Social Work holds in-person commencement at Globe Life Field

Thursday, May 20, 2021

By Valerie Fields Hill 

School of Social Work


Dr. Woody & Spring 2021 MSW Graduate                         
Dr. Woody & Spring 2021 MSW Graduate           


Nearly 200 students earned Social Work degrees during an in-person commencement ceremony May 14 at Globe Life Field.


The 186 Social Work graduates included Sarah Rae Leat and Kelli Renee Rogers, both of whom earned doctorate degrees; 71 students who earned Master of Social Work degrees; and 113 scholars who earned bachelor’s degrees.


The ceremony included students finishing their studies this semester and students who completed their studies in 2020 but were unable to participate in an in-person ceremony.


The University suspended large gatherings in 2020 due to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week was the first time the more than 600 Social Work graduates who finished in 2020 could participate in an in-person ceremony.


Spring 2021 PhD Graduate

Spring 2021 PhD Graduate


The two Social Work doctoral graduates for Spring 2021 – Leat and Rogers – each are expected to begin employment soon in tenure-track positions at universities outside of Texas, school officials said. 


Rogers was recently selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of the Doctoral Student Policy Forum. The forum is sponsored by the Council on Social Work Education’s Society for Social Work and Research and the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Student Policy.


The forum will be held virtually June 16-18. It will include educational sessions and Capitol Hill visits. The goal is to strengthen the connection between research and policy. Rogers recently received funding from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities for her research.


Leat received a $15,000 research grant from NITC to fund her dissertation research. Both Leat and Rogers authored several research journal articles during their time in the doctoral program.


CAPPA DSS Honor Student

CAPPA DSS Honor Student


“We congratulate Drs. Leat and Rogers on the work that they have done in the doctoral program at UTA and wish them all the best as they embark on their careers in academia,” said Dr. Keith A. Anderson, director of the doctoral program, regarding the two graduates.


Commencement ceremonies began at 9 a.m. Friday and included the colleges of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs, and the Division of Student Success Honors College along with the School of Social Work. Commencement speaker was Maria Martinez-Cosio, dean of the UTA College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs.


Interim UTA president Dr. Teik Lim said the university’s graduates had endured historic circumstances to gain the chance of walking across the stage.


“Our Maverick graduates have continued to thrive and adapt during challenging circumstances and deserve this celebration of their accomplishments,” Dr. Lim said.


“As they enter the workforce or achieve new credentials to advance their careers, employers will come to realize that our graduates are a cut above because of their ability to persevere and remain focused on their goals. I am so proud to join with their families and guests in helping them mark this special milestone in their lives.”


The May 14 ceremony was one of eight in-person commencement exercises the University of Texas at Arlington held throughout the weekend to confer degrees on students in nursing, engineering, business, communications and other disciplines. UTA’s various ceremonies began Thursday, May 13, and continued through Saturday,  May 15. 


Click the following link to watch the video of the May 14 UTA School of Social Work in-person commencement ceremony:


Earlier this month, on May 4, the School of Social Work honored Spring 2021 graduates and other scholars for their academic accomplishments during a virtual Celebration of Excellence. Among other achievements, the School of Social Work recognized those graduating students who earned perfect 4.0 grade point averages.


“Each of you represent the best of our School and you have learned and demonstrated the necessary skills to make a difference, and our world needs you as addiction counselors and as advocates for the aging, youths and teens and those living with disabilities,” Social Work Dean Dr. Scott Ryan said in a prepared statement before the event. 


He urged the graduates and other students to “bravely take on the many social justice issues that our state and country faces – and do so with conviction and integrity.”


Click the following link to view the Spring 2021 Celebration of Excellence program booklet:


Click this link to watch the Spring 2021 Celebration of Excellence virtual event: