2014-2015 Academic Year Student Evaluations

2014-2015 Academic Year Student Evaluations

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Summer II Classes End

HiddenPictures300x300One Film. One Worldwide Discussion

On World Mental Health Day, the College of Social Work participates in the Global Web Screening of Hidden Pictures, an award-winning new film about global mental health. Filmmaker and physician Delaney Ruston, who grew up in the shadow of her dad’s schizophrenia, explores the hidden struggles faced by the 450 million people living with mental illness worldwide.

Through deeply personal stories involving bipolar illness, depression, schizophrenia and anxiety in India, China, Africa, France and the US, Hidden Pictures reveals a global epidemic of silence on mental health, as well as moments of profound compassion and remarkable change.

Tune in during any time on October 10th at http://bit.ly/hidpicsfilm to watch Hidden Pictures and join a global dialogue about mental health issues.



DHart 350x350Why Is “Orange the New Black” for Female Victims of Trauma?

Dr. Dana DeHart’s latest study explores the pathways that lead to jail time for women.

How do pathways to jail vary for females who are victims of specific types of trauma? New research by Dana DeHart, Shannon Lynch, Joanne Belknap, and Bonnie Green has been published in Psychology of Women Quarterly. The study pinpoints caregiver violence, witnessing violence, and intimate partner violence as types of trauma that lead to specific types of offending later in life and offers explanations based on real experiences.

For example, intimate partner violence increased women’s risks for property crimes, drug offending, and commercial sex work. And witnessing violence increased risks for property crimes, fighting, and use of weapons.

Researchers also found that the women they interviewed had high rates of mental health disorders, especially serious mental illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorders, or psychotic spectrum disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and/or substance use disorder.

The study concludes, “The research is critical to development of gender-responsive programming, alternatives to incarceration, and problem-solving court initiatives that address girls’ and women’s specific needs.”

DeHart has conducted multiple studies of women and girls in prison, and she is now expanding the scope of her research to see how families of prisoners in South Carolina are affected during the incarceration. With funding from the US Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice, she will work with co-investigators Cheri Shapiro and Kathleen Hayes, both with the College of Social Work’s Institute for Families in Society, on this latest endeavor.

DonorLunchAsia YanceyStudent Scholars Given Opportunity to Excel

LaQuita Cowart, an MSW student, wasn’t sure she would be able to attend graduate school. Her parents were both ill at the time—her father with a fatal brain infection, her mother enduring a second bout of breast cancer—causing her take a year off during her undergraduate studies and forcing her to work while attending school. As she says, “receiving the Mike and Debra Dubose Scholarship meant a lot to me because it just made things easier on me financially.”

Other student scholars receiving fellowships also expressed gratitude, and the COSW brought these students together with donors for a luncheon on April 25. “The luncheon was a wonderful opportunity to meet the recipients of the Dorothy Crouch Kemp Fellowship,” Yancey Wise, one of the donors in attendance, said. “They are both lovely, gracious young women, and it is a blessing to be able to support them.”

Asia Jami, an MSW candidate (pictured here with Yancey Wise) and one of the recipients of Wise’s Kemp Fellowship, is thankful that she was able to avoid additional student loan debt due to the scholarship. She currently interns at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, assisting veterans with cognitive processing therapy. Her career interests, however, lie in assisting abused children, and her ultimate goal is to work with the Department of Social Services.

“It’s not unusual for students to graduate with an average of $38,000 of student loan debt, so these scholarships are truly lifelines for them,” said Dean Anna Scheyett.

Donors to the College of Social Work have assisted Kumar Durgesh, a PhD candidate, not just financially, but also with advice. For the past two years, Kumar, who has a background in microfinance, has developed a curriculum that combines finance and social work in addition to teaching a class on the subject. He claims, “The economic and advisory support that we are getting from the donors has really helped us get all of the pieces from academia and also from the field….That is phenomenal.”

The luncheon was an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of the College of Social Work student scholars and introduce them to the donors who have supported them.

m 1354820716Soul whisperer: USC professor teaches life lessons

In the span of a four-decade career, Nicholas Cooper-Lewter has counseled down-and-out death row inmates, talked professional athletes through sports slumps and preached 
to the faithful in church pews.

Read more.



