Online Edition of The Cardinal Times

Giovanna Bocanegra – Social Work

September 9, 2020


Courtesy of Giovanna Bocanegra

Giovanna Bocanegra, pictured here with her husband. Bocanegra is a new social worker at Lincoln this year.

What will you be doing at Lincoln and how will you interact with the students?

I will be one of Lincoln’s school social workers, working alongside Judy Herzberg. My main goal is to support the social-emotional and mental health needs of students so that they can access their education. For some students, this will mean providing direct mental health support, and for others it might be connecting them with community resources to eliminate barriers (food, housing, transportation, etc.). While we’re distance learning I will be able to connect with students and families virtually during my drop-in “office” hours!


What made you want to become a social worker?

I had a mentor growing up who was a social worker, and she introduced me to the profession. I knew going into college that this is what I wanted to do!


What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?  

I really enjoy trying new recipes (it always feels like an experiment), taking my dog to the dog park, thrift store shopping and reading a good novel. Before the pandemic, I also loved traveling. I’ve visited countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.


Where have you previously taught?

I’ve previously been a school social worker in Denver, Colo. and Minneapolis, Minn. I attended graduate school in Denver, and my family lives in Minnesota.


What are some of your favorite things about Portland? Do you have any favorite places you have explored?

I love how unique Portland is. So far, I have enjoyed visiting the Rose Garden, going to waterfalls, hiking in Forest Park, walking to Salt & Straw and shopping at the Portland Farmers Market. In the past, I went to the Japanese Garden and that was also beautiful. I am nervous about my first rainy winter here!


You were part of the Peace Corps. What was that experience like? How has it shaped your life and work?

I joined the Peace Corps right after college and taught English in Indonesia for two years. The Peace Corps was great. It’s such a great way to be immersed in a different culture and learn a new way of life. I got the opportunity to see what schools in Indonesia are like, to try new foods and learn a language. It really showed me that, in the end, we are more alike than we are different. It made me even more appreciative of cultural diversity.


How do you feel about school being online and coming as a new staff member in the same year?

I’m nervous! I’d much rather be in-person. However, I understand why we’re virtual right now. I definitely do not take being together in a school building for granted anymore.


How will you incorporate your passion for the mental health of students  into your job?

I’m open to what students would like to see. I hear Lincoln has a mental health club, and I think that sounds interesting. It would be great to be involved in bringing awareness to mental health issues that impact students.


How do you feel about Lincoln so far?

The Lincoln community has been very warm and welcoming so far. I get the sense that everyone’s voice is valued, and that is really important to me.


Is there anything else you would like to say to Lincoln students?

Please don’t be shy to reach out, even if it’s just to say hello or to ask about something in this profile! My email is [email protected].

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