SSW graduates 216

Wednesday, May 22, 2024 • Jaelon Jackson :

By Jaelon Jackson
School of Social Work

Makita Johnson
Makita Johnson, MSW graduate


The University of Texas at Arlington's School of Social Work held its Spring Commencement Ceremony Friday, May 10, celebrating the achievements of one Ph.D., 129 master’s, and 86 bachelor’s students.

The ceremony, held at Globe Life Field in Arlington, highlighted the dedication and hard work of these students. 

The graduates stepped into the next chapter of their lives equipped with the knowledge and skills gained from the Bachelor of Science in Substance Use and Treatment, Bachelor of Social Work, Master of Social Work, and Ph.D. in Social Work programs.

Dr. Christine Highfill, the sole social work doctoral graduate for this semester, represented the pinnacle of academic achievement in the field. 

She was recognized for her significant contributions to social work research and scholarship, and her dedication to advancing knowledge in the field was applauded. 

Reflecting on her journey, Dr. Highfill describes what it feels like to be a Ph.D. graduate.

"I think you stand a little bit taller. The change in name reflects the change in identity that I've experienced over the past five years in the program," Highfill said.

The School of Social Work at UTA takes pride in preparing graduates for careers promoting social justice, community development, and individual well-being. The diverse array of programs offered, from undergraduate to doctoral levels, ensure students receive a comprehensive education, equipping them to address the complex challenges of contemporary society.

The ceremony concluded with a triumphant procession of graduates, symbolizing the collective achievements of the School of Social Work community.

Master of Social Work graduate Makita Johnson described graduation as an emotional experience filled with moments of joy. 

"It was seeing the fruits of my labor come to fruition - from taking night and weekend classes over the past 13 years to earn my Associate’s, to scheduling classes around my family and work obligations to earn my Bachelor's, and then spending long nights glued to the computer to earn my Master's," Johnson said.

Johnson added graduating meant fulfilling a promise to herself and setting an example for her children about determination and hard work.

Dr. Regina Praetorius noted Johnson joined the MSW program after earning a Bachelor of Social Work at St. Edward’s University in Austin.  Praetorius said Johnson has successfully integrated her tech and organizational skills into her social work practice.

"She has been the lead GSL (Graduate Student Leader) intern in both fall and spring and has helped build great infrastructure for moving forward," Praetorius said.

The ceremony concluded with a triumphant procession of graduates, symbolizing the collective achievements of the School of Social Work community.

To look at photos from the commencement ceremony click here: Facebook

To watch the Spring 2024 Commencement, click here: