Social Work Alum Returns to Classroom as Newly Hired Assistant Lecturer

Vené BaggettVené Baggett, 43, is one of the many educators returning to the classroom this fall, but for her, the moment has significance beyond just the start of another school year.

Recently hired as an assistant lecturer and field coordinator in the Social Work program at A&M-Central Texas, Baggett already knows the campus, its classrooms, and her colleagues because she is returning to the very place her journey as a social worker began.

“I graduated from A&M-Central Texas with my undergraduate degree in social work in 2012,” she said, flashing a 100-kilowatt smile. “So, it is very special not just to return to the place that helped make my career, but to be able to do that for the social work students who are here to pursue the same career that I chose more than a decade ago.”

Baggett may be new to her position, but she is most decidedly not new to education.

“There is a long line of educators on my father’s side of the family,” she explained. “My father taught in universities his entire life after earning a doctorate in finance. One of my aunts has taught in the Dallas Independent School District for years. I guess it just runs in our blood.”

But there is more to it than even that, she suggested. It is one thing to be offered a teaching position at a university; but it an entirely different experience to be doing it in the very same classrooms where she was once a student herself.

“I have always had a passion for serving others,” she said, describing a long-time career with LaVega ISD where she began as a student services liaison working with students who were at risk, including what some might call ‘hard to serve’ populations including juvenile detention center referrals, gang involved students, and migrant communities.

“When I entered the social work program as a student, I was already an instructor’s aide, and I got the promotion at LaVega because I had earned my social work degree. It literally elevated me and opened opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Baggett admits that she never thought she would be returning to the University as a part of the social work program, but she is thrilled to return to the place and the program that made her who she is today.

“When I was a student, the faculty in the department saw something in me before I saw it in myself,” she said, her dark eyes twinkling with pride. “I was surrounded by people like Tameka Harris Jackson, Veronica Molina, Claudia Rappaport, and Tammy Sung. They will forever be a part of my foundation as a social worker.”

Filled with equal parts of awe and inspiration, Baggett says that she will think about those former teachers every time she steps into the classroom or sits down to help a student.

“When you experience the power of teaching that is truly exceptional, it stays with you as a learner and has real transformative impact,” she said. “What they did for me is nothing short of life changing. And I absolutely cannot wait to have the same impact on my students that they all had on me.”

Baggett earned her graduate degree at the Worden School of Social Work at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, graduating in 2015 after successfully seeing her husband, Brandon, a former National Guardsman, through a kidney transplant where she was the donor.

The way she sees it, social work is more than a job; it is a calling, something that is, for her, quite literally “in her blood.”

The best part, she says, is tapping the life experiences of social work students and leveraging their desire to serve others.

“I came to A&M-Central Texas as a student, and my journey was not without its obstacles,” she added, explaining how she began first at UT-Arlington, then, faced with financial limitations, transferred to McLennan Community College, earning an associates degree thinking she would attend Baylor.

“As fate would have it, we moved to Copperas Cove, and that plan went right out the window,” she laughed. “But all my courses transferred right into A&M-Central Texas, and I began the social work program, and I enjoyed every moment

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