Andrea Cangiano was born in New York and grew up in Long Island. She received her Bachelors in Psychology in Massachusetts at College of the Holy Cross. Andrea enrolled in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps upon graduation, and was placed in Texas at AIDS Foundation Houston for the following year. This experience peaked her interest in social services, and she decided to pursue further work in this area when she moved to San Diego at the age of 24. In San Diego, Andrea worked at New Alternatives, a residential treatment placement for emotionally disturbed youth. She describes this as an amazing experience which taught her about the importance of teamwork, trust, and collaboration. She also worked for Telecare with the transition team, which assists individuals with severe mental illness in their transition from inpatient treatment back into the community. These work experiences gave Andrea a desire to learn more, so she decided to pursue her MSW at San Diego State University.
Throughout her studies at SDSU, Andrea felt very connected to the program due to the excitement of being back on campus and in a learning environment. One of her most memorable experiences was traveling to La Paz in Baja, Mexico for an immersion program through the Center for Latin American Studies. She lived with a host family in Mexico for a month after graduation and learned Spanish at the local University.
Andrea began working at Southern Caregiver Resource Center after she returned from Mexico. Her MSW concentration was in Health and Aging, and she was able to market her skills. She was employed as a family consultant for nine years. In this role, she assisted family caregivers of adults with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s, or injuries such as a stroke. This gave Andrea the opportunity to have a medical focus in social work, which had been of interest to her during her undergraduate studies. She ran caregiver support groups, had counseling sessions, conducted assessments and completed care planning. After nine years, she decided to branch out and pursue a private practice while working part-time as a medical social worker for a home health agency. After a short time, Andrea had an opportunity to return to Southern Caregiver Resource Center in a management role as the Director of Clinical Services. She currently holds this position.
The most challenging aspect of her current work has been the transition from clinical social work to a management role. Although she did not enroll in any social work administration classes while at SDSU, Andrea became a part of the Network for Social Work Management over the past year. She recently graduated from their mentorship program, which was an amazing experience that helped her transition to a management role. Andrea also uses her clinical skills as a manager, which has helped her be successful. The most rewarding aspect of her work has been the uniqueness of her role working with family caregivers. Caregiver needs are often not recognized due to the focus being mainly on the patient. Andrea has enjoyed being a part of an agency that targets this unique population. In the future, she hopes to continue developing her social work management skills, to keep feeling challenged, and to know she is helping others. She advises social work students to make the most of the learning experience and encourages a strong foundation of clinical skills regardless of the concentration.
written by: Kelly Reilly