AutismCommunityForum2Autism Forum Unites Parents, Professionals, and Researchers

The first annual Autism Community Forum, hosted by Dr. Robert Hock and the College of Social Work, brought USC autism researchers and members of the autism community together to promote the mutual exchange of information and ideas. Researchers briefly presented their interests and findings and facilitated small group discussions to hear from parents about their needs and suggestions for future research endeavors. “It was amazing,” said one parent. “A snippet about each research study from ‘the horse's mouth’ was excellent. I especially liked the chance to get to speak with each of the presenters.” The Forum also helped to unite autism researchers across campus. They were able to discuss future partnerships to continue to expand information around autism and to coordinate research efforts across the University. “It was exciting to meet other USC autism researchers and hear about the diverse work going on across the University,” stated Dr. Jane Roberts (Psychology). The event was a great success and parents and researchers are enthusiastically anticipating next year’s forum.

WootenVA RDayCOSW Strengthens Collaboration with VA Medical Center

Recently, the College of Social Work participated in the Research Day sponsored by the Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Columbia, SC. Dean Anna Scheyett presented an overview of social work–related research and opportunities for collaboration. She emphasized the translation of research to policy and practice, innovative dissemination to a wide range of audiences, and most importantly, engaging and learning from hard-to-reach populations. Her presentation dovetailed nicely with that of Dr. Sara Knight, Deputy Director of Health Services Research and Development, who emphasized the importance of translating research and engaging veterans in their communities.

Dr. Nikki Wooten, Assistant Professor for Military Social Work Research and Practice, presented a poster presentation titled “Gender Differences in Substance Use Treatment in the Year Prior to Deployment in Army Service Members.” The study found that Army women were less likely to receive military lifetime substance use diagnoses and substance use treatment the year prior to deployment. These findings suggest gender disparities in military-provided substance use treatment and that military substance use assessment protocols may not be sensitive to gender differences.

These presentations strengthened the relationship between the College of Social Work and the VAMC. Potential collaborative research areas include addictions, trauma, criminal justice, veterans’ families and family services, health disparities, and intimate partner violence. Both the College and the VAMC are eager to develop research projects to improve the lives of veterans and their families.


College of Social Work Pinwheel Event
Raises Child Abuse Awareness

The Social Work Student Organziation (SWSA), a student group in the College of Social Work, exhibited strong leadership skills as it led an event raising awareness of child abuse. The event took place at the 1731 College Street through a partnership with the Children's Trust of SC. Attendees planted a pinwheel garden in recognition of child abuse victims. The pinwheels are a symbol of the happiness every child deserves. Guests from around the University and Midlands attended the event, including many faculty, students, staff, and community partners. Throughout the day, Amber Schrenkel, SWSA Secretary (pictured) ensured the event ran smoothly and efficiently as she assisted and directed the numerous guests who gathered to celebrate the event’s mission.

Read more

AlumAward PattersonAlumni Recognition Awards

Four of the USC College of Social Work’s distinguished alumni received recognition at this year’s hooding ceremony on May 10. Patrick J. Patterson, MSW, MPH, and Teresa Arnold, MSW, received the Alumni Award, and George W. Appenzeller, LPC, LISW-CP/AP, MSW, and Sarah L. Meadows, MSW, received the Pioneer Award.

Each year, the College of Social Work faculty present two winners with the Alumni Award in recognition of the graduates’ outstanding work that reflects the values and professionalism expected from the COSW. This year’s recipients embody these criteria through their dedicated service and contributions to the profession of social work.

Patrick J. Patterson, MSW, MPH, has managed and provided leadership on statewide, regional, and national fatherhood and family strengthening initiatives in both public and private sectors. Mr. Patterson’s career began during his time as South Carolina’s first-ever, statewide Fatherhood Initiative manager. Mr. Patterson co-founded the South Carolina Fatherhood Practitioners Network, a 350-member network designed to train and build the capacity and skills of professionals working with fathers.

Today, Mr. Patterson is a senior manager at ICF International. In this role, Mr. Patterson is responsible for providing leadership and oversight to build infrastructure to serve fathers and their families. The award recognizes Mr. Patterson’s outstanding contributions to the field as a COSW alumnus.

