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Generations Strong: Mother and Daughter, Angela Maria Arney and Holly Davies, Reflect on their Education and Experience at the GCSW

holly_angela_mom_daughterPictured Left, Angela Maria Arney (MSW '89) and Right, Her Daughter and GCSW MSW Student Holly Davies 


March 31, 2020

(HOUSTON, TX) - The official theme for Social Work Month 2020 was "Social Workers: Generations Strong."

Every day throughout March 2020, we aimed to highlight the critical generational contributions social workers and social work students have made to the profession through research, teaching, community outreach efforts, and beyond.

In keeping in line with the theme, we recently spoke with Alumni Angela Maria Arney (MSW '89) and her daughter Holly Davies who is expected to graduate from the GCSW with her MSW this coming August 2020. In this Q&A, Angela Maria Arney and Holly Davies share how their time at the GCSW has shaped their views on the profession. The shared passion they have for social work is the embodiment of the theme "Generations Stong."  


Name: Holly Davies 

Preferred Pronouns: She/Her  

Program and Expected Graduation Year: MSW 2020 August 

  • What made you decide to attend the GCSW? I wanted to attend a rigorous MSW program that would equip me well in both academic and practical skills. 
  • What is the most memorable moment from your time at the GCSW? From Harvey and Ice storms to COVID-19 our Hybrid Main Cohort '17 has become like a true family.  It's great to have such a supportive group of friends and colleagues walking the social work path together.  My colleagues generosity is legendary and we have so many fond memories together. 
  • Who is someone whose work you admired while you attended the GCSW and why? I really enjoyed the Trauma Fellow summer intensive with Prof. Amtsberg and Dr. Taylor. Their passion in meeting trauma with understanding, evidence-based tools and compassion is wonderful to behold. 
  • What do you currently do for work? Currently, I am finishing my field placement remotely and looking forward to graduation in August 2020. 
  • How has your education at the GCSW equipped you to go into your respected field of work?  I think one of the benefits of the GCSW is not only the academic and practical skills it teaches but the extensive alumni network.  I am so lucky that those who have gone before reach out and help those of us just entering the field find our own niche and passion in Houston. 
  • What feelings did you have knowing that you would attend the same College as your Mother?  I was so excited!  I remember my mother going through the program when I was in high school, and we had many dinnertime discussions about social justice, equality and the life of a social worker.  It was really helpful to have a sounding board when I had questions - and one day, I hope to be the excellent social worker that my Mother is - I'm so proud of the work she has accomplished, quietly and behind the scenes helping people changing their lives. 

Name: Angela Maria Arney 

Program and Graduation Year: MSW 1989 

  • What made you decide to attend the GCSW? In July 1986 just having graduated with my BA in Psychology and Education in London my family moved to Houston for my husband's work. I had to let go of my postgraduate course in London and decided that even though my spousal visa did not let me work I could volunteer, and did so in September 1986 at the Family Service Center in Houston. In April/May 1987 a few of the volunteer supervisors told me I was good at the work and, that if I wanted to do it professionally I would need a Master's Degree in Social Work. I asked where you do that in Houston, and they said Texas Southern University or the Graduate School of Social Work University of Houston Main Campus. I phoned Texas Southern University and they asked me for my GRE, which they said I would need to apply. Being educated in England I had no GRE, and multi-choice exams were unknown in Britain at that time. I called the Graduate School of Social Work and my first question was: "Do I need a GRE?" They said no, and I asked how to apply. They said it was late in the year but to apply anyway. Mid-July I am on vacation in England with the children and my husband calls me from the US and says: "Guess what I am doing next Friday?" He says he is going to the Graduate School of Social Work to register you for your courses. I have never regretted changing my focus from education to social work, nor has my contact with education ceased since I often attend ARD's and 504 school meetings for clients, from elementary through high school and university. 
  • What is the most memorable moment from your time at the GCSW? My classes with Mary Lewis, who I chose to be my thesis mentor, as we developed variables I felt that were so multiple that nothing was going to come of the study. I asked Mary: "If the statistics don't work out will I still get a good grade?" and she said: "As long as you defend it well, yes." The time came to run the statistics, I am sitting there thinking this is going to be a major disaster. The statistics go to Mary. A smile on her face: "Guess what, Angela, they were successful." They were also in line with the new national statistics researching which deaths had the most psychological impact on people: the deaths of children and siblings. My figures had come from Houston Hospice, my first placement. Both Mary and I were delighted.
  • Who is someone whose work you admired while you were attending GCSW and why? Living in Marin County for three years in the mid-1970s, we attended a talk by Erik Erikson at our church in Belvedere on his Stages of Psychological Development and enjoyed his company afterward. The importance and significance of his theory became evident in the HBSE course taught by Susan Robbins who is still at the GCSE and has continued to prove extremely useful in my work to the present day.
  • What do you currently do for work? A licensed clinical social worker in my own independent practice in the State of Texas, my current practice includes people from age range 3 through 86. I work with people of all ages, individual counseling with children, teens, adults as well as relationship and family counseling. I serve Medicare, Medicaid, and major insurance groups and work with the Military and Employee Assistance Counselling. 
  • How has your education at the GCSW equipped you to go into your respected field of work? When I was trained at GCSW between 1987 and 1989 the only specialties offered were macro or micro social work. The broad focus offered in the microprogram prepared me to take the broad focus that I take presently, and also to specialize within all groups including all minorities. 
  • How did you respond when you found out your Daughter would be attending the GCSW? Holly, like me, had started out as a volunteer in macro social work. My first volunteerism was in London organizing the 93 schools in or education district into the Merton Parent's Association, to prevent the major cuts proposed for education by the Thatcher government in the early 1980s, and meeting with the then education minister (Sir Keith Joseph) to present our case. We were successful in maintaining many services. Holly's social work macro venture was organizing volunteerism around the regular flooding of the Braes Bayou area, for which she was recognized by mayor Anise Parker. When she said she was going to the Graduate School of Social Work I realized that she like me preferred the one on one or small group work, and hope that her career will prove to be as personally fulfilling as mine.