Wow, this week we caught up with Jo Ferlatte ’96 and his story has blown us away! After Hyde Jo harnessed all of his childhood experiences and used them as a catapult to launch his career in Social Work. Jo has been a social worker for 20 years now and has been giving back to his community in extraordinarily honorable ways. Thank you for all of the work you do and sharing your story/ advice with us Jo!
Describe your career path:
“I have been a social worker for over 20 years. My childhood was very traumatic. I was born with a drug addiction, taken from my family by Children’s Services and suffered the trauma of being a young child in foster care. From those experiences, I developed the innate desire to help those that have suffered from indifference/ tragedy and whom have been disenfranchised from the greater society.
After leaving Hyde, I went to SDSU where I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I started case managing in Single Room Occupancy Hotels located in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. I moved on to case managing Violent Offenders recently released from prison in an effort to reduce recidivism in the City of Oakland. I then transitioned to managing Multi Service Centers for the homeless providing employment, housing and other programs. After receiving my Master’s in Social Work, I moved on to the medical field of social work plying my skills as a “fixer of problems” in a Director of Social Work role in several Skilled Nursing Facilities. Currently, I am working as a Social Worker in the Intensive Care Units at Sutter Hospitals in both Oakland and Berkeley.”
Which word or principle has stayed with you the most?
“I think while I was at Hyde the principal that rang most true for me was courage. While I was most certainly embodying it incorrectly at the time it was the one that I truly owned. The courage that I endeared, was the courage to protect my well-being at all costs. While it was something I had pride in at the time, it was also a detriment to my success.
In my growth as a person after Hyde, that courage has turned to a different principle. By releasing my hold on needing to be courageous at all costs, I began to have concern. Concern for myself and my need to heal as well as concern for others and their need for my support. It is now the reason why I do the work that I do. In regards to the concern for myself, I invested in the search for my biological parents and to get answers about who I am, where I came from and why I felt so alone. In that search I found freedom.”
Which teacher(s) had a particular impact?
“Mr. Bragg: He has always been supportive and similar to a father figure for me. Mr. Bragg had that somber silence about him that let you know when you did something that did not sit well with him. Mr. Bragg is the kind of guy you want to work hard to please.”
“Todd Clauer: He gave me a chance in math during a time that I really struggled with it. He made me believe that I could achieve academically if I worked at it. He was not a guy I would have expected to make me feel that way but, I did.”
What advice might you give to a Hyde student?
“Don’t expect that once you graduate from Hyde your struggle will be over. Don’t expect that after leaving Hyde you will be fixed. The fact is there is a good chance you will experience setbacks after leaving the structure provided by Hyde. Nevertheless, stay true to yourself and pay attention to the things you have learned about yourself while at Hyde. Repeat those things and expand on them. Enjoy the confidence that comes with those successes.”