Teresa Arnold, MSW, has devoted much of her career to improving the quality of life for vulnerable populations. She has served on the boards of Safe Kids and the South Carolina Association of Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. While working as director of governmental affairs for the South Carolina Department of Social Services, Ms. Arnold helped to develop significant legislative agenda.

Ms. Arnold was also the senior research analyst for the SC House of Representatives, Ways and Means Committee. As senior research analyst, her responsibilities included developing budgets and drafting and passing the LIFE Scholarship (the single largest scholarship offered in the state). Currently, she is the co-chair of the organization Children Come First. She also serves as the legislative director of AARP-South Carolina. The award spotlights Ms. Arnold’s contributions to her community over the years.

The Pioneer Award, also reserved for graduates of the COSW, recognizes students’ outstanding contributions and work at the state and national levels. Both recipients of this year’s award clearly exhibit these qualities.

George W. Appenzeller, LPC, LISW-CP/AP, MSW, has devoted much of his career to the military—including service and social work. He has 41 years of experience in evaluation, research, administration, program development, policy development, training, and consulting. He has 21 years of experience as a psychotherapist specializing in children and youth with behavioral disorders. Mr. Appenzeller has been the principal investigator for 350 research and evaluation projects. Also, he has approximately 65 publications.

Currently, Mr. Appenzeller serves as the lead military consultant and therapist at System Wide Solutions, a macro social work practice organization which he co-founded. The Pioneer Award recognizes his contributions to the field of social work through his diligence and dedication to the military.

Sarah L. Meadows, MSW, has 37 years of experience in administration and management, research, program development, training, and consulting in the human services field. She has 22 years of experience as a wilderness, adventure, and experiential therapist.

Ms. Meadows worked for many years as the director of training with USC’s Center for Child and Family Studies. In 2000, she co-founded and joined System Wide Solutions and the Challenge Adventures Program. Within this role, Ms. Meadows provides evaluation and consulting services to education, non-profits, and government agencies. This award recognizes her outstanding contributions to the community and the profession of social work.


NASW-SC Conference Features USC Faculty and Students

Faculty and students from the College of Social Work were easy to spot at the 2013 Spring Symposium of the National Association of Social Work, South Carolina chapter. They presented seven workshops, and Dean Anna Scheyett even moderated the NASW-SC Board presentation. During this town-hall-style meeting, participants had an open dialogue with the organization’s leadership about directions for the future. As the current chapter president, Clinical Faculty Michael Ottone delivered part of this panel presentation.

Workshops included the following:

Dr. Terry Wolfer, Dr. Melissa Reitmeier, and Michael Ottone presented “Sharing Best Practices: Problem Solving Ethical Dilemmas.” They discussed four case vignettes involving ethical perplexities, specifically those that focused on the tension between self-determination and best practice, as well as a model for ethical decision making.

Dr. Wolfer and Dr. Reitmeier also presented “Enhancing Social Work Field Education: Decision Cases for Field Instructors.”
This workshop introduced the concept of case method, provided a case for discussion, and presented literature regarding role transitions and the inherent challenges for first-time supervisors and field instructors.

Dr. Steven Lize and Dr. Pippin Whitaker presented “Understanding Human Trafficking: Strategies for Prevention and Intervention.” The workshop informed participants about major types of domestic and international human trafficking and how supply, demand, and control facilitate and perpetuate human trafficking. They used a case study to help participants learn how to respond to individuals who may have experienced trafficking.

Meredith Powers, MSW, PhD Candidate 2014, and Amber Schrenkel, MSW Candidate 2013, presented “Refugees in Columbia, SC: Invisible yet Indispensable.” Taking a strengths-based perspective of the current refugee situation, they presented the process of obtaining US refugee status and then focused on the population of refugees residing in South Carolina. Discussion and activities involved how social workers can provide the best and most culturally competent services to these community members.

Dr. Aidyn Iachini, Dr. Robert Hock, and Dr. Michelle Thomas presented “What Youth and Parents Want from Their Service Providers.”
Data collected through focus groups with youth and parents were shared to highlight key practice behaviors that social work practitioners might consider using in their practice. Challenges to implementing these behaviors based on practice settings also were discussed through case examples.

