Oct
21

The University Women's Club Fall Coffee
Oct
23

Out of the Darkness Community Walk
Oct
26

Lunch & Learn - "Healthy Decision Making"
Nov
09

Lunch & Learn - "Independent Living"

11.14.2016

india gp web

The CoSW will host eight students from Maharaja Sayajirao (MS)University of Baroda which is located in Gujarat, India for ten days this month. The students will pair up with a current CoSW student “buddy” as they learn about social work in the US including education, mental health, drug and substance abuse, geriatrics, and child care.  This visit is a part of an exchange program led by Sudie Nallo and Melissa Reitmeier. Find the story from The Time of India here.

 

11.01.2016

College students are not the only beneficiaries of the CoSW’s faculty experts and community partnerships. The CoSW often offers CEU opportunities for practitioners in an effort to strengthen our community and foster positive relationships with organizations. The Second Tuesday Series and i3’s Innovation Design Institute are just two ways in which the CoSW is committed to community.

The Second Tuesday Series features rotating guest speakers and is open to anyone. Lana Cook, Field Seminar Instructor and Training Coordinator, currently facilitates the program, which was started by Director of Field Education and Clinical Associate Professor Melissa Reitmeier. Reitmeier introduced the idea three years ago as a way to give back to the field community, explains Cook, and the series took off from there. “Field supervisors give so much of their time,” says Cook, and offering free CEU opportunities seemed like a good way to thank them.

The purpose of Second Tuesdays is to provide the tools required for developing a certain skill set. Additionally, each event boasts excellent opportunities for networking. Social workers from schools, hospitals, and non-profit organizations can learn from each other. Attendees may come to the event hoping to learn about an underserved population, but they can also gain exposure to how other organizations work to serve that population.

This fall semester, Second Tuesday has hosted a workshop on poverty and homelessness, led by the MSW graduate and Director of Programs at Transitions Lauren Wilkie, and a program about working with undocumented immigrants, led by Assistant Professor Ben Roth. Roth was “pleasantly surprised at the number of people in the room who came with questions.” Roth began the evening with a brief history lesson starting in the 1800s, in order to show “how recent the idea of ‘undocumented’ as a category is in relation to the story of immigration in the U.S.” and how important understanding this history is for social workers. Participants asked questions about immigrant rights and immigration policy in South Carolina and were engaged and enthusiastic.

The last Second Tuesday of the year is “Introducing Welcome Table SC: A Collaborative for Race and Reconciliation” with Rushondra James, a Student Services Program Coordinator with the CoSW, and Dawn Campbell, an instructor in Women’s and Gender Studies. James and Campbell were selected as Faculty Facilitators for the new South Carolina Collaborative on Race and Reconciliation sponsored by UofSC’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Advance registration is a must, as seating is limited.

i3 photo2A very different learning opportunity is offered via Dr. Robert Hock’s i3 project, which is an incubator for bold ideas for solving social problems. Applications for the 2017 cohort are due on November 14th. Groups from non-profit organizations can attend a Prep Session and apply for the i3 Incubator. In the future, i3 will host an Innovation Design Institute. The Institute “is part of i3’s mission,” explains Hock, “to help equip leaders in social sector organizations to create innovative solutions and implement them in the community.” Though any group is welcome to apply for the i3 incubator, Institute participants will have an “opportunity to put focused energy into teams of people and to walk everyone through a process” that will help gain a nuanced look at a problem and determine possible solutions. In this human-centered design process, teams identify a problem, craft a problem statement, and use visual thinking techniques like storyboarding or creating a composite of a client. Then, after participants have made some insights, they move on to the brainstorming phase. The goal here is to “keep pushing for the ideas that haven’t emerged yet—then we move into the prototyping process,” says Hock. Participants “build to learn,” an energizing strategy which is not always feasible for time- and cash-strapped non-profits.

“Our hope is to inspire leaders and equip teams to launch new social solutions in our community—and get people excited again!” says Hock. “We’re hoping to spark and be a hub of creativity” for social organizations looking to innovate and invigorate.

i3 will continue to offer prototyping and workshops on program implementation and a variety of free resources on its website. Through innovative projects like i3 and workshops like Second Tuesdays, faculty and staff at the CoSW are engaging the community and strengthening social work practice in South Carolina.

Darby Enright04.12.2016

BSW student Darby Enright was presented with the 2016 Stand Up Carolina award. The Stand Up Carolina Hero Awards, hosted by Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention & Prevention, recognize accountable bystanders—members of the University of South Carolina community whospeak up,stand up, take action, and make a difference in the lives of others. Through a variety of actions and deeds, large and small, Stand Up Carolina Hero Award recipients have helped friends, classmates, coworkers, and even complete strangers.

Darby said, “I am so humbled and thankful to have received a Stand Up Carolina HERO Award. I am blessed to attend a University that has offered me so many opportunities to grow both in leadership and philanthropic efforts."

Latino community with 10.31.2016

When Lauren Andreu began the MSW program, she looked around the classroom and was surprised not to see “a ton of people who looked like me.” Andreu, a native South Carolinian and Cuban-American, knew that the Latino population in South Carolina was climbing, but this demographic shift wasn’t represented in her program.

Andreu also experienced some knowledge gaps in her classes and was often called upon to represent the Latino perspective. “Sometimes that was alienating,” she admits, and problematic—“I’m just one person,” she says. She couldn’t possibly represent the variety and complexity of Latino experience.

Andreu was inspired to take action by her first-year internship at PASOs, an organization dedicated to building healthy families in the Latino community. At a stakeholders’ meeting with service providers, Andreu recalls hearing a nurse tell a story about a laboring pregnant woman who had to wait two hours for a translator to arrive at the hospital. Hearing that story “just put an exclamation point on my initial thought” that there are gaps in resources and services for Latinos in South Carolina, says Andreu. This “ah-ha” moment led Andreu to seek out other students, the dean, and Assistant Professor Ben Roth.

The result of their efforts is the new Latino Leadership Development Initiative, which aims to recruit and retain talented Latino students. Andreu stresses that the initiative wouldn’t have taken off without the “efforts and energies” of other students, including recent MSW graduate Alfonso Franco and current BSW student Melissa Aguirre. So far, the initiative has produced a strategic plan that outlines steps for increasing Latino student enrollment within the next five years. According to Roth, the initiative seeks “to equip students and faculty to better engage, serve, and collaborate with the Latino community.” This goal can be achieved by increasing Latino representation within the College and providing additional training opportunities.

The initiative began as a simple dialogue: “a group of undergraduate and graduate students had a couple meetings and convened a group of faculty to talk with them,” says Roth, “opening up the opportunity for those students to share their perspective.” Over a dozen faculty attended this fruitful initial conversation. The students set the agenda and started by each sharing the story of their path to higher education. “They wanted a more nuanced and sophisticated appreciation of who Latinos are,” explains Roth. Some of these students were international, some were local, and all had different experiences. These personal stories were “a really captivating way to engage these heads of programs at the College,” says Roth, noting that “everyone was enthusiastically supportive.”

Key to the initiative’s success is keeping the dialogue going. This semester, the initiative is sponsoring a lunch event for Latino students and allies. The goal of the meeting, according to Roth, is “to formalize a core group of students for carrying the initiative forward and raising further awareness” of the issues faced by members of the Latino community.

Short-term goals include reducing some of the financial barriers that Latino students may encounter. The strategic plan recommends the creation of new scholarships and graduate assistantships, including a dedicated graduate assistant for the initiative. Other goals include improving Latino visibility and making the CoSW more welcoming to Latino students. These multi-faceted goals recognize that there is no easy, one-size-fits-all solution to improving Latino recruitment and retention in the CoSW; after all, “Latino” encompasses a variety of different experiences and perspectives.

Andreu has already been recognized for her hard work: she’s a recent recipient of the prestigious Gosnell Scholarship, awarded by the National Association of Social Workers. The award is named after Consuelo Gosnell, a prominent social worker and civil rights activist, and was also awarded to Roth when he was an MSW student. For Andreu, the scholarship “means that there are people in the social work realm who really value the importance of the work that is being done with Latino communities,” and she says she is encouraged by it.

Andreu hopes that the initiative extends well past her graduation and “gains traction with faculty and staff,” citing the importance of added cultural competence in the classroom so students are ready to engage with the Latino community when they enter the field. Thanks to the efforts of Andreu and Roth, the Latino Leadership Development Initiative is providing a path toward improved representation and cultural competence that will prepare CoSW graduates for the future.

Anyone interested in supporting the Latino Leadership Development Initiative is welcome to contact CoSW development officer Sarah Wells at (803) 777-3902 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Learn more about ways to support the CoSW here.

Thinking like a Social Worker

04.05.2016

CoSW faculty Terry Wolfer and Melissa Reitmeier will present the inaugural Case Method Training Institute July 20-23, 2016. The purpose of this training institute is to equip social workers, educators and field instructors to foster critical thinking and problem solving skills. Case method teaching requires active participation, application of relevant theory and the generation and evaluation of solutions. Dr. Wolfer, CoSW PhD Program Coordinator, has co-edited or coauthored six collections of decision cases, including most recently Decision Cases for Advanced Social Work Practice: Confronting Complexity. Dr. Reitmeier, Director of CoSW Field Education, has taught the case-based MSW capstone course for 12 years, authored several decision cases, and conducted research on learning outcomes of case method teaching.

This Training Institute qualifies for 15 CEUs. For additional information and registrations, click here.

field nov story10.31.2016

Working in the field is an important part of the curriculum for MSW students. According to Director of Field Education and Clinical Associate Professor Melissa Reitmeier, in a field placement “there’s a lot of opportunity for students to learn about a client and the multiple systems that impact them,” and this allows students to “apply the theory, values, and knowledge” from the classroom. The College of Social Work boasts over five hundred connections to community organizations across South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. Here is a look at just a few ways CoSW students are learning and serving out in the field.

Kershaw County High Schools and Richland School District Two are field sites where CoSW interns are improving their social work practice and helping families. Camden and Lugoff-Elgin High Schools in Kershaw County offer an interdisciplinary setting. The graduate students placed here have the opportunity to interact with mental health providers, school counselors, teachers, school staff, families, and students. Their role, explains field instructor Dr. Candice Morgan, “is to provide the support for human services” while also implementing the Aspire program developed by Dr. Aidyn Iachini.

Aspire is a nine-lesson program designed to assist ninth graders who are at risk for dropping out of school. The program incorporates motivational interviewing (MI) and skill building in order to support these students in making the positive changes they envision for themselves. Iachini and Professor Rhonda DiNovo provide forty hours of training in MI to prepare students for working in this placement, followed by conducting role plays in which students receive personalized feedback on their MI skills. Once the students are working on-site, they work in concert with school counselors, principals, and others to determine which ninth graders would be a good fit for the Aspire intervention. Iachini explains that the program is structured thusly: “the first four lessons are the clinician/CoSW intern getting to know the high school students, their values, what they care about, what they think they’re doing well in school, and areas where they’d like to see improvement.” After fostering a conversation with the high schoolers, the CoSW intern helps the students develop change plans with feasible goals and then monitors their progress.

