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Commencement completes full-circle journey for social work grad

May 16, 2013 9:00 AM

Joseph Halm

When His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama gives the keynote address at the Tulane University Unified Commencement Ceremony on Saturday (May 18), master of social work graduate Katie Templet will hear him speak with distinct understanding. She is one of seven master of social work part-time students who took part in the monthlong, in-country course that examines the cultural and contextual issues of Tibetan refugees in North India.


Katie Templet

Katie Templet, who is a candidate for a master of social work degree, says her immersion in the culture of Tibetan refugees in North India has prepared her to communicate with clients despite language barriers. (Photo by Joseph Halm)

Students learn about the best social work practices and grow personally through their interaction with the wisdom of the Tibetan people. They integrate this into what they have been learning at the Tulane School of Social Work, says Ron Marks, dean of the school, who created the program 12 years ago.

“I would consider India my first ‘hands-on’ experience in cultural sensitivity,” says Templet, of Pierre Part, La. “Most people never get to practice their skills by being completely immersed in another culture.”

Templet said while previous India classes have met the Dalai Lama, her class did not — which makes commencement that much more special considering how much of an effect the India trip had on her current practice as a case manager at Healthy Start–New Orleans.

“My clients come from all types of cultures, and I even have a few with English as their second language,” she says. “My experience in India prepared me for working with that population and finding ways to communicate despite a language barrier.

“On top of that, I actually like what I do because I get to play with kids all day. I figured out that I wanted to do child protection, and then figured out it was social work.”

Joseph Halm is marketing/communications coordinator for the Tulane School of Social Work.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu