Month: April 2014

Dr. Robert Fisher Selected for Fulbright Award

Robert Fisher receives prestigious Fulbright award. As a Fulbright Scholar he will teach and research in Austria during the Spring 2015 semester. Dr. Fisher will be teaching social science courses at the University of Innsbruck. Robert Fisher, Ph.D. ProfessorHis research project “Community and Civil Society in Austria: A Comparative Perspective” will compare state, market, and civil society developments in the U.S, U.K, and Austria.

The Fulbright will enable Dr. Fisher to expand his research on the “turn to community” as an alternative to the welfare state in Austria, a small nation where the social welfare state is still relatively intact. This is Dr. Fisher’s third Fulbright Scholar award, having also been the recipient in 1986-88 and 1994.

2013 – 2014 Scholarship Award Recipients

Each year the School of Social Work holds a Scholarship Awards Ceremony. It is a wonderful opportunity to bring together students, alumni and donors to recognize the outstanding academic achievements and professional contributions of our MSW, PhD and Non-Degree students. A highlight of the event is the special remarks by a donor, their family or a past scholarship recipient.

The 15th Annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony and Luncheon was held on April 8, 2014.  Celaura Estrada MSW ’09, recipient of the 2007 Raymond and Mary Borecki Buck Scholarship, gave the remarks.


MSW Scholarships

Dr. Albert Alissi Scholarship
Wilson Dias
Mary Fran & Peter Libassi Scholarship
Kayla Lathrop
Nancy Tarr Berdon Scholarship
Agnes Kamara and Nakia Miller
Libassi/Wheeler Scholarship
Jill Giguere
Raymond and Mary Borecki Buck Scholarship
Valerie Licata
RuthAnn Lobo Social Work Scholarship
Karonesa Logan and Cynthia Nichols
Frank V. Carollo Scholarship
Kevin Chiang, Alberto Cifuentes, Jr.,
Jennifer Oliver, Melissa Ruot
Vivian Michelson Scholarship
Robert Haswell
Mary Deane-Scalora Fund
Hannah Croasmun and Nicole Seymour
Donna Millette-Fridge Scholarship
Daniel Fortunato
Dana DeBiasi Scholarship
Melissa Thompson
Dr. Julio Morales Jr. Fellowship Fund
Robert Girard
Shirley and Howard Dickstein Scholarship
Danielle Nardone and Candace Williams
Murry Shapiro Scholarship
Rebecca Parkhurst
Dr. Ivor Echols Scholarship
Kimona Spencer
Miriam June Silverman Scholarship
Krystal Rich
Charlotte Kinlock Scholarship
Matthew Morris


Ph.D. Scholarships

Kay W. Davidson Doctoral Scholarship
Jennifer Willett
M. Elizabeth Sterling Scholarship
Angela Bellas, Karen D’Angelo, Michele Eggers
Jack Lu, Jason Ostander, Michael Reeves
Debra and Bruce Fischman Scholarship
Hiroki Toi
Graduate Ph.D. Assistanships
Anglea Bellas, Janelle Bryan, Jesse Capece,
Jason Ostrander, Reinaldo Rojas, Hiroki Toi
Vicki and Michael Konover Fellowship Fund
Walter Belsito, Janelle Bryan, Jesse Capece,
Mollie Charter, Denise Keane, Paula Nieman,
Adelaide Sandler
Graduate Ph.D Dissertation Scholarships
Michele Eggers, Christina Chiarelli-Helminiak,
Dwight Norwood, Loida Reyes, Hiroki Toi,
Jennifer Willett
T. Roderick Silcott Fund
Elizabeth Allen
Konover Travel Scholarships
Christina Chiarelli-Helminiak and Hiroki Toi

For more information about our scholarships, visit > Giving.

If you wish to establish a scholarship fund or donate to an existing fund, please contact Kristen Willis at

The UConn School of Social Work gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the outstanding people who make it possible to award these scholarships annually.

Two SSW Students Receive UConn Academic Achievement Award

Two graduating students, Christina Chiarelli-Helminiak and Krystal Rich, will receive the UConn Outstanding Senior Women Academic Achievement Award at a ceremony in Storrs on May 9, 2014.

Photo of Christina Chiarelli-Helminiak
Christina Chiarelli-Helminiak
Tina is a Ph.D. student and has been awarded Graduate Assistantships for five years, two by the School of Social Work and three by the Human Rights Institute. While at the Human Rights Institute, she served as the Assistant Director of the Undergraduate Programs in Human Rights from 2011 to the present. At the School of Social Work, her Graduate Assistantship consisted of course instruction.

Tina has taught six different MSW courses and has also served in the role of Research Associate on various studies, including: Human Rights Education Interdisciplinary Education; Integrating Human Rights Learning in the Social Work Curriculum; Building Relationships and Bridging Social Capital: An Inclusive Approach to Immigrant Civic Engagement with Libraries; Nurturing Families Network, Depression Improvement Study; National Domestic Violence Non-Residential Services and Support Study and Retention and Resiliency in Child Welfare Workers. While in the Ph.D. program, she has also published five articles. In March, she successfully defended her dissertation entitled, “Organizational Factors Affecting Burnout among Forensic Interviewers.”

Krystal RichKrystal Rich is an MSW student with a concentration in Policy Practice. She is completing her second year field placement in the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work. She coordinated the 18th Annual Campaign School, created and disseminated information sheets on this year’s legislative priorities, as well as researched what different community groups are doing to address the issue of voter suppression.

Outside of school, Krystal works as a Crisis Counselor and Advocate at the Sexual Assault Crisis Service in New Britain where she is primarily involved in working with women and men who have been subjected to various abuses, including sexual assault and domestic violence. Krystal is also employed at Ability Beyond Disability where she is a Life Skills Assistant working with adolescent girls who have been removed from their homes due to allegations of abuse and/or neglect.

For the past two years Krystal has served as the Co-Chair of the Policy Practice Concentration for the Student Organization. She also serves at the student representative on the Move to Hartford Committee and the Student Representative on the Educational Policy Committee.

Nancy Humphreys Urges Political Activism for Social Workers

Scores of students and former students of the University of Connecticut’s School of Social Work gathered at the West Hartford Campus during the weekend to pay tribute to the venerable Nancy A. Humphreys who is retiring from her tenure as founder and director of the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work more…

Nancy A. Humphreys, DSWDirector of the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work (NAHIPSW)
Nancy A. Humphreys, DSW
Director of the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work

Connecticut Partnership for Child Welfare Excellence: A Collaboration Between the UConn School of Social Work and the CT Department of Children & Families

UConn SSW and DCF Awarded Federal Grant to Establish the Connecticut Partnership for Child Welfare Excellence    

Federal Grant Supports Partnership between UConn and DCF to Prepare Graduates for Family-Centered, Strengths-Based Social Work

$735,000 Five-Year Grant to Develop 35 MSW Graduates and Enhance Agency Diversity

Image of SSW logo
Image of DCF logo

The federal Children’s Bureau selected the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the University of Connecticut School of Social Work as one of 11 “University Partnership” programs in the nation designed to prepare social workers to help vulnerable children and families.

The “Connecticut Partnership for Child Welfare Excellence,” as the program will be called, will receive $735,000 over a five-year period beginning this federal fiscal year and is designed to ensure that new social workers are ready to implement the Department’s new “Strengthening Families” practice model. Strengthening Families calls upon social workers to work collaboratively with families by building upon family strengths to find solutions to challenges that affect their children. The Partnership will result in 35 Master of Social Work (MSW) graduates who are either currently employed at the Department or who will receive priority consideration for employment. The Department will seek students who are currently enrolled or are considering enrollment in the UConn School of Social Work MSW program. Students accepted in the program will have their final year of graduate study paid in full through this grant. During their course of study, the students will be required to intern at the Department.

Due to the diversity of families served by the Department, an important focus of the Partnership will be to support greater diversity at the Department through priority recruitment of male and bilingual staff, especially Spanish-speaking social workers. Currently, 69 percent of Department staff are female, 16.8 percent are Latino, and 28.4 percent are African American. DCF’s efforts to increase the diversity and linguistic competency of agency staff are part of the Department’s broader Racial Justice focus, an effort to enable DCF to effectively engage and work with families and communities of diversity.

