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Nov
08

HIV/AIDS Community Stakeholder Town Hall
Nov
15

Repeal, Replace & Retract: Implications of Obamacare Reforms for Social Work Practice
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16

Global Advocacy Fair
Nov
16

Newman Institute andTrustus Theatre Play and Panel Discussion

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.”

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