At Richland Two, CoSW student Ashley Clay works on-campus but off-site, rather than in the school building like at Camden. Morgan says that this placement is a “very focused behavioral health setting” in which the graduate students provide individual counseling services (with supervision) to parents and students. Clay values the opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary setting, stating that she has “learned several techniques from the counselors that I used that are very helpful in my practice,” and she believes that having this experience will serve her well post-graduation. “Before I was always social work, social work,” says Clay, “but to do our jobs effectively sometimes we have to work with others that have different backgrounds and perspectives. At my field placement I get a well-rounded experience.”

Another unique field placement is at the Free Medical Clinic, and Keisha Magee is currently working there. “I really admire the staff at the Free Medical Clinic because they donate their time to help those in need,” says Magee, who values the opportunities for networking and creative thinking offered by the Clinic. Her placement has allowed her to directly help those in need. “Recently, I was able to contact an agency and receive a donated CPAP machine for a patient at the clinic,” she says, and she's been able to assist patients with finding eye care, dental care, and meals. “Being able to collaborate with other professionals to treat the person as a ‘whole’ in order to improve patient care is very important to me,” notes Magee, and her placement here has fostered an interest in medical social work.

A good field placement “needs to develop core competencies for our students,” says Reitmeier, which means “unique and varied opportunities to achieve mastery.” Field placements in the CoSW can offer hands-on experience, exposure to other disciplines, and inspiration for career goals. Morgan is grateful for the field office’s support in supervising these unique placements and “making sure that the students and myself feel confident that the student will make autonomous decisions and feel comfortable enough to call and ask for guidance as they need it.” Iachini notes that CoSW students also “have access to a lot of faculty to support their learning and skill development.” Iachini, Morgan, DiNovo, and Andy Flaherty, as well as an on-site field preceptor and field liaison, all work together to facilitate the Kershaw County Schools placement. According to Morgan, the goal is for every CoSW student “to work autonomously as a social worker will in the field,” ensuring that each graduate of the program is ready to effect positive change in every possible client system.

 

india03.10.2016

A new study abroad program recently returned from India, and the 15 students and 2 faculty involved will treasure the experience for a lifetime. Dr. Melissa Reitmeier, Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of Field Education, calls it “a life-changing experience on so many levels” and “an intellectual opportunity.”

The program is the result of an ongoing cultural exchange between Maharaja Sayajirao (M.S.) University of Baroda in Gujrarat, India, and the College of Social Work under the leadership of Dean Anna Scheyett. Last year, Professors Bhavna Mehta and M. N. Parmar visited USC thanks to a Provost’s Visiting Scholars grant. During their visit, they expressed interest in developing field placements, and a study abroad program was offered as a first step. Clinical Assistant Professor and program leader Sudie Nallo was able to visit India previously on grant from the Walker Institute of International and Area Studies, and she hopes that USC’s relationship with the M. S. University continues beyond these grants. “I hope these students will be ambassadors” and enable an ongoing relationship, she says. Reitmeier joined Nallo as an additional faculty member to supervise the students and to assess what global field and service learning opportunities for social work practice might exist. She was also there to identify and encourage collaborations between faculty with similar research interests.

india1According to Nallo and Reitmeier, India offers social work students a new perspective, not only on how to solve social problems but what constitute social problems in the first place. India’s population is so huge, explains Reitmeier, that the size of the population results in an approach to solving social problems that is at times “more progressive and innovative even than ours.”

Each morning, students attended lectures at the M. S. University and then went on observations in the afternoons. Students were able to draw fruitful comparisons between the cultural and social problems addressed in the lectures and what they are learning back home. For example, one lecture dealt with the topic of domestic violence, and students noted that both India and South Carolina have high rates of domestic violence and were able to view an issue with which they have some familiarity through a different lens. Nallo says she “implored students not to see India as different, and challenged them to see similarities.”

india2Students were able to observe social work in a variety of contexts, including a hospital, a vocational school, an ashram, and the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). At SEWA, students toured both the factory and the store run by the women. At the Muni Seva Ashram, students visited a day care, a nursing school, an obstetric/gynecological clinic, and a home for the elderly. Students also visited Gandhi’s home and the Akshardham, a grand Hindu temple.

The trip made an indelible impact on everyone. Allison Volk, a second-year MSW student, says visiting rural villages and seeing the passion of the social work practitioners “made me want to be more pro-active and fight for things” when necessary. Student Briannea Hastie agrees, noting that, comparatively, “we have so many privileges and resources” here in the United States that we should not hesitate when faced with barriers.

Reitmeier’s favorite part of the trip was seeing students’ personal and professional growth: “It really was a life-changing experience in terms of having the opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture but within the same profession—we’re all working toward the same thing.” Donna Dixon, also a second-year MSW student, agrees that “we all kind of approach social issues the same way,” and for her this realization was incredibly inspiring. “We’re not alone” in wanting to change the world, she says. “They’re working, too.”

Plans are already underway to offer the program next winter, while the first cohort eagerly anticipates a reunion soon.

09.22.2016

The Fall semester began a few weeks ago bringing new students, new challenges and new opportunities. One such opportunity, that also happens to be a challenge, is the CoSW search for a new, full-time dean. We are pleased to have the Parker Executive Search Firm directing the search and Dr. Thomas Chandler, Dean of the School of Public Health, serve as the search committee chair. The committee is comprised of CoSW faculty, staff, students, donors and alums, along with University officials. For additional information, please see the official position description here.

Carla Damron book cover03.10.2016

The Stone Necklace might not feature a social worker character, but Carla Damron’s background in the field nonetheless informs her writing. Damron, an alumna of the USC College of Social Work’s MSW program, is the author of the Caleb Knowles books which follow a clinical social worker as he solves mysteries, so her most recent novel is a bit of a departure.

The Stone Necklace is set in Columbia, SC, and follows the intersecting lives of a diverse cast of characters, including a nurse, a homeless man, and a teenage girl. Just published in February, The Stone Necklace has already received acclaim: in addition to being called “masterful” by renowned author Pat Conroy, the novel was selected for the One Book, One Community initiative this year. The purpose of One Book, One Community is to engage Richland County residents by reading a book together, generating discussion, and participating in events centered on the book.

As this year’s One Book selection, The Stone Necklace has been serialized in The State newspaper and been the focus of numerous cultural events. Damron recalls being shocked by the first book event, held at a small library branch. She expected perhaps a dozen people, but almost 100 showed up. The purpose of One Book is to bring a community together, and Damron feels that the One Book organizers have been incredibly creative in this regard, sponsoring an improv night, a jewelry-making class, and a photography show, in which three photographers captured images of people and locations around Columbia inspired by the novel.

In addition to staying busy with One Book events, Damron serves as the Executive Director of the South Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-SC). Prior to her role with NASW-SC, Damron worked at the Department of Mental Health. Her experience as a social worker informs both the content of her writing and the ways in which she approaches the writing process. “Because I’ve worked in mental health for so long,” she explains, “I use the same approach I use when I work with clients in working with the characters” in order to create fully-realized people with compelling back stories and motivations. With The Stone Necklace, Damron wanted to pull from her social work knowledge and write about recovery. “I’m a great believer in recovery,” she says, “so that was a thread I wanted to be there.” As it turns out, the main characters of The Stone Necklace “are all dealing with their own recovery story in one way or another.”

Social work informs Damron’s writing, but is the reverse true? Damron’s work with NASW-SC requires a variety of writing, including editorials, newsletter articles, and letters. The work of advocacy, in short, demands a good writer. Damron believes that writing, whether a novel or case notes, “teaches you to think creatively and problem-solve creatively.”

Creativity is an aspect of social work that Damron appreciates. “One thing I love about social work is that it’s such a wide field,” she says. “There’s so many different things you can do,” she notes, running through the various roles she’s held over the years, including counselor, therapist, program manager, and administrator. For now, though, she’s happy as a novelist/advocate, using her gift with words to make a difference: “I feel like it’s my job to be a voice for all of South Carolina’s social workers and the clients we serve.”

09.22.2016

Julie SmithwickJulie Smithwick, a 2005 MSW graduate, is the founder and director of PASOs at USC’s Arnold School for Public Health. PASOs, which means steps, provides culturally responsive health education, services and navigational guidance to about 8,500 Latinos a year in 29 of the Palmetto State’s 46 counties. Learn more about the program here.

 

IMG 139903.10.2016

Dr. Sue Levkoff is the recent recipient of an R25 grant from the National Institute on Aging, one of the institutes of the National Institutes of Health. An R25 grant, she explains, is a research education grant, and this one will allow her to provide undergraduate students from five historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in South Carolina with research training in aging, medicine, and STEM at UofSC. Levkoff has the active involvement of several UofSC faculty including: Dr. Alan White, Associate Dean for Undergraduate STEM Education for the College of Arts and Sciences, who has been a leader in the field of science education and will help ensure that the training program meets the educational needs of the participating students; Dr. Jenay Beer, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Sciences and Engineering and College of Social Work; Dr. Shaun Owens, Assistant Professor in the College of Social Work; Sudie Nallo, Clinical Assistant Professor in the College of Social Work; and Dr. Lauren Clark, Research Manager in the UofSC Office of Research. A long-time colleague of Levkoff from Harvard Medical School, Dr. Hongtu Chen, serves as the outside evaluator for the program.

IMG 1406The overall goal of the SC-ADAR program is to increase the number of qualified underrepresented racial and ethnic minority students who pursue scientific graduate studies in programs focused on science and aging. The components of the SC-ADAR include: two ten-week summer research training programs, in which selected students will work in a lab under the mentorship of a UofSC faculty member, participate in courses developed specifically for the program to introduce students to the basic biological and social theories of aging, attend professional development seminars offered by the UofSC Office of Research, and engage in networking events with other students participating in summer National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates programs at UofSC. The summer program is a full-time residential program, with students being paid a stipend and living in campus housing. The SC-ADAR summer will culminate in a poster presentation at UofSC Summer Research Day.

IMG 1394Levkoff cites the valuable input of coordinators at the HBCUs in nominating students to apply for the program. After a competitive application process, a cohort of eight students, hailing from Allen University, Benedict College, Claflin University, and Morris College, was chosen. Eight new students will be selected each year for the five years covered by the R25 grant funding.

The SC-ADAR is “completely interdisciplinary,” which is Levkoff’s modus operandi. “For over 30 years as a social scientist faculty member at Harvard Medical School, I have collaborated with physicians on various research studies and educational training programs,” she says, so she’s accustomed to, and enjoys working with, people in other fields. “The opportunity with the SC-ADAR is to take those interdisciplinary skills, working across disciplines and bringing people together” and turn them into wonderful research training opportunities. Levkoff reached out to many UofSC schools and departments, including medicine, nursing, public health, and computer science and engineering, in order to identify research mentors willing to accept students into their labs and offer them experiences in research. From the resulting list of faculty labs, students were able to choose what interested them most. The matching process ensures that students are paired with a project and mentor that best fit their interests and goals; likewise, it allows faculty members to choose students who they believe would be the best fit for their lab.

