Joseph and Tamela Dreyer have their own love story to share, a love story that began at our very own School of Social Work.
Joe: We attended the MSW program together, and ran into each other at a field instructor training. Tamela came up to me to say hello.
Tamela: I was there with a friend and saw Joe sitting near the front. He usually sat near the front in all of the classes we had together. I said to my friend, “I’m going to go say hi.” We got to chatting and Joe mentioned that he was studying for his licensure exams. I suggested that we study together.
Joe: I enjoyed speaking with Tamela, and about a week later I called her and asked if she wanted to study for the exam together. She said she would and the rest is history!
Tamela: That’s the short version, ha! We studied together a few times and one Sunday afternoon Joe asked if I wanted to grab a bite to eat afterwards. I said yes and he said that he would drive. He led me downstairs to his red Pontiac Firebird, held the door open and drove over to Marieta’s. We had an excellent Mexican dinner and at the end of the night Joe asked if I wanted to go to an Aztec football game the following Saturday. I said yes and the rest is history.
Presently they live in La Mesa with their daughter and son and their miniature Schnauzer Max.
Joseph grew up in the La Mesa. He graduated from SDSU, with his Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Social Work. His parents are both alumni from SDSU, which drew him most to SDSU. As he says, “Being an Aztec was my only choice.” As an undergrad Joseph worked for an alcohol and drug treatment provider and notice many of people who came to provider in-service trainings were social workers and had a certain “swagger” and fund of knowledge that attracted him. As a student he was between psychology and social work, and is glad he took the social work route. During his graduate program he did the two-year program and was working half time, which he eventually changed to quarter time to focus on the program. In his graduate years his most fond moments were his classes and his field practicum. He really enjoyed being part of something and visiting with his peers in the program. His biggest joy was field, he had wonderful field instructors which led him to become field instructor himself and continues to supervise ASW’s. Joseph always takes pride in being a graduate from SDSU School of Social Work.
Tamela was born in Battle Creek, MI and lived in Virginia and Washington State prior to moving to San Diego. She attended the University of Washington for her undergraduate studies and obtained her B.A. in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations. Tamela first became interested in the field of social work after several discussions with a friend who was pursuing a social work degree in SDSU. After spending a number of years in the travel and hospitality industry, she knew that she wanted to shift her focus on becoming a “helper and healer” as the prospect of working with and advocating for individuals/populations that were marginalized and/or vulnerable appealed to her. During her graduate program she did the 3-year program as she was simultaneously working and attending grad school. She appreciates that SDSU offers a part time MSW program for people who are not able to attend grad school full-time. One of most fond moments she enjoys during graduate school was taking Dr. Packard’s organization and communities course, “He began every class with music and his tabletop going.” She as well enjoyed taking Professors Rasmussen’s general practice class, which she states, “It really was valuable and it laid the groundwork for my graduate studies in social work.”
Currently Joseph works for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Program; providing homeless veterans with permanent supportive housing, and facilitating support services. The most challenging aspect for his current work is witnessing someone suffer the consequences of their behavior in spite of available services and interventions. But his most rewarding moments he states, “Witnessing a young veteran regain hope, and return to productivity; and witnessing an older veteran regain dignity.”
Tamela is currently a LCSW and has her private practice. She’s been working in the field since 2002, and established her practice in 2009. Prior to starting her practice, she worked in a variety of settings i.e. homeless shelters, outpatient mental health, outpatient and residential alcohol and drug treatment. She also had the opportunity to teach an introduction to co-occurring disorders course at UCSD Extension from 2010 through 2015. She shares some of her challenging moments; most of the clients she works with seek therapy for addiction issues and co-occurring disorders. People with co-occurring disorders are at a higher risk for relapse, on the addiction side and on the mental health side. Some need a higher level of care and she helps them access and prepare for outpatient or residential drug and alcohol treatment therapy. Oftentimes there is history of chronic relapse which is challenging when planning a course of treatment and appropriate relapse prevention strategies/interventions. But her most rewarding moments and what she truly enjoys about her work is being a witness of growth and change. She provides support and guidance while her clients do the hard work of making the changes they want and need in their lives. She says, “I see myself as a holder of hope and a wounded healer, as people who choose this body of work do so for a reason. Seeing people find their own path to empowerment is a gift.”
In the future, Joseph hopes to continue working at the VA providing direct services and Tamela hopes to continue her private practice, being a PTA volunteer at her children’s school and being part of the social action committee at her church. Along with enjoying time with the family.
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Written by Melissa Sanchez, BSW