How Pop Culture Ignited a Career in Social Work


Bachelor of Social Work student Alondra Ortega speaks about how her personal values to help children integrate with her career aspirations.

Alondra Oregta

May 2022 Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) graduate Alondra Ortega’s motivation to pursue a career as a social worker was ignited after watching an episode of the popular crime fiction television show Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Ortega has always been aware of her desire to aid vulnerable populations and the depiction of an overwhelmed child welfare system solidified her decision to enter the field.

“The episode touched on the reality of burnout among child welfare workers and emphasized the need for workers who are committed to making a change and helping children in need,” Ortega said. “The message of that episode resonated deeply with me.”

Ortega’s drive to help underserved communities has allowed her to collaborate with others who share her commitment.

No Stranger to Advocacy

Ortega is an active member of Corazones Unidos Siempre Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority, Inc., an organization that is devoted to improving the unique obstacles minority women in our communities face and to working toward the betterment of all women. In partnership with FACETS, a Fairfax County non-profit dedicated to ending poverty, Chi Upsilon Sigma created care packages and hosted a feminine hygiene drive. At the institution where she was previously an intern, Ortega also created a diversity, equity, and inclusion team to encourage cultural competency.

“I enjoy giving back to the community because I believe it is important to take care of the community that shaped us as individuals whether that be organizing a donation drive, doing a small clean up with my family, or advocating for a social justice issue,” said Ortega.

Ortega models how Mason’s BSW prepares future social work professionals to be leaders in their field by providing a range of opportunities to develop broad knowledge and skills. Because of her efforts, Ortega recently won the BSW Advocacy Award.

“I am dedicated to being an influential member of society by supporting and advocating on behalf of those who make up the future of our communities, children. I am honored to have been recognized, among other talented students, by the faculty and staff of the BSW program,” Ortega said.

For her practicum, Ortega worked as a Family Services Specialist Intern at a local department of social services where she assisted in foster care cases, home visits, family assessments, documentation, client referrals, interpretation, and translation. After graduating she plans to continue working at her practicum placement full-time as a Family Services Specialist.

“Children are perhaps the most innocent beings in this life, and it is our duty to protect that innocence and promote their well-being. I am committed to working toward the betterment of the social conditions that increase the risk of child abuse and neglect,” said Ortega.