Dr. Susan Parlier presented “Low Wage and Low-Income Women’s Spirituality while Struggling with Bill-Paying Hardships.”
Low-wage women have struggled with social and economic policies since the Great Recession. In a qualitative study, a theme of spirituality and its meaning-making processes emerged into a conceptual framework. Dr. Parlier led a discussion about the women’s spirituality and the ways it matters to social work practice.

Helen Pridgen, LMSW, Dr. Susan T. Parlier, and Corinne Mercogliano, BSW Candidate, presented “Suicide Prevention: Saving Lives One Community at a Time.”
With suicide as the 10th leading cause of death in the US, suicide prevention has become everyone’s business. The presentation addressed statistics, risk factors for depression and suicide, popular myths, suicide prevention research and education programs, and services in South Carolina. The presentation offered helpful interventions in responding to persons at risk.

COSW Hooding 2013Graduation Highlights Students’ Success

On May 10, the College of Social Work hosted the BSW Cording and MSW Hooding Ceremony for 27 BSW graduates and approximately 250 MSW graduates and their family and friends. This special celebration featured social work at its best. Steven Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, SC, spoke to a full house about the importance of social work to the community. Dr. Lacy Ford, Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, discussed the significance of social work for South Carolina and talked about his mother’s career as a social worker. Students shared heartfelt poetry and reflections about their experiences in the social work programs. The USC COSW community celebrated faculty, alumni, field instructors, and students with awards.

Many of the graduates have shared their success stories with Dean Anna Scheyett. For example, one will begin working as a child protective services investigator with Iredell County in North Carolina. Another accepted a local position at Three Rivers Behavioral Health as a full-time social worker. And a third will serve as the executive director of a local non-profit organization, Camp Opportunity, which provides year-round support services for abused, neglected, and at-risk children.

While in the BSW or MSW program, several graduates completed internships at counseling centers, hospitals, non-profit organizations, and the South Carolina Department of Social Services. Many graduates have been hired as permanent employees for these organizations. Other students have been hired in various positions both across the U.S. and beyond.

For example, one graduate will be working as a youth development facilitator in Peru this summer. She writes, “The MSW program has certainly prepared me for my upcoming adventures!” Another will be moving to Hiroshima, Japan, to work as a program assistant for the Global Studies, Peace, and Leadership Seminar. She says her position will allow her to “collaborate with global fieldwork sites, prepare international students for arrival, coordinate the online curriculum, and make preparations for the seminar to begin.”

Thanks to the broad scope of the BSW and MSW programs, these graduates will enjoy nearly limitless professional possibilities. They begin their new careers well-equipped to lead social change. The College of Social Work is confident that the pride and excitement these students expressed upon graduating represents their future success in the social work community.

USC Well Represented at National Conference

Faculty and students from USC’s College of Social Work were prominently featured at the 2013 conference of the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors, Inc. (BPD), held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The BPD is the primary organization that represents undergraduate social work. Its annual conference focuses on education and building the profession.
Presentations included the following:

  • Dr. Terry Wolfer and former COSW colleague Dr. David Pooler presented a paper on “Finding Joy in Social Work Practice: Implications for Teaching Social Work.”
    The paper was based on in-depth qualitative interviews with 26 social workers. They found that practitioners found joy in making deep connections with clients and colleagues, making a difference for clients and programs, making meaning of work experiences, and making a life (i.e., balancing life and work).

  • Dr. Melissa Reitmeier, doctoral student Tamara Savage, and Dr. Wolfer presented the workshop “Developing Field Instructor Competency: Problem Solving with Decision Cases.”
    The workshop included an introduction to case method teaching, a live case discussion of a field instructor case, and information about cases for field instructors. It was based on a project funded by a COSW Dean’s Teaching Award. The case discussion sparked a vigorous discussion and strong positive response among the Field Directors who attended.

  • Dr. Teri Browne and BSW student Cassidy Shaver presented “Using NIH R15 Grants to Educate BSW Students About Health Disparities Research.”
    They reviewed Dr. Browne’s NIH-funded research project that is exploring kidney transplant disparities. Dr. Browne has worked with a student team of five BSW and three MSW students for the last three years. Their talk gave an overview of the project, explored the different components of research that the students have been involved in, and summarized the student evaluations of this experience.

