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Tony WilsonTony Wilson’s ’16 (’18 MSW) journey to TCU is unlike the typical path most students tread. Upon graduating high school, Wilson chose a different route. He joined the Marine Corps and found himself deploying to Afghanistan in 2010. His return to the states in 2012 marked the beginning of a new chapter as he utilized his military benefits to enroll at TCU. 

Driven by a desire to support fellow veterans, Wilson sought guidance from TCU’s Career Center, eventually discovering his passion within the Department of Social Work. After earning a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), Wilson continued his education at TCU, earning a Master of Social Work (MSW). 

While pursuing his MSW, Wilson found himself at DRC Solutions (DRC) in Fort Worth, a nonprofit organization that provides essential, evidence-based solutions that house individuals experiencing homelessness, helps set the stage for housing or satisfy unmet needs in the community. He started his career there as a case manager and eventually rose to the position of chief operating officer overseeing six program areas. 

During his undergraduate years, Wilson was first exposed to homelessness through his placement with Catholic Charities, a street outreach services program. This experience involved actively searching for individuals living in outdoor settings such as parks, wooded areas under bridges and other locations. With his team, Wilson approached these individuals, engaging them in conversations aimed at linking them with housing resources and health care services. 

 Reflecting on his return from Afghanistan in 2012, Wilson shared poignant stories of fellow Marines facing homelessness upon their return to the U.S. This realization sparked a motivation to effect meaningful change. 

“I wanted to understand how our shared experiences mold us, and how we can transform these challenges into positive endeavors,” said Wilson. 

Wilson attributes much of his success in pursuing his passion to his time at TCU. Despite his unconventional path to the university, Wilson established crucial connections with faculty members who played a significant role in his journey.  

He acknowledges the support and mentorship provided by various faculty, including Professor of Professional Practice Lynn Jackson, Ph.D., and Department Chair Nada Elias-Lambert, Ph.D 

“Their guidance and encouragement were instrumental in helping me navigate challenges and doubts as a non-traditional student with a military background,” explains Wilson, “boosting my confidence and determination along the way.” 

Tony WilsonThrough his work at DRC, Wilson has not only applied his academic knowledge but also gained invaluable insights into the real challenges faced by marginalized communities. 

 As a seasoned field instructor, Wilson has mentored students through intricate field placements, offering invaluable insights into societal challenges, like homelessness, in Fort Worth. Notably, Wilson’s internship program through DRC has become a launchpad for many social work students at TCU. Many former interns now serve as vital full-time staff members, a testament to Wilson’s investment in nurturing talent and empowering the next generation of social work professionals.  

 “I encourage students to break out of the ‘bubble’ of campus to learn more about the Fort Worth community.” 

“My experience in the social work program, coupled with my field placement, taught me the importance of approaching situations with an open mind and empathy, and to strive to understand others’ perspectives.”  

A lesson he believes is applicable beyond homelessness advocacy. His story is a testament to the transformative power of education, empathy and service. 

For current and future social work students, Wilson has a message: “Keep an open mind, do everything with the right intentions, treat people right and always try to learn something from everyone you meet.”