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Sharlei Deltang: Bridging Support at Chez Veterans Center

Sharlei Deltang

BSW Intern, Chez Veterans Center

A photo of Sharlei Deltang in her graduation gown on stone steps

Bringing her experiences from a military family background and living overseas, Sharlei Deltang has made the best of her internship at Chez Veterans Center.

BSW student Sharlei Deltang has been busy with her internship at Chez Veterans Center, where she brings her passion for supporting military-connected students into action. One such action is the newly formed Military Connections Collective that welcomes not just students, but also military-connected parents, children, and community members, driven by Sharlei herself.

“The Military Connections Collective at the Chez Veterans Center serves as a support program designed to aid military-connected students, especially first-year students transitioning into higher education,” Sharlei says. “The aim is to foster a supportive environment that complements the Chez Veterans Center Case Management model, ensuring that these students have a smooth and successful transition. As new students come every semester, I wanted to have a setting that supported the idea of a one-stop shop model where anyone within the community could stop in and be supported by the facilities and services we have at Chez. This included study hall hours, collaborations with the community, and social events.

The inspiration for creating this program comes from my military family background and the experiences I gained while living overseas and across the United States,” she goes on to explain. “This diverse upbringing instilled in me a deep appreciation for the stories and journeys of others, fueling my passion for supporting military-connected students and everyone within our CU community. Dora Watkins, an inspiration of mine and a trailblazer within our community, posed an insightful question about who I bring with me everyday into the field of social work. It is my parents I bring, and how my dad joined the military to provide for us.

I’ve seen PTSD first-hand, and the unfortunate lack of mental health support for the military community. I want to change that, and most of all military-connected students who want to chase their dreams and transition from the military.”

Sharlei’s outreach has not been limited to veterans, and she has been working hard to create a welcoming atmosphere for all students.

“I’ve organized various workshops and collaborative efforts to engage both military-connected students and the broader student body,” she says. Her efforts include collaborations with McKinley Health Center, where the Center has hosted workshops on nutrition, sexual health, and stress management specifically tailored to the needs of military-connected students, as well as partnerships with the School of Social Work.

“By inviting social work students to visit the Chez and explore its facilities,” Sharlei explains, “I’ve sought to expose them to the military-connected population. This helps them understand the thoughtful design of the center, especially in terms of ADA accessibility.”

Her internship has not remained without its challenges, which Sharlei has learned from and integrated into her approach to social work. “One of the key challenges I’ve faced in this role has been the need to remain flexible and patient, particularly as building a program requires time and collaboration. Additionally, the post-COVID era has brought challenges in student retention, leading to a need for creativity and receptiveness to new ideas. Therefore, I went out of the box and brought in new populations within the community to be exposed to our center. For example, this includes social work students and the University Primary School students through a field trip I coordinated with another BSW Intern, Ailayna Gaffney!”

“During Sharlei’s time at Chez Veterans Center she has shown a deep passion for the military community,” Ingrid Wheeler, Assistant Director of Chez Veterans Center and MSW ’11 says. “She has embraced challenges, connected with peers on multiple levels, streamlined community-building initiatives, and helped to illuminated some of the distinct needs of military dependents. Her innovative problem-solving opens doors to diverse opportunities and connections.”

Sharlei’s experiences at Chez Veterans Center have been fulfilling, and she has some parting words of advice for prospective and current social work students. “For those considering a career in social work, my advice is to be proactive and get involved in the campus and community as much as possible. Regardless of your year in school, there are opportunities to engage in research, internships, work-study jobs, and other social work-related activities. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks or challenges—keep asking questions and join our wide ranges of organizations such as Read for Impact: Social Work Book Club, Social Works!, Latino Social Work Organization, and SWSA!”

Both Sharlei and Ailayna were interviewed by WAND about the University Primary School fieldtrip to Chez Veterans Center. Check out the interview!

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