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Schanica Pickens, director of the Master of Social Work program and assistant dean of student affairs at Adelphi University

“Social Work Month is a time to celebrate the great profession of social work, the incredible role social workers play in helping people navigate life’s needs and challenges as well as learn about the many contributions made in the profession,” said Schanica Pickens, director of the Master of Social Work program and assistant dean of student affairs.

That’s how she describes the month-long celebration launched by the National Association of Social Workers to highlight the social work profession.

This year’s theme is: The Time is Right for Social Work. To celebrate, the School of Social Work is hosting events for present and future social workers at all levels and professionals looking to advance their careers, as well as members of the community interested in learning more about what social workers do and how social work makes a difference in the lives of so many people.

Panel Promoted Social Justice

A March 8 panel discussed the role and purpose of social work and how social work can ensure social justice, equity and equality. The conversation featured a group of influential social workers, joined by Mildred “Mit” C. Joyner, DPS, president of the National Association of Social Workers, sharing their thoughts on the future of social work.

Upcoming Events for Social Work Month

  • On March 17, Dulande Louis, MSW ’10, adjunct professor and social worker, will host “Illiteracy and Low Educational Attainment of Haitian Women,” examining how vulnerability to poor health, income disparities and low quality of life can impact literacy and infant mortality. This is part of the Women’s International Month Presentation Series.
  • On March 23, Adelphi will host Spotlight on Careers in Social Work. Organized by Elizabeth Szpilka, MSW ’93, director of outreach enrollment and professional advisement in the School of Social Work, this virtual discussion will feature the experiences and insights of recent graduates from the School of Social Work so current students can learn what a day in the life of a social worker is like. There will also be an admissions counselor to help students learn about job opportunities, how to make the most of their degree and the rewards of working in the field of social work.
  • On April 12, the School of Social Work will host the Second Annual Virtual Conference on Ecological Justice: Fostering Resilience and Cultivating Impact. This conference is designed to advance social work’s ethical obligation to address and mitigate climate change. It will also count as four continuing education credits.

Social Work at Adelphi: Our Social Justice Mission

Outside of Social Work Month events, the School of Social Work has spearheaded many important initiatives, including a three-month project highlighting such social justice issues as the effects of race and racism on the criminal justice system, healthcare system and housing. Part of Adelphi’s annual Social Action Initiatives, the project brought undergraduate and graduate students together. Along with designing op-eds, videos, pamphlets and social media campaigns to combat racial injustices, nearly 300 social work students participated in the New York State Legislative Education and Action virtual events on racial justice that took place throughout March 2021.

Students aren’t the only ones dedicated to making a difference through social work. CarolAnn Daniel, PhD, professor of social work, and Steven Cox, PhD, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders and director of the Voice and Quality of Life Laboratory, teamed up to explore racial disparities in healthcare. The duo’s research highlights the many ways that racism can lead to poor outcomes for underserved patients and offers feasible approaches to improving health equity.

Major Grant Promotes Social Work to Serve Children

In 2021, the School of Social Work was awarded a $1.92 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The four-year grant of $480,000 a year will focus on training and placing students in organizations that serve children and adolescents in under-resourced communities as part of the Interdisciplinary Education and Training Experience (IDEATE) Fellowship.

“Preparing students to be social work professionals is integral to understanding complex systems,” said Pickens. “[This] is often divided into micro-work, which involves working directly with individuals or small groups; and macro-work, which involves working with communities, and fostering change on a larger scale through social policy.”

Other Social Work-Led Initiatives at Adelphi

  • The Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program offers events for patients fighting breast cancer and the families who support them. Nina Foley, MSW ’18, volunteer and hotline coordinator for the program, said, “As social workers, we don’t judge or give our advice, rather we meet the patient and address what is most helpful for the patient at the moment.”
  • The Center for Nonprofit Leadership addresses the leadership transition and development in nonprofit organizations on Long Island. The center worked with Youth INC, an organization that accelerates the most promising youth-development organizations across New York City, to develop Rise Academy for Leaders of Color. This month the academy received two Anthem Awards for Best Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Community Engagement and Best Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Partnerships.

“The core values of social work are based on ethics and principles which include compassionate service to others, fostering dignity for all individuals, social justice and promoting stronger human relationships,” said Pickens. “The core values alone show the importance of social work today as the values social workers promote impact individuals, communities and society.”

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