Silas Kelly, a graduate student in the Adelphi University School of Social Work, is combining his social work and media skills

This has always been my dream, and I am close to seeing that dream come true.

Silas Kelly

In the summer of 2011, Silas Kelly, a graduate student in the Hauppauge Education and Conference Center, was taking a class at the Garden City campus taught by Bradley Zodikoff, PhD, now director of the MSW program. Mr. Kelly told the class about his previous career as an independent radio producer and shared his enthusiasm for reporting on public affairs, his views on social work in the media and how he had just produced a radio segment about Long Island Curvy Girls, a scoliosis support group, that was going to be broadcast on radio station Z100. Mr. Kelly related that after class, as he headed out with Dr. Zodikoff, his professor observed how social work and media was a powerful combination that hadn’t been utilized enough and mused, “Silas, you may have found your niche.”

Social work was an obvious choice when Mr. Kelly considered a career change. Aside from an interest in social issues, he experienced firsthand the difference a social worker can make. When he was only 2 years old, he was removed from his biological family and placed with an abusive foster mother. Thanks to his social worker, at age 3 he was reunited with one of his brothers and placed in a loving, permanent foster home.

As a social work student, Mr. Kelly has racked up some impressive accolades. In addition to the Curvy Girls broadcast, he was declared the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) New York State Chapter-Suffolk Division’s Social Work Student of the Year for 2012. In 2013, he was selected as one of the students to give a presentation at the New York State NASW annual conference. His profile and essay, “Why I Chose to Study Social Work,” were published on NASW’s website. In May, the School of Social Work awarded him two scholarships, and he was inducted into Adelphi’s Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa’s National Leadership Honor Society. This year he was featured in an article on mentoring that appeared in the New York Nonprofit Press.

In February 2014, Mr. Kelly and Skeery Jones of Z100 coproduced a public affairs radio segment featuring orthopedic surgeon Oheneba Boachie-Adjei, president and founder of the Foundation of Orthopedics and Complex Spine (FOCOS), which brings medical professionals from the tristate area to Ghana to help patients with severe scoliosis and spinal deformities.

Lynne Shulman, director of social work programs at the Hauppauge Education and Conference Center, said, “Silas is a mature student who brings life experience as well as the enthusiasm of someone brand-new to [the] field. He really embodies social work values and ethics.”

With graduation on the horizon this spring, Mr. Kelly hopes to combine his passion for social work with his media expertise. He plans to get into the “social work trenches,” as he calls it, working with young people in the foster care system. Concurrently, he wants to start a company to independently produce and host programs and documentaries that highlight issues and inspire social action. “This has always been my dream,” he said, “and I am close to seeing that dream come true.”

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