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StLawrencePlace Gerald-0208BSW Student Honored for His Professional Work with USC

Gerald Davis Jr. has received the 2014 Outstanding Service Professional Award for his work at St. Lawrence Place, a transitional housing program for homeless families. USC’s Leadership and Service Center sponsors this award to honor a staff member of a local non-profit agency for their work with USC students, faculty, and staff.

Davis has worked closely with the Office of Student Engagement and Service Learning and various USC initiatives including “Let’s Talk Science,” “Communities in Harmony,” “Access to Higher Education,” and “Project Vida.” He has worked with these groups for the past two years providing extracurricular activities and education to the children of St. Lawrence Place.

Honored for his professional work with USC, Davis has also been closely involved with USC through the College of Social Work as a student. He has just graduated with his BSW, and he is starting the advanced standing MSW program this summer.

“This award means the world to me,” Davis said. “It spotlights the many hours of service I have dedicated to giving back to the community because someone helped me get to where I am today. I have always worked to give our youth experiences they might not have had the chance to be part of in the arts and science arena.”

COSW Celebrates the Retirement of Two Professors

The College of Social Work celebrated with two of its faculty, Drs. Miriam Johnson and Gil Choi, as they retired. Both have accomplished much in their social work careers—at USC and beyond.

COSW Retirement MiriamJohnson 0002Dr. Miriam Johnson, PhD, MSW, most recently served as Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs. Yet, with 20 years as a practitioner and 20 as an academic, her work has ranged from helping refugees adjust to American life to teaching social work students about research methods. “When I decided to go into social work, I wanted to do something that wouldn’t leave me bored. And boredom certainly wasn’t a problem,” she said.

While Dr. Johnson will enjoy the freedom retirement brings, including spending more time in her garden and pursuing creative outlets like painting and photography, she’s not completely ready to leave the classroom behind. She will continue to teach select classes at USC, and she’s currently finishing a social work textbook with Professor Emerita Dr. Rita Rhodes. “I think if I were walking away, I’d miss academia,” she said. “There’s a synergy you get when different people come at a problem with different ideas. This energy is what academia’s about.” Donations may be made in her honor to the Bachelor’s in Social Work program, which is within the USC College of Social Work.

COSW Retirement GilChoi 0004Dr. Gil Choi, PhD, MSW, has a career that has carried him around the world. Most recently he was an Associate Professor at USC and the director of the Korea-based MSW program at USC, which began in 1993. The program is one of only a few MSW programs offered in its entirety by an American university outside of the continental U.S., and Dr. Choi is proud of all he contributed to create and sustain this project. With the help of Dr. Choi’s leadership, the Korea-based program has graduated over 170 MSWs who are working across Korea, in the United States, and in other countries. Though retired, Dr. Choi is continuing his work with the Korea-based MSW program with a new cohort that entered the program on May 15. Donations to honor Dr. Choi’s dedication may be made to the Korea-based MSW program.

While these two professors may be moving on to new stages of their lives, it’s clear that they’ll continue to make change happen in communities both near and far.  Dean Scheyett reflects the feelings of many when she says, “The College of Social Work and the profession of social work owe both of these pioneers a debt of gratitude. Their leadership has been very important to the College, and they will be sorely missed.”

SaydePortraitDiscovering The Spirit of an Activist

When people read Dr. Sadye Logan’s new book, The Spirit of an Activist: The Life and Times of I. DeQuincey Newman, she hopes they “come away with an expanded vision of who Newman was.” Although Rev. Newman was an important leader of the Civil Rights movement in South Carolina, Dr. Logan thought that the historical representations of him were incomplete. Most of what was written about him comprised newspaper articles that often recited the same facts and events but didn’t tell the whole story. “If I hadn’t been persistent, that’s what history would’ve been left with,” Dr. Logan said.

The biography, which was published by USC Press in April 2014, offers a more complete story of Rev. Newman’s life, told through the voices of a wide cast of characters. Dr. Logan pieced the narrative of Rev. Newman’s life together from the “bits and pieces” that had been written about him and extensive interviews she conducted with Rev. Newman’s family, friends, and colleagues. “The voices of the people I interviewed bring richness to the story being told and, in that way, make the book unique,” she said.