The program extends past the two summer research experiences, though. Levkoff explains, “each student has two co-mentors, one at UofSC who will serve as the primary mentor during the summer research training, and one at the HBCU, who will serve as the primary mentor during the academic year between the two summer sessions.” When students return to their home institutions for their junior year, they will meet with their HBCU mentors, who will serve as “cheerleaders” to encourage the students’ sustained interest and enthusiasm in research and in pursuing graduate school education in the sciences or health professions. The HBCU mentors will also offer hands-on support with the application process for graduate training, all of which Levkoff hopes will lead to students pursuing careers in academic medicine and/or STEM fields as they relate to aging. Levkoff is especially proud of the proposed co-mentoring model, and hopes that those HBCU co-mentors who wish to collaborate on aging –related research with UofSC mentors will have the support to do so through the SC-ADAR program.

Providing this training in research is a calling for Dr. Levkoff. She notes that although her focus is primarily research, “I see myself as an educator, and the most important thing I can do as a professor is train the next generation.” She cites the immense privilege of having a strong educational background as her motivation. “It’s my turn to give back,” she says, and ensure that minority students have access to the mentors, education, and research opportunities that they might not otherwise have.

08.26.2016

SERG logoSERG: Student Empowerment Resource Group is a new initiative comprised of faculty and staff who were concerned about CoSW students. In true social work fashion, faculty and staff want to ensure that students have a strong foundation so that they can succeed in school.

Deborah Duvall and Sudie Nallo are currently co-chairs of SERG. Nallo, a clinical professor, explains that after the disastrous flooding in October, CoSW faculty and staff came to realize that students have crises that may overwhelm them and affect their academic success. SERG is meant to support those students.

“I think all of us have had students who have come to our attention,” says Duvall, assistant to the dean. She’s been surprised and dismayed to learn of CoSW students who struggle to pay rent, who are not eating well, who experience a medical emergency, or who are taking care of disabled or impoverished relatives. One student needed an emergency loan to keep from being evicted; another student couldn’t afford a much-needed flash drive. CoSW faculty and staff decided that they could provide “a better developed resource base” for serving students in need.

According to Nallo, CoSW faculty and staff “were presented with this opportunity to address one of the issues we saw play out in the real-world, affecting our students’ abilities to successfully matriculate.” As a clinical professor, Nallo feels that SERG “would be the most ideal place that I could be of service to the college,” connecting resource opportunities that help get students to graduation.

serg fall2016“Faculty and staff got together and began meeting every other week,” says Duvall. Then they invited students to come share their needs. The result? So far, SERG has facilitated the installation of a charging station in Hamilton for charging phones, laptops, and other devices; hosted a self-care workshop about mindfulness; and established a supply closet with pens, ponchos, and other items for students to ensure they are prepared and ready to succeed.

Duvall notes that the chief goal of SERG is to “create a safe space” for students in need to come forward and ask for help and not be embarrassed, saying, “we have students who have worked so hard to get here, and we want this to be successful for them.”

SERG’s goals for next year include increasing visibility, hosting workshops, and working on an online resource tool. SERG currently has an online portal which serves as a hub for students to locate resources for tutoring, meals, housing, interviewing, and more. Additionally, faculty can log in to the portal to make referrals. Having these sorts of resources readily available for students in need “can be the difference between passing and failing,” explains Nallo, so a key goal for SERG in the next year will be refining and expanding that portal.

Also in the coming year, SERG will host a variety of educational opportunities, including a financial literacy workshop to inform students about budgeting and how to make financial decisions should a crisis occur. “We want to have high impact training events that provide the students with skills they can apply in their day-to-day life,” says Nallo.

The key message that Nallo wants students to know is this: “Support is available through the College of Social Work to help you successfully graduate and achieve your career goals.”

03.29.2016

Kyunghee MaKyunghee Ma, a CoSW PhD student, has received two grants to further her research, “Acculturation Stress and Depression among International Students from China and India at the University of South Carolina” from the USC Office of Research and the Shorelight Education Research Project. Ms. Ma’s research explores the relationship between acculturation stress and depression among first-year international students from China and India at USC and also examines the moderating impact of social support on depression. Her studies focus on students from collectivist Asian cultures because these students are more vulnerable to the negative impact of acculturation stress on mental health due to cultural emphasis on internal regulations and stigma associated with mental illness.
 
The USC Office of Research sponsors the Support to Promote Advancement of Research and Creativity (SPARC) grant to provide funding but also to give students the experience of preparing a competitive grant application. The Shorelight Education Research Project is a pilot effort to encourage research about international student success at our partner universities. This is the inaugural distribution of funds.

08.29.2016

newman povertyA group of CoSW faculty and staff recently completed Poverty Factor Training, a series presented by the I. DeQuincey Newman Institute for Peace and Social Justice and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina. A diverse group of faculty and staff completed the four module series, and they now have seals to place on their doors that recognize them as “resource advocates.” This designation indicates that they are willing and able to point students toward resources.

The impetus for the training was increasing concern about some students’ unique challenges. According to CoSW professor and Newman Institute Director Ronald Pitner, “last year, our Dean approached faculty a few times about students who were having financial challenges,” and she was “concerned about what we as a college could do to help.” This discussion resulted in the formation of the Student Empowerment Resource Group (SERG) and prompted faculty to “think of ourselves as first responders to students,” says Pitner, and to “make sure that we are more cognizant of the ways that students are affected by poverty.” Tom Keith, President of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, sees this partnership with the CoSW “as a first step in helping to further educate faculty and staff at UofSC about poverty. Poverty is everywhere and we often don't see it or understand it.”

Helping lead the charge was Katrina Spigner, the Consultant for Community Engagement for the Newman Institute and President and CEO of Re-Source Solutions. Before taking on these roles, she worked for the Sisters of Charity Foundation and developed educational programming for non-profits across South Carolina under the auspices of Carolina Academy. In 2014, she piloted a training on generational and situational poverty for teachers in the Richland 2 School District. “It far exceeded what we expected,” she says, and “teachers had tremendous ‘a-ha’ moments.” Poverty Factor Training is “designed to push you past your thinking into a different way of perceiving people who live in poverty.”

Poverty Factor Training is successful because it is customized to the audience. The first day of the Poverty Factor Training consisted of an icebreaker in which participants identified goals that would shape the following days of training. The experiential lessons that followed also presented a special opportunity for faculty and staff to come together to have difficult discussions about the challenges faced by students coming from generational poverty.

Participants examined the mindsets of people who live in wealth, live in the middle class, and live in poverty, explains Spigner, considering issues based on each of those mindsets. “How does a person who lives in wealth think about education, or friendships, or community, or education?” asks Spigner, and how does that compare to the mindset of someone living in middle class or poverty? “For example, for someone living in wealth, the question is not going to college,” she suggests, but which Ivy League institution is the best fit. For middle class individuals, the question may be how to ensure scholarships. For people in poverty, “college is often not even on the radar,” says Spigner. It’s important to examine topics like education from these different perspectives since so many of our institutions are situated from a middle class perspective, she explains.

Poverty Factor Training “exposes faculty and staff to the many dimensions of poverty that exist today,” says Keith, expressing gratitude for the CoSW “for embracing this effort and making it a success.” Pitner hopes that more faculty and staff will complete the training. “Our ultimate goal is for us to conduct the Poverty Factor Training again, not only within our college but also with different entities on campus,” he says, and Spigner confirms plans for a training in the spring semester. Spigner affirms that the Newman Institute’s goal with Poverty Factor Training “wasn’t just to keep it within the walls of the College of Social Work, but to offer it wherever there was an opportunity.”

An upcoming training will be tailored to school nurses in Lancaster, SC. Poverty Factor Training “is appropriate for any person, any vocation, that is in a helping vocation” says Spigner. Hopefully, Poverty Factor Training will continue spreading the message about how students are affected by poverty and how to address it in a productive and empathetic manner. As Spigner reminds us, “poverty has no face; it could be anybody,” and now the CoSW will be better prepared to meet their needs.

03.21.2016

astrid casasolaCoSW is pleased to congratulate Ms. Astrid Casasola, a senior in our baccalaureate social work program, on winning the 2016 Outstanding BSW Student by the NASW-SC. Ms. Casasola has a strong cumulative GPA, and has been on the Dean’s list every semester at USC-Columbia since fall 2012.  Among her many community outreach interests, she is a founding member of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, a service-based organization that strives to establish a sisterhood that is passionate about providing service. Dr. Dan Freedman describes Ms. Casasola as “one of the most compassionate, motivated, and intelligent students I have ever taught.” The award will be presented during the Town Hall meeting of the NASW-SC spring symposium, March 21-23, in Columbia, SC. 

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08.29.2016

Korea TableFaculty members spent the summer across the globe: they presented research in Vietnam, taught in our Korea-based MSW program, participated in a new study abroad program in Costa Rica, and initiated a graduate certificate program in Korea. Their work expanded the CoSW’s international reach, which already includes study abroad experiences in India and Vietnam.

This year marked the second international conference on the topic of school social work co-hosted by the UofSC CoSW and the Hanoi National University of Education. Faculty members Aidyn Iachini, Huong Nguyen, Melissa Reitmeier, Kristina Webber, and Terry Wolfer gave presentations on their current research and attended a workshop. Nguyen notes that presenting research abroad has special benefits for research: “Presenting research in Vietnam is important for our faculty to extend the impact of their scholarship to a country that is making historic development in social work. It also expands our faculty’s experiences in terms of how to modify and adapt American concepts and models of social work practices into a country with very different political, economic, social, and cultural context.”

Nguyen notes that “there is a lot for social work scholars in Vietnam and the U.S to learn from each other.” Vietnamese social work researchers gain insight into evidence-based practices used in the U.S., Nguyen explains, whereas U.S. scholars can learn about the way in which Vietnamese social workers are trained, “including a very different curriculum decided nationally by the central government, different structures for field education, and also different ways to connect social work schools with field settings.” By going to Vietnam to learn and share, our faculty have even more unique insights to the field that they can bring into the classroom.

Some students benefitted directly from cultural exchange this summer. Professor Ben Roth was one of five UofSC faculty members to lead a new study abroad program in Costa Rica this past May. The program, which centered on the issue of global health, included courses in Spanish, public health, and geography. Students were constantly immersed in Costa Rican life, staying with local host families in San Juan.

Roth taught “Social Welfare Institutions, Policies, and Programs,” which offered an in-depth look at the history and evolution of the social welfare state. Students read about U.S. social programs and then saw Costa Rican programs and institutions firsthand, a particularly “refreshing way to approach the content,” explains Roth. He notes that the “comparative nature of the service-learning aspect enhanced their understanding” in a unique way. Students spent their service-learning hours in a range of institutions, including a state-run psychiatric hospital, a state-run nursing home, and a clinic that provides services to people with HIV.