Commissioner Joette Katz said she is proud that the Department’s staff has made great strides in implementing the new Strengthening Families Practice Model and that there are now fewer children in care, more children living with relatives and other people they know, fewer children in group settings, and fewer children receiving services out of state. She said, however, the Department needs to continue to develop and support new, skilled employees to advance progress already made and to become more culturally competent.

“The Department needs to build upon our successes by preparing a new generation of social workers, supervisors and managers.” Commissioner Katz said. “Further, because family engagement is so important and because we need to do a better job engaging fathers and paternal relatives, it is also important that we attract more men of color and bilingual staff to work with us.”

“The ‘Connecticut Partnership for Child Welfare Excellence’ is our most recent example of collaboration with state agencies to improve the lives of the people of Connecticut,” said University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst. “I am particularly proud of the School of Social Work for its leadership in this effort which promotes cultural competence and continues its long-standing record of public engagement.”

It is expected that a number of existing DCF staff will take advantage of the opportunity. Another important component of the program will be to develop curriculum at the UConn School of Social Work that responds to current child welfare workforce needs and the DCF Strengthening Families Practice Model in particular.

“As Co-Principal Investigator of this federal grant, I am delighted that our proposal was selected for funding,” said Dean Salome Raheim of the University of Connecticut’s School of Social Work. “The separate accomplishments of the UConn School of Social Work and DCF, as well as our longstanding partnership, were key factors in garnering this funding. We look forward to working with DCF to implement this program, which will advance child welfare education and practice in the State of Connecticut.”

Visit the Field Education website for more information on the Connecticut Partnership for Child Welfare Excellence program.

New Study Shows Cambodian Refugees Have Poor Health Despite Access To Care

Dr. Megan Berthold, Assistant Professor at the UConn School of Social Work, has been collaborating closely with Khmer Health Advocates and the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma on a CDC funded study that documented the relationship between comorbid mental and physical health in Cambodian refugee survivors of the Pol Pot genocide. Cambodian refugees reported poor health despite access to care.

Photo of S. Meghan Berthold, Ph.D.
S. Megan Berthold, PhD

Assistant Professor

Khmer Health Advocates, located in West Hartford, is the only Cambodian-American health organization of its kind. The study surveyed 136 Cambodian refugees living in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The study confirms the link between depression, PTSD and chronic physical health conditions in Cambodian refugees.

Dr. Berthold is the lead author of an article about the study findings that recently appeared on-line (March 21, 2014) in the Journal of Community Health.

Link to the journal article.

Link to the Hartford Courant article.

Link to faculty profile.

Shaundricka Ranel MSW ’11 a Top Ten Semifinalist

Getting a job after passing the bar can be tough. But 10 third-year law students in nine states are one step closer to winning a new position – the top prize in a unique contest – and fulfilling their dreams of becoming attorneys who advocate for children. One of the ten semifinalists is UConn School of Social Work alumna, Shaundricka Ranel MSW ’11.

Photo of Schaundricka Ranel, MSW '11
Schaundricka Ranel, MSW ’11

BARBRI, a company that helps law school graduates prepare to take the bar exam has selected ten semi-finalists in its first-ever Public Interest Fellow competition. The winner will work at the global nonprofit Save the Children as a fellow in a year-long position created and funded by BARBRI.

“The job market for new lawyers is challenging,” said Mike Sims, an attorney and president of BARBRI. “We wanted to do something no one else has ever done to both encourage public service and benefit a nonprofit like Save the Children that does such important work at home and abroad.”

BARBRI designed the Public Interest Fellow program to promote social responsibility and increase awareness of alternative legal career paths. Contestants submitted short videos expressing why they want to work for the nonprofit dedicated to affecting immediate and lasting change for children in need across the country and around the world.

Most of the videos depict personal stories and experiences that inspired the students to go to law school and work with kids; the semi-finalists included imaginative elements that make their productions standouts. The common thread among all entrants is their desire to improve the lives of children, one of the society’s most vulnerable groups.

View video here: and vote for Shaundricka.