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21

Interprofessional Scholars Poster Showcase
Apr
21

Advocating for Immigrant Youth DACA & the BRIDGE Act
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27

Advanced Standing Orientation
Apr
28

A Community of Connection

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

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