For Roth, seeing his students gain extensive knowledge and develop analytical tools for processing that knowledge is one of the best parts about teaching abroad. “The most rewarding aspect of the trip for me was debriefing with students after their service-learning experiences,” he says, allowing him “a window into how the overall experience was influencing them intellectually and personally.” The “USC in Costa Rica: Global Health” program will be offered Maymester 2017 as well.

In addition to participating in this new study abroad opportunity in Costa Rica, the CoSW continues to boast a strong outpost of the MSW program in Korea. This summer was Professor Candice Morgan’s fourth time teaching in the Korean MSW program, and she hopes it won’t be her last. “I always have a very rewarding time over there,” she says, and her time with her Korean students has positively influenced her interactions with her American students.

This summer, Morgan taught a course focusing on community social work with the goal of training students “who are interested in community organizing to be able to analyze the issues and to develop a way to respond to the issues with the idea of making positive social change.” When she teaches similar content here in Columbia, she often starts with the abolitionist movement, “big historical moments,” she explains, so teaching in Korea provides an exciting challenge to re-contextualize the material. “When you go over there [to Korea] to teach, you learn your subject from a different point of view,” and this makes her a stronger teacher as a result.

Social work students in Korea also have a new opportunity for learning from the CoSW’s excellent faculty. In coordination with Namseoul University, the CoSW now offers a graduate certificate in addiction studies. Nancy Brown, Director of the Graduate Certificate in Drug and Addiction Studies, hopes that this new program will both prepare students for working in the field and help the Korean social work community advocate for themselves. The inaugural cohort of 15 will complete coursework and a field placement.

Brown wants to see addiction programs “expanding treatment and making it accessible,” and she believes training social workers in this certificate program will make a difference. “Being part of improving treatment, whether it’s here [in South Carolina] or in Korea has been my goal as a social work educator and counselor,” says Brown, and the new program with Namseoul University is an important step in furthering that goal.

Our faculty are making an impact at home and abroad, building relationships and having experiences that will shape their research and teaching. As a result, the CoSW continues to have an international reach that makes it truly unique.

03.10.2016

WKD2016CoSW faculty member Dr. Teri Browne is a Co-Investigator on a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) funded project to provide a model of care that improves the lives of patients with kidney disease and their families. Kidney Prepare Now, which stands for
Providing
Resources to
Enhance
Patients’
And Families’
Readiness to
Engage in Kidney Care
Break the News
Review your Options
Weigh the Pros and Cons,
puts patients at the center of their care. The five year study seeks to improve the care patients receive as they transition through stages of kidney disease toward kidney failure and study whether these changes lead to improved patient health and well-being. For additional information on Kidney Prepare Now, visit www.kidneypreparenow.org.

08.25.2016

CoSW faculty Dr. Christine Andrews will present at the 16th Annual Social Work Conference: Current Information & Techniques in SW on Friday, September 23, 2016. Held at the Daniel Island Club, the conference attracts social workers across the state interested in the latest education and techniques in social work practice. Dr. Andrews will present "An Overview of the Affordable Care Act and What It Means for Social Work." To register for the conference, click here.

 

03.08.2016

Andrews CThe College of Social Work (CoSW) is pleased to announce that Dr. Christina Andrews' project entitled “Addiction Treatment Medicaid Health Home” recently received funding for a distinguished Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (called a "K01"), funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The purpose of the K01 award is to provide support and “protected time” (three, four, or five years) for an intensive, supervised career development experience in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences leading to research independence. For the next five years, Dr. Andrews will assess the impact of health homes on enrollment of eligible Medicaid beneficiaries who need addiction treatment, as well as the use and costs of addiction treatment and acute care for addiction-related conditions.

The Co-PIs for the project are John Brooks and Dr. Janice Probst, both from UofSC Health Services Policy and Management.

The UofSC has been awarded a total of seven K01 awards, and the CoSW has received two of these prestigious awards. Dr. Nikki Wooten also currently has a K01 award for a project entitled “Behavioral Health Care in Army Warrior Transition Units.”

07.12.2016

Associate Professor Dr. Teri Browne will lead the National Kidney Foundation Patient Centered Outcomes Research Stakeholders’ Conference. The conference will bring together 100 patients, caregivers, stakeholders and academics to identify patient-centered research priorities—and challenges—for kidney disease. Facilitated by both a patient and researcher, the conference will feature patient, caregiver and researcher panel discussions and break-out group sessions. Attendees will gain insight into the experiences of patients, caregivers and researchers; learn more about the importance of patient centered outcomes research (PCOR), and identify best practice strategies for actively engaging patients in kidney disease research.

As part of NKF’s commitment to the Stakeholders’ Conference the foundation will provide a minimum of $40,000 towards funding a 2018 Kidney Disease Patient Centered Research Grant that will focus on the top kidney disease priorities identified by patients at the Conference. Funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award, the Stakeholders’ Conference will be held in conjunction with the National Kidney Foundation Spring Clinical Meetings in Orlando in April, 2017. If you have questions, or are interested in participating in the Conference, please visit www.kidney.org/pcori.

03.07.2016

More and more social workers, nurses, counselors, clergy, teachers and other community partners will encounter military members in their professional and personal lives.

The College of Social Work and Continuing Education and Conferences have partnered to present Military Matters, a self-paced online certificate program for anyone working with military personnel, family members and/or veterans. This 10 course program teaches military culture, health and mental health, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, substance issues, and special populations. Taught by CoSW faculty Dr. Nancy Brown, participants may register for the certificate or choose individual courses. For additional information or to register for Military Matters, please click here.

07.12.2016

natalie miltonFamily Footprint, a nonprofit founded by 2016 MSW graduate Natalie Milom, received a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide middle to high skill advanced manufacturing training to parents and quality child care in the same location.  The grant also provides case management, soft skills training, paid work experience, and assistance with employment placement.

Family Footprint utilizes a two-generation approach to partner with families to provide pathways out of poverty with particular attention to early childhood development, health, social supports, employment pathways, and asset-building.  Collaborating with Help Me Grow SC, BabyNet, and SC Thrive, the organization ensures that the children receive all the supports needed to encourage healthy development and ensure that they are ready for Kindergarten and excel in school.  Family Footprint also serves as a Benefit Bank site to ensure parents can access the supports needed to stabilize as they work towards self-sufficiency.  They are also collaborating with various community agencies to help clients build assets and increase financial literacy skills.

family footprint logo

IMG 299002.28.2015

On February 25, the College of Social Work and the I. Dequincy Newman Institute for Peace and Social Justice welcomed the community to a night of listening, laughter and even tears. The Spigner House was full of interested attendees, colleagues, and family and friends of Patrick Patterson, President of Global Partners for Fathers and Family Consulting, LLC and South Carolina native.

Patterson, who has his dual Masters in Social Work and Public Health from the University of South Carolina, delivered a heartfelt presentation called “5 Habits of Good Fathers that Build Strong Families.”

He unapologetically revealed the most influential moments and people in his life while providing the audience with stories, tips and motivation to build a strong foundation for their families, children, and futures.

As a man who understands the influence of having a father present in his life and not having a father present in his life, Patterson has made it his mission for the past 20 years to work with fathers to strengthen their families.

“I work with fathers not to help them, but in hopes to help their children,” Patterson said. “I hope my work is a reflection of the people who influenced me in my life.”

Not only does he aim to help fathers create a better life for their sons and daughters, he has also recently taken local initiatives to help boys become respectful men who may one day become role-model fathers for their children.

Last year, Patterson, his brother and about 10 other people including Dean Scheyett, hosted a Conference for Black Men and Boys in South Carolina. With a goal of just 200 attendees, they exceeded that goal by achieving 600 attendees.

“This year, by popular demand, we are doing it again,” Patterson said. “The legacy lives on.”

They will be hosting their second annual Conference for Black Men and Boys on September 10 at the Double Tree Hotel in Columbia, SC.

Before the conference on April 30, there will be a Fatherhood Awards Breakfast where they hope to raise $10,000 to award as scholarships to boys at the conference.

They will honor five men at the breakfast: Tom Keith, President of Sisters of Charity of South Carolina; Archie Lattimore, Marcus Lattimore’s father; Dr. David Swinton, 13th President of Benedict College; James Patterson Jr., Patterson’s brother; and Frank Martin, USC men’s basketball coach.

The I. DeQuincey Newman Institute for Peace and Social Justice seeks to continue the mission of Reverend I. DeQuincey Newman by promoting social justice through interdisciplinary education, consultation, and research at the community, state, national, and international levels. To that end, the Newman Institute serves as a resource and advocates for underserved populations in South Carolina.  For 10 years, the Newman Lecture has brought together social work practitioners, researchers, academics and community members for a grassroots dialogue.  

Dean Anna Scheyett closed the discussion by honoring Patterson’s strength and ability to use his life experience to help others better their lives.

“The word that kept coming to mind was ‘miracle’,” Dean Scheyett said. “The miracle of laughter, the miracle of forgiving, family, and love. Thank you for sharing the miracle of calling.”

 

07.07.2016
Republished from the Arnold School of Public Health

corey bradleyDual degree (MSW/MPH) alumnus Cory Bradley is making a name for himself in the areas of community mobilization and social change—most recently evidenced with an invitation to serve on a racism and health panel.

Cory Bradley’s journey to become an emerging expert in community mobilization and social change can be traced back to his childhood, but it can’t be defined by geography. The two-time USC graduate (Master of Social Work (MSW)/Master of Public Health (MPH) in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior (HPEB) dual degree program) and current doctoral student at John Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health grew up in Dallas, but it was the many summers he spent with his grandparents in rural Arkansas that most influenced who he is today.

The daughter of sharecroppers, Bradley’s mother grew up as one of 14 children and only went to school when it rained because they couldn’t work in the fields. She has since earned her own college degree, but Bradley insists that his story began with hers and that of his grandparents. “When someone asks where I’m from, I don’t just think geographically,” he explains. “I also locate the cultural, historical and social oppression space from which I have emerged to arrive at this point in my life. It’s pretty powerful to consider all of these factors.”

After graduating from Morehouse College with a bachelor’s degree in 2001, Bradley spent 11 years as an associate pastor with an emphasis on community mobilization and outreach and community development. Thirsty for knowledge, training, and theory to support his experience in these areas, Carolina’s dual degree MSW/MPH program combined these interests.

“Danita Hall, a premier student recruiter for the College of Social Work, helped me see the potential and opportunity of these degrees,” says Bradley. “The dual program was the perfect blend for crafting my particular approach to my interest areas and my contribution to the world through the lenses of these disciplines.”

Engage Bmore 485During his programs, Bradley encountered supportive mentors through both his social work (e.g., Danita Hall, Frances Spann, Rushondra James, Maryah Fram, and Eunika Simmons) and public health (e.g., Debbie Billings, Ed Frongillo, Lucy Annang Ingram, Stacy Smallwood) programs who helped him further his ideas and encouraged him to pursue a Ph.D. after his 2014 graduation. In particular, he remembers the two interactions that shifted his path toward a doctoral degree. After asking students about their career plans, Fram was adamant that Bradley continue his education. Shortly thereafter, he found himself enraptured by a community health course taught by Billings. At the end of the course, she told Bradley that he should definitely pursue a doctoral degree. “These two interactions demonstrate how significant and imperative it is for professors to be invested in their students,” say Bradley. “And with their encouragement, I had confidence that was something I actually could achieve.”

