See You in Court - MSW Students Visit Federal District Court
The entering cohort of UTEP Master of Social Work (MSW) students spent the morning of Tuesday the 26th in Court at the Albert Armendariz Sr. United States Federal District Courthouse in El Paso. As part of their initial training, MSW students are introduced to a variety of work settings in which social work graduates are likely to be employed or with which they will interface on behalf of their clients. In their foundational class with Professor Mark Lusk, students were introduced to the criminal justice system at the federal level through community-based learning in which they interacted with federal attorneys and observed live court hearings.
Initially, students witnessed felony plea hearings with Magistrate Judge Leon Schydowler in cases involving the international transport of controlled substances, after which they observed sentencing hearings in the court of United States District Judge Kathleen Cardone. Several individuals were sentenced for drug trafficking and a group of individuals were sentenced for second illegal entry of an undocumented migrant. Students witnessed the exchanges between defense attorneys, defendants, prosecutors and the presiding judge. MSW student Fatima Valles noted, “I learned a lot and was able to see in person things I knew only through class, conversations and the news. It was an eye opener. I really think it is an experience people should have in order to acquire knowledge about court processes and guidelines, and more importantly, to be empathetic.”
The College of Health Sciences is deeply committed to involving students and community-based scholarship and learning by partnering with local governmental and non-governmental organizations. Professor Mark Lusk and other health sciences faculty regularly take students into the community to make the classroom learning material come alive through interactions with agency clients and personnel.
The visit was hosted by United States Assistant Public Defender Alejandro Almanzan, J.D., who explained how the federal court system works.