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A Champion for Change: STC Instructor Celebrates 51-Year Social Work Legacy 

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Trailblazing through the face of adversity Noel A. Ysasi has dedicated half a century to the social work profession as a Social Work Practitioner and South Texas College Instructor, earning him a national Lifetime Achievement Award. STC Image
Trailblazing through the face of adversity Noel A. Ysasi has dedicated half a century to the social work profession as a Social Work Practitioner and South Texas College Instructor, earning him a national Lifetime Achievement Award. STC Image
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By Sara Reyna

Trailblazing through the face of adversity Noel A. Ysasi has dedicated half a century to the social work profession as a Social Work Practitioner and South Texas College Instructor, earning him a national Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Ysasi was recognized by the National Association of Social Workers – Lower Rio Grande Valley Branch (NASW-LRGV) for his commitment and contributions in and beyond the profession, honoring his 51-year impact in serving the Rio Grande Valley (RGV). 

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Studying at the University of Texas Pan American (UTPA) and University of Texas at Arlington, Ysasi realized his dream of becoming a licensed-master social worker in 1985, kickstarting a passionate 30-year career in social services. Ysasi has played a pivotal role in serving the South Texas community by practicing in the public, private and non-profit sectors as a practitioner for adults and adolescents. Ysasi expressed that this honor has prompted him to reflect on the journey he’s endured to make it to this moment.

“Looking at where my career started in 1972, I’ve realized my passion to serve people has never wavered,” he said. “This award holds a significant meaning to me because it was not an easy feat especially after my eyesight gradually declined in the early 2000’s. That was a very challenging time in my life, but I knew that I wanted to keep making a difference in my community even if it meant having to work twice as hard at anything I do.”

Ysasi expressed that it was those 30 years in the field and his wife’s endless support that helped him become the beloved educator he is today for the South Texas College Mid-Valley campus. 

“I owe a lot to my wife, she’s been selflessly supporting me and immensely helped my transition to becoming one of the only social work instructors at STC’s Mid-Valley campus,” Ysasi said. “I believe that my demonstrated years of diverse experience have also made me a strong force in the classroom. Despite having to work through various barriers due to being visually impaired, I keep pushing past the adversities for my students because I know how important it is to build a strong foundation for our future social workers.”

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Mayra Reyes, licensed clinical social worker and NASW-LRGV steering member, emphasized that Ysasi fit the mold of an exemplary social work professional for his courageous leadership, dedication and impact to the community making him the perfect nominee for the award. 

“Noel A. Ysasi is a cherished NASW member and professional in our network who has worked so hard behind the scenes to make a difference,” Reyes expressed. “It is our pleasure to honor Ysasi as it was the perfect time to recognize an individual who stays out of the spotlight, but has left an evident mark on the profession and moreover on his students here at STC.” 

Reyes, who is also an educator, explained that it is active and caring teachers like Ysasi that help foster a new era of future social workers, ultimately molding dedicated and successful professionals. 

“His students have personally told me how Ysasi has shaped their outlook on how to be dedicated and successful social workers,” Reyes explained. “Considering that social work as a career can be hard and many times overlooked, it is moments like these where we can come together to collaborate with STC and celebrate the change we are spearheading in our region, and it starts with trailblazers like Noel A. Ysasi who go above and beyond helping us ignite the way.”

April Duran, STC social work student and club president, described the impact Ysasi has had on reshaping students’ approach to the profession, empowering them to thrive academically and professionally.

“Ysasi is not just a teacher, he is truly a mentor,” Duran expressed. “He serves as a pilar of inspiration to his students ensuring that we believe there is no accomplishment or achievement that is out of our reach. His genuine love and passion for the profession pours onto his students leaving us empowered to push through our challenges and meet our goals of becoming strong and successful social workers. Simply put, having a mentor like Ysasi is a blessing in any STC student’s life.”

Ysasi remains active in his role as an instructor and social work club advisor, providing students in the organization opportunities to network closely with community organizations like Hidalgo County Office of the District Attorney’s Victims Unit. 

“If I didn’t have diverse and dynamic experiences and challenges in my career, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said. “Providing my students with an engaging academic experience and laying down that strong foundation will ensure they are stellar social workers, a title that I carry with much pride. I get sentimental thinking about how my legacy continues with my family, my students and my passion. When my students call me to share where their careers have taken off or when they finish graduate school, that is truly an honor and makes receiving this lifetime achievement award a full circle moment.”

For more information about STC’s social work program visit, https://www.southtexascollege.edu/academics/social-work/

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