In choosing his doctoral program in public health at Johns Hopkins, which is located in Baltimore, Bradley factored in how both the School and the city could complement his growth as a researcher and activist-scholar. Over time, he has cultivated expertise in how community mobilization and power can serve as critical mechanisms to achieve social change and create a space for dialogue that leads people to resist oppressions that disrupt health.

More specifically, Bradley engages these ideas in the study of the sexual health and well-being of black men and black gay men in particular. “My interests relate to exploring structural context and community mobilization in public health strategies,” says Bradley. “Currently, one of my projects looks at the relationship between self-reported sexual identity and the health profiles of black men in the National Health Interview Survey administered by the CDC. Another project examines the structure of social networks of black gay men and other black men who have sex with men in Baltimore City and metropolitan area.”

The overall objective of his research is to examine HIV transmission pathways in the structure of one’s social relationships and to consider the association between access to social capital within social and affiliation networks and outcomes of sexual health and well-being. “I aspire to contribute to the world as a co-constructor of social change using the art of conversation, spirituality, and intellectual inquiry to uncover hidden opportunities and resources that promote healing,” says Bradley.

One of his recent contributions to this effort involved participating in a panel on racism and health during John Hopkins’ 2016 Social Determinants of Health Symposium, which was themed “Race, Racism and Baltimore’s Future: A Focus on Structural and Institutional Racism." Established in 2012, the symposium was created by the Office of the Provost to examine the root causes of health inequities in Baltimore using evidence-based strategies.  

Sitting alongside other panelists who are recognized authorities in identifying causes and solutions to health disparities and health inequity was humbling for Bradley. “I was outranked and outflanked and very much a seedling in this line up, and it was a great honor to stand in the shadow of such prominent voices,” he says. “I think that the location of my experiences in the community as a pastor, my orientation and experiences crystallized by my social work and public health training at USC contributed to my credibility to offer something meaningful to the conversation.”

Still modestly uncertain as to why he was selected to join these experts, Bradley thinks it might have been his reaction to the homicide of Freddie Gray in April of 2015 that set him apart. Together with several other doctoral students, he challenged Bloomberg School leadership to join them in organizing an immediate response in the wake of Gray’s death. “We’ve also formed a student advocacy group to develop assurances that maximize the resources of our institution and profession to engage with the community to confront the structural violence, such as racism, in Baltimore which creates life-limiting opportunities and vulnerability among residents,” says Bradley, who is pictured second from left above along with Bloomberg School Dean Michael Klag (far left), Ph.D. student Kelly King (second from right), and Bradley’s advisor and chair, David Holtgrave (far right). “I’m quite proud of my involvement that was doubtlessly reinforced by personal experiences and the training in the social work and public health disciplines I received during the MSW/MPH dual degree program.”

Looking back, Bradley wouldn’t change his path and recommends the dual program to others with enthusiasm. “Just DO IT!” he says. “It’s a major commitment of both your time and your financial resources; however, I developed friendships with an amazing cohort of other MSW/MPH dual degree students, and we still encourage and celebrate one another to this day.”

He also sees the dual program as a great way for individuals who are interested in developing a capacity to understand and integrate theory in their work. “For those who, either as activist-scholars or practitioners, find the nexus of health and social justice compelling and essential, this program is a great way to explore that and begin putting their ideas together,” Bradley says. “I think the dual degree program provides a great way for students to merge attention to social context and macro kinds of concepts with micro realities. There is a harmony to be struck, and blending those training experiences equips the student to resound that chord in their work ultimately leading to the restoration of power for marginalized communities.”

 

02.23.2016

The College of Social Work (CoSW) is pleased to announce that Dr. Christina Andrews' project entitled “Addiction Treatment Medicaid Health Home” recently received funding for a distinguished Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (called a "K01"), funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The purpose of the K01 award is to provide support and “protected time” (three, four, or five years) for an intensive, supervised career development experience in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences leading to research independence. For the next five years, Dr. Andrews will assess the impact of health homes on enrollment of eligible Medicaid beneficiaries who need addiction treatment, as well as the use and costs of addiction treatment and acute care for addiction-related conditions.

The Co-PIs for the project are John Brooks and Dr. Janice Probst, both from UofSC Health Services Policy and Management.

The UofSC has been awarded a total of seven K01 awards, and the CoSW has received two of these prestigious awards. Dr. Nikki Wooten also currently has a K01 award for a project entitled “Behavioral Health Care in Army Warrior Transition Units.”

Dean harding06.29.2016

Dr. C. Tayloe Harding, Jr., Dean of the School of Music since 2005, will serve as interim dean of the CoSW for the 2016-17 academic year. A passionate advocate for advancing the impact of higher education music study and experience on American communities and national society, Dr. Harding is devoted to an array of national organizations whose missions are consistent with this advocacy and has served in leadership positions with many of these groups. He is a seasoned academic administrator who, while serving as Dean of the School of Music, has acted as Interim Dean for the Honors College and most recently as Associate Provost for Community Engagement. His interest in engagement and outreach to advance the public good make him a perfect temporary fit within the world of social work. To learn more about Dr. Tayloe Harding, please read his biography here.

02.18.2016

Field education is a signature component of social work education. The CoSW Field Education Office works diligently to prepare students for their work in agencies and other field settings, emphasizing professional skills such as interviewing, professional presentation of self, and outreach to potential agencies or employers. The Office recently created videos to help students with interviews for field placements. The videos cover everything from making initial contact with a field agency, interview preparedness, and dress code, to appropriate self-disclosure and answering behavioral questions. Videos are available for view below:

Calling a Prospective Field Organization (3.5 minutes) – staring Allison Crossley, David Firman, Steven Nicolson and Leanna Portera
MSW Intern Interview (8 minutes) – staring Allison Crossley as the MSW student and Jennifer Bosio-McArdle as the Intern Coordinator

06.24.2016
by Deborah Duvall

Several faculty and staff from the CoSW attended the Rally to Stop the Violence on Saturday, June 18, 2016, on the south lawn of the Statehouse. Afterwards, Dr. Maryah Fram and Lynda Tilley joined Dr. Miriam Johnson and me. We gathered briefly after the rally to talk about the impact of the various speakers and the demonstration. We thought Carla Damron, Executive Director for the National Association of Social Workers, South Carolina Chapter, and Steve Benjamin, Columbia’s mayor, were particularly effective. Other scheduled speakers included SC Democratic Women’s Chair Susan Smith, Columbia Urban League President J.T. McLawhorn, President of the Brady Campaign’s Charleston Chapter Merrill Chapman, and Tameika Hunter Ross, whose nephew Rodney Sumter was seriously injured Orlando. We also discussed our concerns for friends and family members who are feeling unsafe as a result of the Orlando shootings.

stop violence before name calledThose attending the rally gathered to promote:

  • Universal background checks, by closing the “Charleston loophole” and gun show loopholes
  • Banning assault weapons in South Carolina
  • Passing a hate crime law in South Carolina

The demonstration at the end was a powerful visual reminder of the 49 people killed in Orlando and our own nine fellow South Carolinians killed in Charleston at Mother Emmanuel Church last year. The “before” photo shows the 49 representatives mirroring the colors of the rainbow flag with a space separating them from the nine Charleston representatives. As their names were read, the representative stood up and then lay down on the steps—as shown in the “after” photo, forcefully illustrating the loss of 58 precious lives to gun violence. John Lennon’s “Imagine” was sung, accompanied by an acoustic guitar, and the crowd was invited to join in. As I sang the words softly I found myself wondering what it will take for our state and national law makers to finally take a stand to stop the violence.

stop violence after name calledAs a social worker, I’m going to focus on encouraging people to get registered and to vote in every election, communicate with legislators, and to take advantage of all opportunities to stand in solidarity at the State House. Please consider joining me.

Link for additional rally information and list of sponsors: http://uptownrising.com/stoptheviolence/  

 

interprofessiona practice experienceSeveral MSW students participated in the 2015 Interprofessional Practice Experience held at the Speech and Hearing Research Center in December.The Experience involved students from several clinical disciplines assessing stroke patients with aphasia – a language disorder – and creating therapeutic interventions. Participating disciplines included Nursing, Physical Therapy, Pharmacy, Social Work and the Communication Sciences & Disorders Speech Pathology program. This approach gave students hands-on experience in both patient assessment and interdisciplinary collaboration.

To learn more about the 2015 Interprofessional Practice Experience, click here.

06.24.2016

The University of South Carolina will hold a memorial tribute for the 49 souls taken in the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando at noon on Wednesday, June 29th 2016 in the Hollings Room of the Thomas Cooper Library.  President Harris Pastides and Provost Joan Gabel will deliver remarks along with other members of the campus community. Several CoSW students and alumni will take part in the memorial tribute. For additional information, please check here.

02.08.2016

SERG logoThe Student Empowerment Resource Group (SERG) is a support network of College of Social Work faculty and staff who seek to develop programs and services that will provide basic crisis prevention and financial management assistance for students in need.  Our goal is to ensure the academic, professional, and social success of our students. We spent the fall semester gathering resources we thought would be helpful and creating an online portal through the Student Login on the CoSW home page. To view, click on Student Login, provide your USC network user name and password. Look for SERG to the far left, in the 2nd row of tabs and click. Please explore and let us know what else you need here.

On Monday, February 1, 2016, we held our first “Keepin’ It Real” open forum to find out what students needed to be successful in our program and to introduce the SERG portal and resources. Pizza and soda were provided to help fuel discussion. Led by Ms. Sudie Nallo, group members included Ms. Felissa Carter-Moore, Ms. Deborah Duvall, Ms. Rushondra James, Dr. Monique Mitchell, Ms. Mosetta Ragin, and Ms. Frances Spann. Dean Anna Scheyett welcomed the students and encouraged them to share openly and honestly about what they need. She emphasized that this was a safe space and all personal experiences would be considered confidential. Many students openly shared their challenges, ideas, and needs for success and we are very grateful for their  insights and contributions. A special thank you to our MSW students for “keepin’ it real!”. Ideas and suggestions will go back to the full group for discussion and implementation where possible.

Stay tuned for the next “Keepin’ It Real” open forum on Monday, February 29, 2016, 12:00-1:00 p.m. in Hamilton 227. We’ll bring back the plans!

06.13.2016

The CoSW extends our condolences and support to those affected by the tragedy in Orlando. We now know that at least one of the wounded has ties to our area. We are here to offer our support and services to those in need in the aftermath of this heartbreak. To read UofSC's comments, click here.

The University of South Carolina Science & Religion Initiative

A conference opportunity for students interested in science and religion is now available. Funding of up to $3,000 will be awarded to 2 students; selected students have the option of attending one, or both of these events, if they so choose.

