Published: April 7, 2020

Before Shay Gonzales graduated from CU Denver in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a minor in Communications, he had attended Community College of Denver where he earned his Associate’s degree in Art. Over the years Gonzales’ academic career has continued to progress. The research Gonzales conducted while at CU Denver however, helped led him to his current career and passion in social work.

From CU Denver, Gonzales went on to earn his Masters in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago in 2019. When asked why he pursued a career in social work, Gonzales shares, “I wrote my honors thesis for the History Department with Dr. Chris Agee and focused on social movement organizations in Denver. I think researching ACT UP led me to my passion for harm reduction and to my career in social work.” While at the University of Chicago, Gonzales was the co-editor in chief of Advocates Forum, the student run journal. He says that participating in managing the journal built upon his experiences in the different departments at CU Denver. While Gonzales was working on his Masters, he completed an internship at an HIV housing services organization. Part of the internship included researching and using archival skills to analyze the changing environment of homeless services toward harm reduction.

Gonzales recently started working in a new position in the social work field as a Medication Assisted Therapy Care Manager in a community family medical clinic. In the new grant funded position, Gonzales oversees managing and growing a buprenorphine program, which is an opioid agonist that relieves the physical symptoms of opioid dependency so patients can focus on recovery.  Part of the position also tasks him to expand access to health care for drug users in a suburb outside Pittsburg. As Gonzales tracks patients and develops contacts with local services and recovery supports, he also works with partner hospitals to assess their capacities to service opioid users. A goal of this project is to try and identify barriers to opioid user health care.

While there are distinct differences between History and Social Service Administration, Gonzales reflects “I’m thankful for my history education, for the skillset to research, and specifically to use that research to develop my own path through my career to this point.” The History Department is excited for Gonzales continuing work and are proud to have diverse scholars a part of our alumni family.