Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Daniella Acosta, BS ’24, and Kasey Jimenez, MSW ’24

A woman, wearing a maroon dress, stands with her arms crossed in front of her chest. Behind her are several large concrete planters filled with flowers and plants..

During Hispanic Heritage Month 2023, we’re spotlighting NYU Silver Latinx Social Work Student Organization (LSWSO) co-Presidents Daniella Acosta, BS ’24, and Kasey Jimenez, MSW ’24. Along with Vice President Estrellita Mondragon and First Year Representative Alan Elias, Daniella and Kasey, lead the organization, which for over a decade has provided support and guidance to NYU Silver’s Latinx students and helped the wider school community deepen their understanding of health and social welfare issues facing the Latinx community. 

Stepping Into Leadership

While there have previously been BS students on LSWSO’s executive board, Daniella is the first undergraduate to serve as a co-President. She has been an active member since her sophomore year and is excited to step into leadership as a senior. “There are a lot of Latino undergraduates who thought the organization was just for master’s students so I’m glad to be able to help build the bridge between both.” In addition to hosting social events that create an affinity space for Latinx students, Daniella looks forward to coordinating career development programming and perhaps even a mentorship program with the MSW and BS students. 

Daniella, who is a Mexican-American from San Jose, CA, said she chose to move cross country to attend NYU in part to broaden her experiences. Originally she enrolled in Liberal Studies and planned to major in political science, however, she realized it wasn’t right for her. “I wanted more of a social justice lens on policy. I had taken a course at Silver my first year called Radical Insight: Global Social Justice and Nonviolent Peacemaking and that was my first intro to social work. Then I started looking into the profession more and it was just such a broad field that you could do so much with. I love social work and Silver. It’s everything I ever wanted!”

Among Daniella’s other favorite classes at Silver have been Skills in Interpersonal Communication with Adjunct Assistant Professor Pia Raymond and Lobbying, Legislation, and Social Action with Adjunct Lecturer Tasha Young. For her practicum this year, she is an intern at NYU Silver’s Adaptive Leadership in Human Services Institute, doing macro social work, which she particularly enjoys. “I feel like we need more Latinx social workers in policy positions as well as Latinx social workers in general,” she said. “I want to take my identity and my learnings from Silver and apply them to my work.”

Building Connections

Kasey, who is Dominican and Peruvian, earned her BS from Silver last spring after having transferred to NYU midway through her junior year. Because she was so busy getting acclimated to NYU and earning the credits she needed to graduate, she didn’t have time to get involved in LSWSO. She is now in Silver’s one-year Advanced Standing MSW pathway. “Since I knew that this would be my last year at Silver,” she said, “I really wanted to get involved. Right after LSWSO put out a call for new leaders last spring, I emailed to say I was interested.”

Like Daniella, one of Kasey’s main goals for the organization this year is to have undergraduates and graduate students come together. “It’s so important to have a space for us to build those connections that last,” she said. 

Kasey is particularly interested in medical social work and is doing her practicum placement this year at NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn as a social work intern for hemodialysis patients. She is excited about gaining direct one-on-one clinical experience serving a diverse group of adults who represent the spectrum of Brooklyn and New York City residents. As an undergraduate, she noted, she did her practicum placement at Trinity Church Wall Street’s Compassion Meals program, which was less clinically oriented.

After she earns her MSW this coming May, Kasey hopes to work in her home community of Sunset Park. “We have a huge Latinx community here and it is under-resourced. I would love to have a part in serving it, whether that’s in medical social work or some other aspect of the profession.”

Thinking about Hispanic Heritage Month and the role of Latinx social workers, Kasey emphasized their collective power. “We need to stay together; we’re stronger together.”