06.09.2019

The College of Social Work is partnering with the South Carolina Department of Corrections to develop strategies to assist prisoners with mental health problems. Led by Drs. Dana DeHart and Aidyn Iachini, the program will establish a summer institute to train corrections staff and students on how to respond to inmates experiencing mental health issues, including crisis intervention, discharge planning, coordinating care with community providers and working with families of prisoners. With three-year funding by a $400,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant, the training will consist of both classroom and online components with the goal to develop a model for mental health education and training that can be used in prisons nationwide.

 

Mary Ann Priester01.21.2015

Doctoral student Mary Ann Priester was selected by the Office of the Vice President of Research as one of 13 USC Breakthrough Graduate Scholars. This award is given to USC’s most promising graduate students who demonstrate phenomenal commitment to research and scholarly activity. Mary Ann’s research focuses on Adverse Childhood Experiences, and though she is only in her third year of the program she has been incredibly productive. To date she has three journal articles in print, three chapters or articles in press, three manuscripts under review, a SPARC grant from the university, and thirteen presentations at national and international conferences.

06.01.2016

On May 6, 2016, 45 undergraduates and 290 graduates marked the successful conclusion of their degree programs with a celebration at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Students completing dual degree programs this year included one student with the MSW and Juris Doctorate, another with the dual MSW/Master of Public Administration, and six with the MSW/Master of Public Health. Also awarded at the ceremony were Graduate Certificates: 38 Certificates in Drug and Addiction Studies; nine Certificates in Social Work with Military Members, Veterans, and Military Families; and three Certificates in Gerontology. Additionally, seven BSW students earned Graduation with Leadership Distinction.

The MSW graduates were hooded in citron, as is traditional for the conferring for social work graduate degrees, and the BSW graduates wore garnet and gold cords. The undergraduate cording occurred first, followed by a reception for all CoSW students and their guests, and then the graduate hooding.

It was Melvina Ackwood’s third year working on the MSW hooding with Frances Spann, who has coordinated the event for 20 years now. Ackwood says “witnessing the expressions of pride and accomplishment on the faces of the graduates is priceless. Seeing the committee’s hard work materialize makes the day special” emphasizing that hooding is a “celebration rather than a ceremony.”

Rushondra James is a Student Service Coordinator at the CoSW, and she handles the logistics of the undergraduate cording celebration. Students graduating in May, August, or December of 2016 were welcome to participate; James performed a “senior check” last fall for each student to ensure that they were on the road to graduation.

Though administrative staff like Ackwood, James, and Spann are integral to a successful celebration, the day’s events are student-centered. A committee comprised of Student Services Advisors, Program Coordinators, and leaders from student organizations plan the celebration together. Students help choose the graduation speaker and who among the CoSW faculty they would like to perform the hooding and to announce graduates’ names. The cording address was given by Dr. Jeanne Cook, who is the current president of the South Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Workers as well as an alumna of UofSC. The hooding address was given by Dean Anna Scheyett.

The cording and hooding celebrations included faculty and student awards, as well. Students choose the winners of faculty awards, and faculty evaluate academic achievement and leadership qualities in determining the winners of student awards. (A complete list of award winners and of the faculty selected to participate in the cording and hooding can be found at the bottom of this page.)

This year’s recipient of the BSW Student of the Year award, Eric Clark, was “honored” but noted that “there were many other students in the cohort that were just as worthy of recognition.” Aliza Petiwala, MSW Student of the Year for the Columbia campus, also claims that her hardworking peers were just as deserving as she, and cites the supportive faculty and staff at the CoSW. “This is not an award you get by yourself!” she insists.

Graduates are prepared to take on social work in the field and in graduate programs; James has spoken to graduates headed for MSW programs at Temple University, Boston College, and University of Maryland, for example, as well as quite a few staying here at UofSC. Clark is one such student; he is staying at UofSC for the MSW program because the CoSW “has helped to kick start my professional development,” and he is excited to begin a field placement at the Transitions Homelessness Recovery Center and continue his interest in serving individuals experiencing homelessness.

Both award winners reflected on what they most appreciate from their degree programs, highlighting the new knowledge that they will draw upon in their next endeavors. Clark explains why the CoSW was and will continue to be such a great fit for him: “the opportunities that I took advantage of in the CoSW program gave me a well-rounded experience that involved working with clients, meeting new colleagues, developing professional relationships, and even presenting at a NASWsymposium.” Petiwala is moving on and using her knowledge and skills to work in research and policy, but she, too, believes that the graduate program provided her with the tools to succeed, especially a “greater insight into the daily and systemic barriers disadvantaged populations face when trying to access social services that can help pull them out of cyclical poverty.”

Wherever our graduates go next, whether to a graduate program or the field, they will surely effect positive change. The CoSW is pleased to present our 2016 graduates to the world.

BSW Student of the Year: Mr. Eric Clark
MSW Students of the Year:

Ms. Aliza Petiwala (Columbia)

Ms. Brooke Andregic (Charleston)

Ms. Casey Phillips (Greenville)

BSW Outstanding Student in Field: Ms. Rebecca Christopher
MSW Outstanding Student in Field: Ms. Anna Bracknell
BSW Jim Ward Field Instructor of the Year: Dr. Nicole Cavanagh
MSW Jim Ward Field Instructor of the Year: Ms. Deborah Bennett-York
BSW Educator of the Year: Prof. Sudie Nallo
MSW Educator of the Year: Dr. Susan Parlier
Alumni Awards:

Ms. Lenora Bush Reese

Ms. Katherine Watts

Pioneer Award: Ms. Gwen Jobes Hampton
BSW Cording:

Dr. Anna Scheyett

Dr. Miriam Johnson

Dr. Daniel Freedman

Dr. Nicole Cavanagh

Ms. Jennifer Bosio-McArdle

Ms. Rushondra J. James

MSW Hooders

Dr. Nancy Brown

Dr. Nicole Cavanagh

Prof. Rhonda DiNovo

Dr. Candice Morgan

Dr. Susan Parlier

Prof. Eunika Simons

Ms. Fran Burke (Charleston)

Dr. Margriet Wright (Charleston)

Ms. Michelle Scott (Greenville)

Ms. Darlene Levy (Greenville)

MSW Announcers

Dr. Christina Andrews

Dr. Benjamin Roth

01.21.2015

SWTJF16 covJulia Grimm, LMSW, adjunct faculty in the College of Social Work, is featured in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of Social Work Today because of her passion for social work. In “10 Dedicated & Deserving Social Workers,” Grimm describes her work as a Child and Family Therapist at the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center in Charleston as humbling, stating “…being one-on-one with a child who has experienced something horrible, but creating a space where they feel comfortable enough to share those details with you.” She credits her parents for her passion through their examples of kindness and compassion. Grimm shares this passion with our MSW students in her Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families and Small Groups class. To read this article in Social Work Today, click here.

06.01.2016

The second year of a College of Social Work field placement at the Richland County Public Defender’s office has just wrapped up. Three students spent the spring semester in this placement, one of whom was the recipient of a coveted Training For Transitions grant, which is accompanied by a $10,000 stipend. Mary Wilmer, Callie Thomas, and Xavier Bailey benefitted from this unique field experience working under Dr. Aleks Chauhan, Assistant Public Defender, and Dr. Candice Morgan, Training for Transitions Field Seminar Leader and Instructor in the CoSW.

The Richland County Public Defender’s office serves approximately 700 clients each year but had no concrete resources for addressing these young people’s needs, such as housing insecurity or learning disabilities, before the CoSW’s field placement. Morgan spent 17 years as a social worker in the field, including time working with the Department of Mental Health, and she was able to build on previous relationships in the Public Defender’s Office and suggest the benefit of having social workers there to handle the clients whose needs go far beyond a night in jail. The Public Defender’s office and the CoSW turned out to be a great fit: “Social workers can help in many ways in assessment of needs,” Chauhan says, “stepping in and communicating with the family and the child.” She also notes that social workers can assist with direct services, coaching, empowerment, and grant writing.

According to Morgan, this field placement has “allowed the Public Defender’s office to see the need for a social worker,” and see the possibilities when lawyers and social workers are working side by side. Explains Dr. Melissa Reitmeier, director of field education in the CoSW, “we have students working with the juveniles, problem-solving with them,” and identifying resources like mental health or recovery services. The students assist the attorneys and work together to determine the best way to support juvenile offenders.

This placement is not for faint of heart, though: Morgan says that the Public Defender’s office is very fast-paced, and students experience a sharp learning curve. Students must familiarize themselves with court processes in addition to serving as advocates for the youth they serve. Chauhan notes that “this is the real deal” for students—“they get exposure to abuse, lack of resources, systemic problems…things that you read about in books, but in our offices it becomes life.” The students at the Public Defender’s office placement “see the most vulnerable clients,” says Morgan, and this lets them “get a firsthand view” of the criminal justice system. “Students get to see how complex it is to work in family systems,” says Morgan, “and work with attorneys who don’t always see things the way we do” as social workers. Working in an interdisciplinary and interprofessional setting gives MSW students a taste of what it means to work in the social work profession, in which multiple collaborators and stakeholders will not always understand the value of a social worker.

Mary Wilmer and Callie Thomas worked as Youth Advocates this spring, meeting with clients on a weekly basis and connecting them with community programs and resources to help them achieve their goals. Chauhan says that the rapport built between the Youth Advocates and clients matters because “the key to lowering recidivism is not just services, but knowing them [youth] and nurturing them and linking to positive role models; it’s really exciting for me to see that these social work interns are so enthusiastic about the work and so dedicated.”

The Public Defender’s office field placement is “a well-rounded opportunity,” according to Wilmer. She says “I feel like I am being molded into quite a tactful and effective social worker” as result of this field experience. Thomas was finishing the dual degree program in Social Work and Law at the time, and this placement is an ideal fit for dual degree students like her, she says, noting that it combines law, social work, and both micro and macro skills. Thomas also sees the far-reaching impact of her contributions at the Public Defender’s office: “I believe it is paramount, albeit challenging, to assist the adolescents in setting longer term goals for themselves for when they re-enter the community,” and the most important aspect of her work was “to help the adolescents and their families see past the momentary detention, realize that the barrier is only ephemeral, and help them believe in their ability to set and achieve longer term goals.”

Reitmeier states unequivocally, “I love this placement.” One of Reitmeier’s goals is to promote interprofessional teamwork because “social workers bring a unique and special perspective, a more strengths-based perspective that focuses on understanding diversity and resilience.” Social workers are “value-added” on any team, according to Reitmeier, and Chauhan agrees, claiming “I’d love to see a social worker for every child,” because “social work is crucially intertwined with what we can do.”

The students themselves are also pleased with the opportunities at the Public Defender’s office. Xavier Bailey notes that working as Chauhan’s intern taught him not just about social work and the criminal justice system, but also about himself. Watching Chauhan, whom he refers to as “Superwoman,” inspired him each day. “She understands the difference between what is right and what is justice,” he explains, and she made him think more clearly about his role as an advocate for vulnerable populations. Thomas calls her time there “amazing,” stating, “there is no question that this field placement has allowed me to utilize skills acquired in the classroom, continuously critically think about system improvement and program development, and confirms my passion in the field of juvenile justice.”