LoganBookCoverThe Spirit of an Activist is a book about human rights, civil rights, activism, and advocacy and, Dr. Logan hopes, an important resource for anyone researching Rev. Newman’s life. However, she thinks it can do more than that. “I think the book will spark more interest in Civil Rights heroes that people haven’t heard of,” she said. “And I hope readers will leave the book motivated to work toward a more just and equal society.”

Dr. Sadye Logan is a distinguished emeritus faculty member of the College of Social Work, the former I. DeQuincey Newman Professor, and founder and director of the I. DeQuincey Newman Institute for Peace and Social Justice at USC. Dr. Logan will contribute the proceeds from the book to a scholarship fund to support the education of students of color from rural South Carolina.

PhiAlpha 1292-EditPhi Alpha National Honor Society New Member Induction

USC Xi Tau Chapter of the Phi Alpha National Honor Society for Social Work inducted 102 new members to their organization. Phi Alpha chapters strive to encourage social work ideals through service, professional development, and education. This local chapter works to help students develop professionally through practice and experiences outside of the classroom.
Phi Alpha offers or co-sponsors over 170 unique service learning opportunities throughout the year, such as the Second Tuesday Series, and promotes advocacy and service around Columbia, Charleston, and Greenville through events such as the Pride Rallies, Walk a Mile, and Disability Advocacy Day. Upcoming events include the Walk in our Shoes 2014 Homeless Awareness Tour on April 26th and a cookout sponsoring Epworth Children's Home May 3rd.

In addition to service learning opportunities, the chapter meetings feature guest speakers; recent topics include, "Cultural Competence with the Hispanic Community: What Social Workers Should Know" and "Green Social Work.”

For MPH and MSW Candidate Vice President Aaron Guest, the annual induction ceremony is the highlight of the year. Guest said, “The induction ceremony is one of the only opportunities for the whole chapter to come together.” Having the membership together allows for the organization leadership to reflect on what their members have accomplished. Inductees must have 15 credit hours of MSW coursework and at least a 3.5 GPA. This induction ceremony includes a large number of inductees who bring varied experiences to the organization and the COSW.

Phi Alpha President and MSW Candidate Meghan Hill sees the breadth of the community as a huge asset: “The social work student body is so diverse. Between part-time, full time, advanced standing, dual degree, and distance campuses, all of our new inductees have a variety of experiences that have made them great members, and will make them great social workers. I could not be prouder of the cohort of new inductees. I know they will make their marks after graduation.”

Along with the member inductions, the ceremony includes two honorary memberships acknowledging outstanding work for the program or the community. This year’s honorees are Dr. Maryah Fram and Dr. Aidyn Iachini. In addition, The Outstanding Member Award, which is given to a member who exceeds membership requirements and represents the organization in a positive way, was presented to Shaida Blackmon. She currently serves as the Charleston Cohort Representative and helped establish the regional Phi Alpha cohorts at the COSW’s satellite campuses in Greenville and Charleston. Dean Anna Scheyett said, “The entire COSW community is proud of Shaida and all of the new inductees. Phi Alpha is a great opportunity to gain professional development experience and to provide community service.”

SCLENDDeveloping Social Work Leadership in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

Three MSW presented their research in front of a gathering of students and faculty members from 10 different disciplines. Rebecca Wells (left) presented her research project titled, "Assessing the patient education experiences of parents/guardians following a child's diagnosis of autism." Bree Alexander (center) presented her project titled, "Social networking after post-secondary education." Erica McCaslin (right) presented her project titled, "Exploring parent-perceived challenges to treatment utilization in a publicly-funded behavioral intervention program."

These presentations marked their completion of a year-long interdisciplinary leadership training program, the South Carolina Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (SC LEND). SC LEND is a statewide collaborative made up of faculty and students from the University of South Carolina, the Medical University of South Carolina, and Greenville Hospital System.

SC LEND trainees complete an interdisciplinary course, participate in numerous leadership trainings, provide clinical services to individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities, receive mentorship from families of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities, and conduct community-based research and leadership projects under the supervision of faculty members. Interested social work students may contact Dr. Robert Hock (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to apply.

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