Cynthia Reibenstein (’75, M.S.W. ’88)
Cynthia Reibenstein (’75, M.S.W. ’88) is a member of the “Here, We Go” Campaign committee for the Graduate College of Social Work, and has also served as an adjunct professor since 1992. Having worked in various hospital and home-health settings, she is a seasoned social worker, helping all kinds of people who are struggling. A strongly engaged alumna, she shares some of the challenges of her profession and imagines what UH will have accomplished by 2020.
Are you originally from Houston?
Yes! I was born and raised on the Northwest side of town. I graduated from Waltrip High School before attending the University of Houston.
How did you come to get both your undergraduate degree in Health & Physical Education and your graduate degree in social work at UH?
I chose Health & Physical Education because it taught about the functioning of the body and I was very interested in medicine. Unfortunately, my family was not supportive of a woman going into medicine as this was before all the opportunities and role models that women have today. I enjoyed my undergraduate degree and I coached at Eisenhower High School for almost 20 years.
During that time, I became very aware of the disproportionality of academic success due to socioeconomic factors, and I always had an inclination to help those in need. That’s when I began my social work journey — because of my interest in helping the physically disabled, as well as improving the overall health of families.
How did UH contribute to your success?
Networking with the people I have come into contact with at UH has been extremely important to me.
What is the most challenging part of being a practicing social worker?
The most challenging part of being a practicing social worker at this stage in my professional life is trying to articulate the professionalism versus the job with current students and young professionals out in the field. As many new social workers do not have role models in agencies that they are working in because there are no other social workers in the agency, they lack social work grounding and foundation.
Tell me about your company, Reibenstein and Associates: Personal and Professional Development. Why did you pick the motto “Become the Best You Can Be!”?
Reibenstein and Associates presents, educates and counsels individuals, groups and/or organizations on a variety of topics through various avenues to assist each one of us to become our best! From learning how to assist others through life or in crisis, to developing more fully on a personal/professional level, Reibenstein and Associates is here to serve everyone! Currently, most of my work is in professional development, through clinical supervision and field instruction.
I firmly believe that each person has their own unique set of gifts and abilities, and we should always be striving to improve ourselves — as well as be true to ourselves. I believe everyone is growing, and I hope to continue to grow and become a better “me” each and every year.
What is your main responsibility as a Graduate College of Social Work Campaign Committee member, and what do you hope UH will have accomplished by 2020?
One of my main responsibilities is trying to reach out to alumni to reengage them in what’s going on at UH. I hope UH continues to grow in academic success, but as that is almost a given, I think the true measure of accomplishment will be for UH to ignite the silent alumni from many years ago to become a vibrant force, committed to improving the University by becoming a pillar of strength. Also, I hope that UH will place in a conference that has higher status — this will increase the national recognition for UH.