01.08.2015

Have you ever wondered your daily life at age 75? This is a question that Dr. Jenay Beer often ponders in her work as an engineering psychologist. Beer’s unique field, intersecting science, engineering and social work, was the topic of a recent talk at TEDx Peachtree in Atlanta. Though our population is aging and living longer, most designers do not consider older adults when conceptualizing new technology. In “What Assistive Robots Can Do for Our Retirement,” Beer discusses the importance of technology designed for everyone. With examples including the Personal Robot 2, which can clean the house and deliver medication, and the tele-prescience robot, described as Skype on wheels, Beer explains that Human Robot Interaction (HRI) does not replace seeing someone in person, but can be much more personal than a telephone call. To hear Dr. Beer's Ted talk, click here.

06.01.2016

DeanVertCourtyard 8597As many of you know, this May was a “graduation” of sorts for me as well and my farewell to the University of South Carolina. On June 3rd I will step down as Dean of the College of Social Work and on July 1 I will assume the duties of Dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Georgia.

This move was a difficult decision for me, but the right opportunity for me and for my family, and I am leaving the College in very capable hands. Our Interim Dean for the College will be Dean Tayloe Harding. Dean Harding has prior experience as interim dean of the Honors College and is a good friend to the College of Social Work—I hope you’ll give him a warm welcome and lots of support. The Provost is establishing a search committee and will begin a national search for a permanent dean for the College in the near future.

My five years here at the College have been tremendously rewarding, and I am so proud of the work the faculty, staff, students, and alumni have done. We have hired amazing new faculty and staff, revised our curricula, grown our research, increased our relationships with and impact on the community, and moved into a beautiful new home in Hamilton College. I will always treasure the relationships I’ve developed here at Carolina and in Columbia, and feel very fortunate to have been a part of this wonderful community.

I’m honored to say that a fund has been established, the Anna Scheyett Pay It Forward Fellowship, to provide support for students in financial need, who want to serve populations that struggle with financial insecurity, and who, once they are established professionally, commit to helping other social work students and “paying it forward.” I hope you’ll consider contributing to this fund. Most importantly, I hope each and every one of you will continue to strengthen your connection to the College, to be involved in the excellent work that goes on here, and to continue your support of our students.

Thank you for a rewarding five years and for collaborations and friendships I’ll never forget. I hope you’ll stay in touch (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and visit if you’re ever in the Athens area.

Warmest regards,

Anna Scheyett

Pitner R 350x35011.30.2015

Dr. Ronald Pitner believes that cultural awareness is necessary for social workers, but prefers the term “culturally responsive” to the more common “culturally competent.” “Competent,” he explains, implies that there’s an end in sight, or a level to reach, and then cultural learning ends. In fact, when engaging with culture, “you’re always on, responding to something.”

Pitner teaches SOWK 714, a new course he has co-designed for MSW students. The course builds from the content of SOWK 333: Social Work with Diverse and Oppressed Populations, a required undergraduate course which Pitner created with Dr. Susan Parlier. Pitner undertook research to determine whether learning about diversity was more effective via a dedicated course or spread across the curriculum. “We found that one single course on diversity and social justice increased MSW-level social work students’ level of cultural responsiveness significantly more than curricular infusion of such content.”

“Diversity is something that we see and that we perceive,” he explains. Too often, we stop at “seeing” and miss the crucial work of analyzing how our identities influence our perceptions of others and ourselves. “Seeing” diversity entails acknowledging the seemingly obvious, visible markers of identity, like race or gender. Approaching diversity in this way is what Pitner calls the “cookbook model,” in which there’s a section on each “type.” “You look up the recipe for ‘Native American,’ and then you’re supposed to be knowledgeable—and by extension, culturally competent,” he says. But “the power of diversity is really in how you perceive,” he insists. “Your perception of what it means to be African-American or female influences what you see,” so to attend only to “seeing” diversity means to do so poorly.

As an instructor, Pitner remains vigilant about not settling into a comfort zone of merely “seeing.” While it would be easier for both himself and his students, it doesn’t challenge any perceptions or biases. SOWK 714 “is focused on what you see, but also these perceptions and biases you may have about difference and about your own identities.”

diversity inclusionDiversity and inclusion can be tricky topics, so Pitner begins each semester by establishing ground rules for class discussion. He has a short list prepared and invites students to add as many additional ground rules for discussion as they feel are necessary. He revisits these ground rules throughout the semester, just to check-in to see if students are abiding by the rules they have agreed upon or if additional ones need to be added.

Early on in the semester, Pitner facilitates a reflective exercise that prepares students for the material that follows. Students jot down a list of their own multiple identity categories (gender, sex, race, etc.) and are then faced with the difficult task of thinking about the status connotations of those categories. Pitner provides the following example: “If you label yourself as being female, then what are your perceptions of how society privileges or oppresses you on the basis of that identity?” This can be particularly challenging for students who have never considered their own privileged or oppressed statuses before. A female student may feel very empowered generally, Pitner explains, but when challenged to contend with a female peer who feels oppressed, she must step back and think critically about how dominant ways of thinking may still color the lens she’s looking through.

This class exercise later expands into a paper analyzing students’ own multiple identities, how those identities intersect, and how they perceive that society privileges or oppresses those different identities. This kind of deeply personal work is a key component of studying diversity and inclusion because, as Pitner explains that in order for social workers to “truly meet the client where they are,” they must first examine critically how their own perceptions, biases, and cultural worldviews shape where they think the client “should be.” Pausing to think and reflect this way is true cultural responsivity, and it’s something that all social workers should strive for.

Students can learn about diversity and social justice in Pitner’s classroom, but the class only sets the stage for an ongoing learning process. Pitner hopes that his students become more aware of how their multiple identities intersect and shape their views of diversity, because “being culturally responsive as a social worker is learning how your own worldview might influence how you see and perceive the client.” The course is “about critical awareness, but when students leave, I tell them, it’s a process that’s never-ending,” says Pitner. Valuing diversity is more than a course learning outcome—for social workers, it’s a lifelong journey toward critical consciousness.

Andrew Arnold named volunteer of the year05.05/2016

During the annual Walk-A-Mile-In-Her-Shoes event, hosted by Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM), BSW student Andrew Arnold was honored with the 2016 Volunteer of the Year award.  Arnold initially volunteered in the office but felt compelled to do more after seeing the agency’s work first hand.  As a Volunteer Advocate, Arnold can work directly with survivors of sexual assault including accompanying survivors to local emergency rooms and/or answer calls on the crisis hotline.  He is also active in the agency’s Speakers Bureau, providing education and information to the community at events and health fairs.  Arnold hopes to continue working with the agency and the community to eventually rid our society of sexual assault and abuse.

 

SSWR logo11.30.2015

The College of Social Work will be well-represented at this year’s Society for Social Work Research (SSWR) conference. In an overwhelming display of the dynamic research produced by the CoSW, a group of 25 of our faculty, staff, and graduate students will be presenting research at the 20th annual conference in Washington, D.C. this January.

The number of CoSW presentations accepted by SSWR is truly something special. As Dr. Patricia Sharpe notes, “the SSWR conference is a major national forum” and “the high level of participation from USC is evidence of the CoSW's continued growth in research excellence and national recognition.” Professor Kristina Webber agrees that our participation is significant, saying that it “is a testament to our college’s strong and growing focus on community-engaged research, and it signals a growing recognition among our peers that the CoSW is engaged in outstanding research in our state, across the country, and around the world.” Dr. Kirk Foster also points out that “not only is the number of faculty presentations higher than in the past, but our PhD students also have a more significant presence at SSWR.”

It is an honor for CoSW graduate students to be selected for this conference. Faculty have worked closely with doctoral students, “allowing them an excellent opportunity to share our research with an international audience and network” with social work researchers from around the world, says Dr. Teri Browne. Foster believes that the conference is an important step for graduate students—faculty support of graduate student research will prepare them for research-intensive positions in the future.

2016coverphoto23 715x300Presentations will cover the wide variety of specializations and research interests that is possible in the CoSW. Dr. Christina Andrews will show the effects of Medicaid expansions on prevention and community-based outreach services. Dr. Huong Nguyen will present a poster that previews her forthcoming paper in the Journal of Sex Research on the taboo issue of extramarital sex among men in Vietnam. Dr. Robert Hock will be presenting with disability researchers from five other universities, and Dr. Joi Dykes Anderson will share research about how childhood trauma effects the development of negative trauma-related cognitions—such as feeling incompetent, self-blaming, and feeling unsafe in the world—which are associated with the development of PTSD. These are but a few examples of the exciting and innovative research being produced out of the CoSW that will be on display at SSWR.

Some CoSW researchers will be presenting more than once. A team consisting of Dr. Teri Browne, Stephanie Clone, Dr. Dana DeHart, Dr. Aidyn Iachini, Caroline Pantridge, and Dr. Kristen Seay will be giving six presentations on the state-funded Recovery Program Transformation and Innovation (RPTIF) project that provides technical assistance to substance use agencies across South Carolina. The RPTIF project is a partnership with the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services that works to improve substance abuse treatment and recovery. DeHart is excited about her team’s participation and believes that their presentations “will contribute to an unprecedented showing” for the CoSW at the conference.

In addition to presenting findings from the RPTIF project, Iachini is excited about leading a presentation on mother-child residential treatment programs and collaborating with Dr. Ronald Pitner to “share the findings of a districtwide needs assessment we conducted with principals from a local school district related to school mental health.” Webber and Foster will also present more than once; each will present two papers. Both of Webber’s presentations are related to adolescents’ school engagement. She will debut a questionnaire that can be used to measure school engagement and demonstrate its suitability for use with youth from various racial/ethnic groups, and in her second session she will explain two strategies for increasing school engagement among adolescents. One of Foster’s papers will discuss how people conceptualize and define their neighborhoods. Foster’s second paper examines the impact of distance to social capital generation sites (such as workplaces, places of worship, and civic organizations) on access to resources necessary for social and economic mobility.

The SSWR conference is not only for showcasing new research, but also for rewarding previous work. Foster and his co-authors will be honored with the 2016 SSWR Research Book Award for Chasing the American Dream (Oxford University Press).

The amount and excellence of CoSW research at the SSWR conference is an indicator of a successful and dynamic program. As Hock explains, SSWR “is the premier venue for the top social work researchers” and acceptance is highly competitive. The CoSW’s strong presence there “signifies the College's success at accelerating research productivity and establishing our leadership at the national level.”



IMG 663305.01.2016

The Third Annual South Carolina School Behavioral Health Conference was held April 21-22, 2016 in Myrtle Beach. Dr. Aidyn Iachini, along with Kevin Rhodes from Kershaw County School District, and TFT scholars Mariah Bowen, Hannah Vaughn, and Brooke Barr represented the CoSW (Carissa Orlando, a doctoral student in the UofSC Department of Psychology also participated) by presenting papers and posters. Conferences like this provide students with the opportunity to share what they learned with other practitioners in the field and network with others in their area of interest.

