Teaching is vocation, not job for BSW program director

Luci Ramos Hoppe received an outstanding faculty award for the 2022-2023 school year. Photo courtesy of Baylor University

By Abby Gan | Staff Writer

Luci Ramos Hoppe, who serves as the bachelor’s of social work program director, was one of 12 professors to receive an outstanding faculty award for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Hoppe said one thing that stands out to her when reflecting on her teaching career is that, for her, teaching is a vocation, not just a job.

“What I think a lot of people hope for and not everyone gets is an opportunity to engage in vocation — where your calling meets what you get to do every day as a job,” Hoppe said. “If I think about my calling, serving students as whole persons, knowing that they’re a student in my classroom, but they’re also a child, they’re a partner, they’re a roommate, they’re a family member, they’re someone’s loved one. I’m with them for a very short time on their journey into their own vocation.”

Hoppe said it is an incredible honor to be a part of a student’s life in that way.

“In social work, I have the privilege of working with students who are leveraging their education to serve populations that a lot of society isn’t willing to serve,” Hoppe said.

Dr. Jon Singletary, dean of the School of Social Work, hired Hoppe eight years ago.

“It was one of the first things I did when I became dean, was created program directors for our BSW and MSW program,” Singletary said. “We hired Luci, Professor Hoppe, for the BSW program director position.”

Singletary said Hoppe is one of the school’s best professors.

“She’s not only beloved by students because of the level of care she provides, but they know that they’re going to learn what they need to learn,” Singletary said. “In her class, they’re going to be challenged, but they’re going to be challenged and respected for who they are at the same time.”

Singletary said Hoppe is phenomenal at preparing for her classes while staying on top of the current literature and research in the field.

“What she’s teaching really does reflect the most current evidence, the best research,” Singletary said. “She’s also very attentive to the diverse populations that we serve. So she really takes seriously the wide range of experiences [of] our clients, our people that social workers end up serving.”

Hoppe said she was initially uncertain about social work during undergrad. When she graduated from Baylor with her bachelor’s in social work and Spanish, she said she hadn’t known that there was a profession designed for what she wanted to do.

“I knew that I wanted to study something that would empower me to help others and particularly to help and serve populations that were underserved, but I didn’t know that there was a whole profession designed for that,” Hoppe said.

Now teaching college students, Hoppe said she tries to bridge the different experiences she has had in the field with the classroom. She spent time studying children and families, including premarital education, literacy efforts in faith-based contexts and child welfare.

“I really am thankful for all of those experiences, because they inform the ways that I teach,” Hoppe said.

Hoppe said a theme she has seen in social work is to look at people in the context of their environment.

“Considering that there are a lot of different factors in their environment that impact their choices, their capacity for change … [that’s where] I see students really be able to turn the corner from taking information from the text or from other scholarly sources and to be mobilized to be effective practitioners,” Hoppe said.

Hoppe said practitioners and social work students have an awareness of the need to attend to their own wellness in order to effectively serve people. She said others can learn from this attitude as well.

“Social work happens to be a discipline that there’s a lot less margin to get away with not tending to your own wholeness and well-being because of the level of crisis and suffering that you are exposed to,” Hoppe said. “I think that’s true across the board. … Your own wellness and … the level of professional care that you provide to whomever your clients or your end user might be, is so impacted by what you’re doing for yourself and how you’re taking your own well-being seriously.”