Learn how four recent graduates are making their mark.

by Erin Donohue, Brett Spielberg and Stephen Levine

Social work students often approach their studies thinking that their careers won’t really begin until they obtain an M.S.W. But Sergio Argueta, director of the Adelphi University bachelor of social work program, is a firm believer that you can make a big difference with a bachelor of social work degree. Four of the School’s 2013 graduates—Kevin Taylor, Amanda Hiltz, Gina Dudley and Brent Russell—prove his point.

“Kevin was hired by his last internship placement,” Mr. Argueta said. “Brent graduated with honors and wanted to work with veterans. Gina was hired by S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth Inc. Amanda was recommended for a volunteer placement. The organization interviewed her, gave her the placement, and they liked her so much, they hired her.”

Writing Stories and Changing Lives

Amanda Hiltz '13
Amanda Hiltz ’13

Amanda Hiltz ’13 did her fieldwork in a variety of placements. At Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, she worked with  middle-aged men suffering from addiction. At Pride for Youth, an organization that provides services and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) youth, “I was able to intervene in someone’s life when they were at such a young, impressionable age,” Ms. Hiltz said.

Her mentors at Adelphi recommended she participate in the first cohort of a new community engagement initiative: Philanthropic Action for Challenging Times (PACT). Sponsored by long-time Adelphi supporters the Riley Family Foundation, PACT consists of a select group of junior and senior students who gain experience in philanthropy, nonprofit management and the grant-making process as they determine which grassroots organizations in Nassau County will receive funding. In 2013, the students of PACT chose four organizations, one of which was the Herstory Writers Workshop.

Ms. Hiltz’s PACT experience turned into a volunteer placement with Herstory, which in turn led to being hired for her first job. She explained that Herstory uses the power of the written word to help women change their lives. Through writing exercises, these women are able to analyze the events that shaped their lives and put them in a different perspective, thus rewriting their personal stories, which “lead to positive outcomes,” as she put it. Her clients within this group come from all different populations, including women who have been incarcerated.

Setting SAIL

 Kevin Taylor '13
  Kevin Taylor ’13

Fellow graduate Kevin Taylor ’13 changed his major from psychology to social work because of the diverse opportunities the field offered both as a student and in a career.

On campus, he established the Social Work Action Gateway (SWAG), a club that essentially became a movement within the School of Social Work.

Off-campus, Mr. Taylor was placed in the South Shore Association for Independent Living (SAIL), where he served a population primarily comprised of adults with mental illness. When Superstorm Sandy hit, he was relied upon to get his clients the help they needed, from finding them shelter to getting their prescription medications.

He did just that, going above and beyond his usual responsibilities during a time of unprecedented crisis. After nearly a year at SAIL, Mr. Taylor was offered a job right out of school.

Helping Youth Stay Strong

Gina Dudley '13
Gina Dudley ’13

Gina Dudley ’13 came to the field of social work through volunteering with a church-based group. She found  counseling parishioners to be so fulfilling that she chose to pursue social work academically. In her field placement at The INN she worked with families that were struggling, and at Franklin Hospital her clients were geriatric patients.

Since she’d always had a strong connection with the young people she’d met through her children, Ms. Dudley finds her work with S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth Inc. comes naturally. This Uniondale-based agency, a few miles from the Adelphi campus, seeks to steer area youth from gang involvement by providing them with alternative opportunities.

Ms. Dudley reflects on her education at Adelphi as a “very hands-on experience.” She learned how to facilitate groups, create workshops and develop ways to reach her clients. “Groups and workshops are my strength,” she said, adding that she has worked with everyone from families to youth to the elderly.  She is currently developing a group for incarcerated adolescent males and another for girls at risk.

Helping Those Who Served

When Brent Russell ’13 returned as a transfer student after more than a decade out of school, this former soldier who served during the first Desert Storm knew he wanted to practice social work that would help his fellow veterans.

After graduating, he quickly found employment with the Veterans Health Alliance of Long Island. His clients, who come from all branches of the armed services, struggle with varying degrees of issues such as substance abuse and trauma. Mr. Russell often reaches out to the families of his clients to help with recovery because, he said, “When a soldier goes off to war, it’s not just him who’s affected; it’s everyone.” He explained that he uses his own military experiences to relate to the issues of veterans and their families.

Looking back at his second time around in college, Mr. Russell credits Adelphi with great training and preparation, saying that thanks to his schooling, he is able to manage a growing caseload of clients and is looking forward to leading a peer-to-peer veterans’ support group this fall.

For further information, please contact:

Todd Wilson
Strategic Communications Director 
p – 516.237.8634
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