Student Spotlight

Graduation Spotlight: Andrew Wiater, Social Work

Written By: Lasha Markham | May 2, 2024

Andrew Wiater in front of reflecting pondMeet Andrew Wiater. He has a disability, but he has never wanted to let that define him or his future. Throughout his life, he has shattered expectations set for him and soon, he will do it again. When he said he wanted to go two hours away to college, his family was hesitant, but supportive. Four years later, as he prepares to graduate, he is filled with excitement, encouragement and pride. After graduation, he plans to write and publish a book about the challenges and celebrations that come with being both queer and disabled in the world and in college. In the long-term, he hopes to attain his Master of Social Work and become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) to help people like him.

Hometown: Dunnellon, FL

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

What will you be doing after graduation?

I just recently received an offer from my internship placement where I have been interning for the past semester doing accessibility case management, and I accepted a part-time position. While working part-time, I plan to also write a memoir of my experiences being a queer, disabled individual. I believe now is the perfect time to tell my story as I have proven to myself, and truly believe for the first time in my life, that my story is worth telling. This is because I feel like the experience of going to college and living independently has really brought me so much growth and insight, and I want to share it with the world.

What are your long-term career plans?

My long-term career goals are that I want to be a LCSW which will require me to go back to graduate school eventually. Once I receive my license and receive all my hours of supervision, I want to become a therapist that specializes in sexual health therapy and operate my own private practice. I hope that I can create a safe space for queer and disabled individuals specifically to feel welcomed and safe and help break down the barriers that disabled and or queer individuals face within intimate relationships with others and themselves as well. I hope that by the end of my career I look back and was able to at least be a small wave in the never-ending movement of bringing love back into the world more vividly, while also helping reveal to people the gifts and strength they bring into the world.

What accomplishment from your time at UCF are you most proud of?

I am most proud of maintaining a GPA above 3.5 my whole entire educational journey at UCF, while having to balance obstacles and challenges. The reason I’ve been able to accomplish this is by having the support of my friends and loved ones and not allowing myself to give up on my goals and ambitions. No matter what life threw my way, I was able to rise above it and reinvent myself every single time by believing that I am enough just as I am, even if life threw curveballs my way.

Andrew on campusWhat did you love the most about your time at UCF?

The thing that I loved most about my time at UCF was the transformative nature of my journey here. I experienced so many aspects and experiences in the last few years as a Knight. I’ve experienced gut-wrenching heartbreak, deep betrayal, uncontainable joy and happiness, and unmeasurable growth. Through even the darkest storms, I was able to wield the melancholic dazes into beautiful lessons that changed me for the better, as a student and as an individual. Looking back as I am writing this, I am a week away from graduation, and I am so blown away by the way I have transformed because I chose to continue my educational career here at UCF. Overall, that’s what I have admired about my time as a Knight: how these black and gold institutional walls have spun me in a tornado, twisting and pushing me to face every part of myself, acknowledging it even if it was ugly to do so. To come back as a new version of myself, that has a new and fresh perspective, that can slay even the biggest of their demons, and make their dreams and ambitions and dreams a reachable reality.

What was your favorite class, professor, or experience at CHPS, and why?

As a student majoring in social work, I can say with absolute certainty that all my faculty and professors that I have had the pleasure of learning from exceeded all my expectations. My whole experience and journey was filled with insight, empathy, and support and that is solely because of my professors and my wonderful cohorts. Reflecting deeply on all my professors and courses over the past few years, I would say there are several classes and professors that shaped my overall experience at CHPS to be what it was.

First, Instructor Joy Chuba, who I had for Practice and Documentation. Instructor Chuba has such a profound amount of experience in the field of social work, and it was an honor to learn from her and get a taste of her humor in the process.

Secondly, Instructor Douglas Keown, who I had for both my Human Behavior and the Social Environment classes. One thing was evidently clear during our courses together that he deeply cared about us as students and made our three-hour classes feel like thirty minutes with his quick wit.

Thirdly, Instructor Nicole Swartz who I had for Practice II who solidified for me that private practice therapy is my true passion, and that my vision is clear and can most definitely happen.

Fourthly, Instructor Ashley Morris who I had for Culturally Competent Social Work Practice, who expanded my mindset of my own biases that I before was not aware of to create a safe and welcoming environment for all clients and made me aware of the impact of my identities on how they will affect my future practice.

Finally, Senior Instructor Robin Kohn, the director of the BSW program, who has given me a cornucopia of knowledge, and instilled confidence in me as a future social worker who happens to have a disability.


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