CUL logo11.30.2015

Though the College of Social Work has many strong connections to the community, none are more historically significant than the relationship with the Columbia Urban League (CUL). According to James T. McLawhorn, President and CEO of the CUL, the National Urban League was founded in 1910 with a “social work methodology” for supporting African-Americans seeking opportunities during the Great Migration. Krystal Green, an alumna of the CoSW and Urban League program manager, believes that “the missions of the Urban League and the National Association of Social Workers are in sync,” as both organizations have missions focused on service to the community. Social work is embedded in the history of the Urban League, and likewise the local chapter has always had a robust relationship with the CoSW.

Graduate students in the CoSW have been enjoying field placements at the Columbia Urban League since the 1980s. Students placed at the CUL benefit from the expertise of McLawhorn, who Green describes as a “trailblazer” with “the spirit of a teacher.” According to McLawhorn, the CUL serves a variety of clients, including “over 500 youth in foster care and on Medicaid on a weekly basis,” and this provides an invaluable learning experience for interns, giving them the “opportunity to interact with clients who their profession is geared toward serving.” This early, hands-on experience is a key component of the graduate program that serves to better prepare our graduates for working in the field.

urban leagueGreen agrees that the MSW program at UofSC provided her with a solid foundation for her work with the CUL. “I have my license, and I believe that’s due to me going through the CoSW and them preparing me for that. I enjoyed my time, and I got to meet a lot of amazing people,” some of whom she is still in contact with as a field instructor. In short, the CoSW “still has a place in my heart.”

While in graduate school, Green’s field placement enabled her to work under the supervision of school social workers in Richland Districts 1 and 2. This experience has influenced her work with youth at the Urban League. She currently leads the “Level Up” program, a partnership with the Department of Social Services which serves youth by offering workshops on leadership, financial literacy, health and wellness, and career development—in essence, “all those essential skills they’re going to need as adults,” Green asserts.

Additionally, as a field instructor, Green gets to maintain her ties to the CoSW and share her experiences with graduate students. She supervises interns closely and asks about their coursework in order to facilitate connections between their learning in the classroom and the work they’re doing at the CUL. Progressing from MSW student to field instructor has been “an incredible journey” for her.

The best part of working at the CUL is giving and receiving “the gift of serving the community” every day, says Green, but sometimes these field placements turn into gainful employment. Of their current office staff, two have MSW degrees from UofSC and were first introduced to the CUL through their field placements.

When asked what he believes CoSW students can gain from a field placement with the CUL, McLawhorn did not hesitate: “The Urban League is first of all in the business of helping people, so if you have a passion for helping people to move to a better way of life, that’s fulfilling in itself. I don’t think there’s any more rewarding experience in life than to know you’ve made a positive impact in someone’s life.” For motivated social work students, there is surely no better incentive.

 

monique mitchell book04.22.2016

The new book by Dr. Monique B. Mitchell, Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Child & Family Studies, will be hitting shelves in May. The Neglected Transition: Building a Relational Home for Children Entering Foster Care explores children’s experiences of loss and ambiguity as they transition into foster care, as well as the questions children ask during this critical life transition. Dr. Mitchell uses child-centered research, practical examples, and healing suggestions to create a foundation from which to build a relational home. Drawing from the compelling stories of children, she invites readers to join children on their journey as they transition into the foster care system and courageously share their experiences of loss, ambiguity, fear, and hope. Dr. Mitchell is passionate about enhancing the lives of children in foster care. Her research focuses on life transitions, meaning-making, grief and loss, ambiguity, and youth empowerment.

Order your copy of The Neglected Transition: Building a Relational Home for Children Entering Foster Care today at oup.com/us.

11.10.2015

Marcia taylorCongratulations to doctoral student Marcia Taylor, who was selected to receive a Harriet Hampton Faucette Award from Women and Gender Studies! The Faucette award is designed to assist Women’s and Gender Studies Graduate Certificate students with research and professional development. Proposed research must be consistent with the mission of Women’s and Gender Studies to reconceptualize knowledge, create new knowledge, and/or reinterpret existing knowledge through the lens of gender and the prism of diversity. 

Ms. Taylor received this award in support of her participation in the National Women’s Studies Association conference, something she attended because she is part of their Women of Color Leadership Project. At the conference Ms. Taylor was able to network with scholars in her field and participate in a professional development program.

Ms. Taylor’s research project is titled Revisiting Intersectionality: A Framework for Addressing Health Disparities among African American Women. The primary goal of this research is to explore theoretical frameworks that may provide an appropriate foundation for engaging African American women in community-based participatory research, around issues of health and wellness. An additional goal is to explore best practices for conducting culturally based and culturally focused intervention research with African American women.

Stacey M Olson04.18.2016

A spark that ignited in an undergraduate Child Advocacy Studies course at USC Upstate has now transitioned into a local adaptation of the National Compassionate Schools Initiative. Stacey Olson, a first year MSW student, is currently undertaking an Independent Study at the USC Upstate Child Protection Training Center to examine the existing framework of the Compassionate School Initiative established by Washington State. Under the direction and supervision of Dr. Jennifer Parker and Dr. Lynn McMillan of USC Upstate, and Dr. Naomi Farber with the USC College of Social Work Olson has completed an extensive review of the literature and helped propose a training series for educators in Spartanburg, SC. She says, “The thought of more than half of the children in an average classroom having some form of an adverse event in their life before the age of 18 inspired me to want to share this information with others.”

The Compassionate Schools framework provides a flexible structure that can be adapted to meet the unique needs of each school environment. The aim of the series of trainings is to create a universal understanding school-wide that traumatic event/s (in any form) can be stressful, burdensome, and have an enormous impact on a student’s ability to learn, form relationships, and behave appropriately. The goal is not to identify students who have experienced trauma, but rather to help schools recognize all children need skills of resilience.

Outside the classroom, Olson was also invited to participate on the Spartanburg Compassionate Schools Steering Committee and to be an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Master Trainer for South Carolina by the Children’s Trust of South Carolina.

For this initiative, each Spartanburg school district was offered 20 slots for school staff to attend a summer training workshop developed by the USC Upstate Child Protection Training Center. Participants will learn about the impact of traumatic experiences on a child's behavior and capacity to learn, and how to focus on compassionate responses in the classroom, among other topics.

s. To learn more, click here.

 

11.09.2015

osa classroomAs America’s 65-and-older population continues to grow (i.e., 13 percent of the total population and growing at a rate of 15.1 percent every five years as of the 2010 census), the Arnold School of Public Health’s Office for the Study of Aging (OSA) is working to help promote healthy aging. Situated in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the Office works with professional and family caregivers, community organizations and policy makers in South Carolina and nationwide on various grants, contracts and collaborative partnerships in the areas of education, technical assistance and evaluation services.

Education for current and future caregivers is one of OSA’s specialties. For example, they have trained 21,000 South Carolinians with their Dementia Dialogues program and recently began a national rollout of the program. One of their most recent educational experiences was in the classroom. The fields of public health and social work have always shared common ground, and this connection was evidenced yet again when social work’s Nicole Cavanagh invited Macie Smith, OSA’s Program Development and Training Manager, into her classroom this fall.      

Cavanagh, an instructor and the bachelor’s degree field coordinator for the College of Social Work, asked Smith to train the students in her Advanced Intervention with Older Adults course with the Dementia Dialogues program. The initiative was part of an effort by the College to invest in quality leaders in the field of aging. The students from this class are also completing field experiences in aging organizations (e.g., Aging Resource Centers, Physicians' Offices, Assisted Living, Nursing Homes).

“Our Master of Social Work students are preparing to become specialists in the field of social work gerontology,” says Cavanagh. “This class enables them to learn about ‘real world’ interventions that can be used not only in their internships now but also in their professional practices after they graduate.”

Inside the classroom, Smith guided the students through the Dementia Dialogues training materials and person-centered approaches to care, and Cavanagh led discussions on theoretical and clinical aspects of the program. One of the students, Bonnie Bonomo, was able to offer her practical insights as the Chief of Operations for Leeza’s Care Connection (founded by TV news journalist and Season 7 Celebrity Apprentice Winner Leeza Gibbon and funded by Gibbons’ Memory Foundation), which uplifts, empowers and connects caregivers to resources and others on a similar journey. 

“The Dementia Dialogues provided students with a client-focused perspective to the aging process and the unique behaviors manifested as the client experiences changes associated with cognitive decline,” says Cavanagh. “It allows students to provide empathy, knowledge and feedback to families working toward understanding what is and will be going on with their loved ones.”  

“What I enjoyed most about the experience were the stories Macie Smith told to help us better understand the concepts she was trying to get across to us,” says Dana Daniel, one of the training participants who works part-time as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and is now completing her field experience with OSA’s S.C. Vulnerable Adult Guardian ad Litem Program. “As a CNA, I work first-hand with persons with dementia on numerous occasions, and this course has helped me better understand how to relate to and communicate with them and their family members.”

The collaboration also aligns perfectly with OSA’s role in implementing the recommendations for improving S.C.’s long-term care system and preparing the state for rapid growth in the aging population. “Two of the goals of the Long-term Care Workforce Development Consortium are to (1) increase the number of professionals specializing in long-term care and (2) ensure that all health care professionals have foundational competencies in long-term care services,” says Smith. “One of the ways we are working toward these goals is by working with universities to develop specialized long-term services and supports tracks and certifications within the health professions programs; this recent collaboration is an important step in that direction.”

Billingsley Awardees 201604.17.2016

The CoSW’s Institute for Families in Society and the African American Studies Program presented the 2016 Andrew Billingsley Faculty and Community Awards to Dr. Tisha Felder, USC College of Nursing, and Mr. James T. McLawhorn, Columbia Urban League, during the annual Robert Smalls lecture on March 30, 2016. The awards reflect the partnership between the two entities to jointly honor the legacy of Dr. Andrew Billingsley whose extensive body of work highlights the strength and resilience of African American families.

Dr. Tisha Felder, Andrew Billingsley Faculty Award winner, focuses her work on breast cancer prevention and control, with the goal to develop culturally responsive interventions that support mothers who desire to breastfeed and to improve evidence-based cancer care in African American and otherdisadvantaged populations. Mr. James T. McLawhorn, Andrew Billingsley Community Award winner, has initiated job training programs for African American women, fathers and youth; created multiple youth leadership initiatives; helped place foster children into permanent homes; and has promoted understanding and civil rights attainment in the Columbia area.

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Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes11.09.2015

Congratulations to Dr. Kirk Foster! He is the recipient of the 2016 Society for Social Work and Research Book Award for his book entitled, “Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes.” Award recipients are recognized by the Society for outstanding scholarly contributions that advance social work knowledge, and will be presented at the Awards Presentation during the 2016 SSWR Annual Conference in Washington, DC. For more about Dr. Foster’s book, read here.

For more about Dr. Foster’s book, read here

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