  • Ms. Stephanie Clone, a second year MSW student, along with Dr. Robert Hock and Dr. Aidyn Iachini, presented on the role of strategic planning in fostering interagency collaboration.
    This presentation was based on the presenters’ experiences in leading the development of a statewide strategic plan for youth-serving mental and behavioral health agencies. The presentation also emphasized the unique role for social workers in facilitating these collaborative processes as a way to advocate for systems-level change.
  • Dr. Huong Nguyen presented "Taking Students Abroad to Study Social Work: Practical Lessons and Theoretical Perspectives."
    She discussed her experiences in taking students to her native Vietnam. Her presentation covered various aspects of the trip, including lessons about curriculum development, logistical preparation, partnership with foreign universities, and her students’ overall experience. She later delved into theoretical issues regarding teaching students about cultural competence, diversity, and international social work.


WootenPortrait3x3USC Featured Scholar, Nikki Wooten

Dr. Nikki Wooten, a member of the Army Reserves since 1989, brings personal military experience and clinical social work practice to her work.
Read more. 



Pitner R 350x350Breakthrough Star: Dr. Ronald Pitner

Dr. Ronald Pitner, Assistant Professor in the College of Social Work, has been selected as one of this year’s Breakthrough Stars at the University of South Carolina.

The Breakthrough Stars Awards honor faculty from a wide variety of disciplines who show phenomenal commitment to their fields through research and scholarly activity. Dr. Pitner’s innovative, collaborative research has helped lead to the establishment of the Community Empowerment Center (CEC) in Columbia’s Gonzales Gardens. The CEC acts as a catalyst for building the community’s capacity to develop solutions to neighborhood concerns.

Dr. Anna Scheyett, Dean of the COSW, commends Dr. Pitner for this award, saying, “His work is an excellent example of rigorous social work research grounded in full community engagement and addressing the challenging problems of our times.”

PhotoVoiceOpening2013Photo Voice Exhibit Illustrates Community Change

The Community Visions Photo Voice Exhibit, supported through funding from the USC Institute for African American Research, debuted May 7 at the Benedict College Business Development Center. Photo Voice is a participatory action research approach that empowers community artists to document their communities, reflect on the meanings found in their photos, engage in critical dialogue with others, and use their photos and voices to ignite social change. The seven community artists involved in the exhibit documented changes in the Lyon Street and Gonzales Gardens neighborhoods in Columbia, SC, over the past two years. The exhibit marks the end of a three-year grant provided by the Kresge Foundation. The grant funded the Community Empowerment Center and several mini-grants aimed at supporting community-level, community-engaged change. The Kresge grant kicked off three years ago with a similar Photo Voice exhibit, in which local artists documented changes needed in the community. The current exhibit illuminates progress that has been made as well as needs that still exist. The goal of the Community Empowerment Center was to build local capacity to create healthy community environments. Even as the grant ends, community members are continuing many of the mini-grants in various forms. For example, one of the Photo Voice artists is using her talents to re-establish a community-run newspaper, which was originally supported by a mini-grant. The Community Visions Photo Voice Exhibit will move to the McKissick Museum for the fall 2013 semester, where it will continue to raise awareness of the power of community-level change.

FarmersMarketOkraRight Choice, Fresh Start brings more than produce to Orangeburg

A transformation is taking place at the Family Health Center in Orangeburg that is helping to change attitudes about food.

Every Friday, the green space by the health center’s north parking lot is occupied by tables of bright yellow and green squash, baskets of fragrant peaches, and piles of melons—all locally grown and sold by South Carolina farmers. Hundreds of people come to the health center for more than just their routine check-up. Patients, health center staff, and Orangeburg residents mingle around the tables—talking, laughing, and asking farmers about prices and cooking suggestions.

Nguyen featureChange Spans Cultural Boundaries

Huong Nguyen, a COSW assistant professor and award-winning author, is a catalyst for change in her home country of Vietnam as well as in America.

Read more.

DHart 350x350Dana DeHart, USC Featured Scholars of the Month for February

The Office of Research seeks to support faculty excellence in research, creative activities, and other scholarly pursuits. To that end, USC has established this initiative to recognize outstanding scholars from across the University's diverse schools, colleges, and campuses.

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