community Impact and am focusing on churches and domestic violence. There is a great need for work in this area, as most survivors desire that their faith communities be more supportive of them through the difficulties they face both in the abuse, and in trying to be free of that abuse. Clergy and congregations need education and awareness in the area of domestic violence, and in how to support survivors in their congregations. I have been able to design and implement a mixed-methods research project during this internship, looking at these topics and how the church responds to abuse. I hope to be part of the narrative for change.

8. What does this award mean to you?

This award means so incredibly much! As a non-traditional student who has come back to school later in life, and after being sidelined by domestic violence for so long, I really appreciate the ability to fully live into my love of higher education and reach my dreams of graduate degrees. I am honored to have been chosen for this award.

9. What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to rest and engage in some much-needed self-care while doing some writing and looking for that perfect domestic violence advocacy position that will fulfill my desire to make a difference in the lives of survivors. I also hope to go on for PhD and continue to focus on research on this topic of study.

10. Do you have advice for those coming after you?

Don’t forget self-care! It is so easy to get caught up in the enormity of all we have to do as part of the social work program. Self-care is a vital piece of life balance that must be implemented, and you will be stronger for doing so.

What others had to say about Geneece:
Geneece is an advanced standing community practice intern with the C3I specializing in generating advocacy and awareness surrounding the reality of domestic violence in congregations. Geneece excels in organization when it comes to balancing classwork and project deadlines for her agency. Geneece has taken initiative throughout this academic year to network in the community and find opportunities to partner with the Family Abuse Center’s outreach community to deliver educational training to congregations. In addition, she has given presentations about boundaries, healthy relationships, domestic violence awareness and advocacy to Truett Seminary classes, McLennan Community College, a number of congregations in C3I’s network, including a networking group for youth ministers and several online webinars. She conducted an IRB-approved research survey with a national sample of congregations regarding the training pastors/clergy received about domestic violence. She has begun the process of working with Baylor research center to analyze the data and begin writing. She has written numerous public media articles as a form of advocacy and advancing human rights to raise awareness about the realities victims of domestic violence face. Geneece is a natural leader and an excellent team member. Her classmates listen to her and heed her advice and wisdom. Her C3I team does as well. As research assistant for C3i and then intern, Geneece functions like a colleague and full team member. She is an avid learner, willing to go the extra mile for her own learning and for the betterment of the client population she is advocating for. Geneece has expanded her agency’s network in the developing area of engaging congregations in the work of awareness and advocacy in domestic violence.