Lorelei Bonet, LCSW
Oncology Social Worker, Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology
After studying theater in New York City at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, I worked in a variety of fields prior to returning to my education. I received my BA at Hunter College of the City University of New York with a double major in Psychology and Theater. I then initiated Ph.D. studies in social psychology with a focus on Health Psychology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, working in HIV research for nearly four years.
During this time, it became very clear to me that the elements of the work that I loved most and felt were most gratifying had nothing to do with research, and everything to do with the people I encountered, who were willing to share the intimate details of their life stories with me. Their honesty, resilience, and depth taught me more than I could have imagined, and I decided to re-focus my energies on a Masters of Social Work degree. In my second and final year of masters level study at the University of Southern California, I was encouraged to pursue an internship at the Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, at which point the trajectory of my life changed, and I found what I believe is my true calling—work with cancer patients and their families.
In many ways, my varied and indirect path has been a profound blessing. I have worked in many settings, ranging from pharmaceutical advertising to work in an executive fitness center, selling chocolates to editing stock video footage. As my interests narrowed, so did my ability to focus on new skills needed to move forward in my selected field. After graduating with my MSW from USC, I was immediately hired as the oncology social worker at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. It was at St. Joseph’s that I was able to gain clinical confidence as well as a true understanding of the complex machine that is contemporary healthcare. A diverse patient population in both the in- and out-patient settings allowed me to hone my skills as an advocate, mediator, a collaborator, and facilitator of support groups.
As part of my continuing professional trajectory, I earned my state licensure in May of 2013. My time at St. Joseph’s was a period of immense change and transition, both personally and professionally, and I knew, when the opportunity came for me to return to the Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, the place where I “hatched,” that I was doing so as my best self, ready to contribute to a new setting and enter a new chapter of my life.