skip to main content

GSS Student Lives a Life of Service— in the Classroom and Out

Yoanny Lora traveled this past spring to the Dominican Republic, where she conducted research on undocumented immigrants’ access to health care.  Photo by Gina Vergel

Yoanny Lora traveled this past spring to the Dominican Republic, where she conducted research on undocumented immigrants’ access to health care.
Photo by Gina Vergel

A look at Yoanny Lora’s schedule might make you dizzy.

The 25-year-old, who will earn a master’s in social work on May 21 from Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service (GSS), spends Mondays and Wednesdays as a therapist at a New York City mental health clinic.

On Tuesdays, she has classes from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Thursdays, she interns for the International Federation of Social Workers at the United Nations.

On Fridays, she fulfills her duties as a graduate assistant for Elaine Congress, D.S.W., professor and associate dean for continuing education at Fordham. If that isn’t enough, she works part time on weekends at a family service agency in Lower Manhattan.

“I love it,” said the energetic Lora. “The thing with me is, I see myself doing so many different things.”

That includes helping to edit the International/Global Service newsletter for GSS and serving as event coordinator for the Global Social Work Student Association.

Lora, a GSS standout with an infectious smile, has a bachelor’s degree in history and once dreamed of becoming a history teacher. That changed after she spent a year as a substitute teacher, where she noticed the non-teaching staff members making quite an impact on students.

“I realized the roles of the social worker and the psychiatrist, and I became attracted to the counseling field,” she said. “I knew that with an MSW, I would have more career options. I came to Fordham because of its global service specialization.”

The daughter of Dominican parents, Lora enjoys working with immigrants and refugees. This past spring, she traveled to the Dominican Republic for a 10-day study tour with her “International Social Development” class.

“We lived among the people, which is the best for interviewing research subjects,” said Lora, who spoke at the New York Academy of Medicine’s student night in mid-April. She explained her research in “Undocumented Immigrants’ Access to Health Care in the Dominican Republic and the United States.”

As part of her field work requirement, she works at the William Ryan Mental Health Clinic. There, she conducts psychotherapy, talk therapy and group therapy, as well as phone screenings and crisis intervention.

“They literally have me doing everything,” she said. “I work with patients from ages 9 to 79, so I’m given a wide range of experience.”

At her part-time job at Comprehensive Family Services, an agency that works within the family court system, Lora conducts supervised visits, transfers and exchanges in divorce cases with custody battles. “ I didn’t think I’d enjoy working with the law so much, but I love it,” she said.

From her wide range of experience and host of interests, Lora is choosing to pursue teaching social work at the university level. She would love to teach at Fordham, and will begin doctoral classes this fall.

“I’m really comfortable in the school setting, and what I really like about Fordham is that it’s mostly about service work and human rights,” Lora said. “That’s why it’s the School of Social Service and not School of Social Work. The service sticks out, and I want to be a part of that.”


Comments are closed.