Month: March 2022

Alumni Awards and Annual Meeting 2022

On May 7, 2022, the School of Social Work celebrated its inaugural Alumni Awards during its annual meeting. The details and awards winners are described below. Congratulations to our amazing alumni winners!

Alumni Award Winners 2022

2022 Winners

Emerging Social Worker Leader

Nary Rath, MSW ‘19, California Program Manager at SEARAC

This award honors an alumnus social worker who is at the beginning phase of their career and who has demonstrated outstanding leadership as a developing professional.

Nary Rath is a first-generation college graduate and the daughter of Cambodian refugees. She received her Master of Social Work from the UConn School of Social Work in 2019. She was an advanced standing student in the policy practice concentration and performed her internship at Hartford City Council. Since graduating, she was selected by the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) as a Congressional Fellow and relocated to Washington, DC where she fulfilled a 9-month fellowship in the office of Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV). In the Senate, she handled the Senator's human trafficking portfolio and had the opportunity to advocate for robust federal funding for services for survivors of trafficking. She also had the once in a lifetime opportunity to witness the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Following her fellowship, she began working as the immigration policy advocate for the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) where she advocated for progressive immigration reform for the Southeast Asian immigrant and refugee community.

Still with SEARAC, Nary is now their California Program Manager and has relocated to San Jose, California. She leads SEARAC's state-level programming through event planning, campaigns, trainings, coalition management, and support with community engagement and organizing. She fosters strong relationships with California partners, including through coalitions and partnerships on immigrant and refugee rights, health and mental health, education, and racial justice. Nary is also a published author and co-authored the book, "I Am Asian". Her passage explores her family's personal experience with the unjust immigration system in America and dealing with the mental health stigma within the Cambodian Community.

The Trailblazer Award

Dean Jones, MSW ‘15, Director of Peacebuilders at COMPASS

This award honors social work alumni who have graduated in the last 10 years and who have had significant impact within their profession, contributed to their community, and show promise of continued success.

As the Director of Peacebuilders, Dean is responsible for conceptualizing, developing, and facilitating the implementation of programming for the youth COMPASS serves. Any time of the day or night, you can find Dean on the streets of Hartford, working to build a community where youth feel safe, live peacefully, and could reach their full potential. Dean’s passion for working with high-risk youth is rooted in his personal experiences. As a young man, Dean faced many of the obstacles the youth he serves face. He knows what life on the streets is all about, and he knows what serving time in prison means.

Dean often says he is using his second chance to give youth their first chance. Dean was released from prison in 2005. He went back to school and received a bachelor’s degree, and in May 2015, his MSW from UCONN School of Social Work. Since his release from prison, Dean has been a tireless advocate for the youth in his community. Young people recognize Dean on the street and know they can trust him. Dean builds trusting relationships with youth to help them transform their lives. To say Dean has touched the lives of hundreds of Hartford’s highest-risk youth would not be an exaggeration. Whether meeting them on the basketball court or in the streets, Dean reaches young people in trouble and helps them build peace in their lives.

Outstanding Social Worker Award

Dr. Traci LaLiberte, MSW ‘97, Executive Director at Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, Minnesota Child Welfare Training Academy – University of Minnesota School of Social Work

This award honors alumni whose accomplishments, affiliations, and careers have made an outstanding impact and/or have been recognized within their field relevant to community/society in the present-day.

Dr. Traci LaLiberte is the Executive Director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW), in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota. Dr. LaLiberte manages this large research and training center while focusing her research on child welfare practice and policy with particular interest in child and parent disabilities. She has served as principal investigator (PI) on studies examining the intersection of child welfare and disability, child welfare and educational experiences of high risk youth, comprehensive assessment, evidence-based practice in treatment foster care settings, and the child welfare workforce. Dr. LaLiberte is the PI on a multi-year, federal child welfare education grant and a ten year, multi-million dollar State-University child welfare training academy. She provides broad oversight to the statewide longitudinal integrated data project, Minnesota Linking Information for Kids (Minn-LInK) and in recent years has worked with local counties to evaluate practice, including the implementation of the Children’s Bureau Comprehensive Family Assessment Guidelines, a federally funded, five-year demonstration project.

Dr. LaLiberte has worked as a practitioner in the fields of child welfare and developmental disabilities for more than 30 years. She has developed curriculum and facilitated local, national, and international level training on a wide variety of topics related to child welfare and disability. In addition to her consultation and her talks at conferences, Dr. LaLiberte has numerous publications in peer-reviewed research journals. She received her M.S.W. from the University of Connecticut and her doctorate from the University of Minnesota.

Jo Ann Simons

Outstanding Social Worker Award

JoAnn Simons, MSW ‘77, Chief Executive Officer at Northeast Arc

This award honors alumni whose accomplishments, affiliations, and careers have made an outstanding impact and/or have been recognized within their field relevant to community/society in the present-day.

Jo Ann Simons has over 40 years of experience in the intellectual and developmental disabilities field. Her progressive initiatives have included the creation of the ArcTank to fund innovative ideas to positively disrupt disability services, closing several sheltered workshops and transitioning the focus from sheltered employment to community job placement, innovative school to work programs, inclusive community living, movement from community residences to shared living models, and creating new environments to serve people using retail malls.

Jo Ann was named the CEO of the Northeast Arc in January 2016. The Northeast Arc has an operating budget of $300 million, with 1,100 employees and supports over 15,000 individuals in nearly 200 communities across Massachusetts. Northeast Arc’s latest initiative embodies Jo Ann’s spirit of bold invention. Under her leadership, Northeast Arc is creating a new resource—the Center for Linking Lives—in 26,000 square feet of highly visible retail space in the heart of the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers, Mass.  The Center serves as a vibrant gathering place, where individuals with disabilities can reach their full potential, and learn to lead fulfilling lives alongside their peers.  This is an exciting turning point for the communities Northeast Arc serves. And importantly it represents a scalable idea—with powerful implications far beyond Danvers and Boston’s North Shore.

Currently a member of the Governor’s Commission on Persons with I/DD and the Autism Commission, Jo Ann also served on Governor Charlie Baker’s Transition Committee on Health Care. She is past Chair of the National Down Syndrome Society and past President of the National Down Syndrome Congress. She is the former Chair of LIFE, Inc. of Cape Cod, she is also a Director of Century Bank and The Tufts Health Plan Foundation. She is the author of the Down Syndrome Transition Handbook (Woodbine House 2010). In addition, she created Footprints for the Future, a personal planning tool that provides a place for families and professionals to record specific and personal information as part of their future and estate planning.

Jo Ann has a BA from Wheaton College of Massachusetts and a MSW from the University of Connecticut. Her speaking engagements include presentations to professionals and parents and siblings of children with intellectual disabilities throughout the United States. Her international presentations include Dublin, Belfast, Guatemala City, and Nagano, Japan.

Outstanding Field Advisor Award

Dr. Catalina Caban-Owen, PhD ‘09, Adjunct Faculty and The University of Connecticut

This award honors a field advisor for their contributions and service to the UConn School of Social Work and its students.

Dr. Caban-Owen is very active in her community and is on many organizations and boards. She currently sits on the Windham Board of Education and works tirelessly on community campaigns providing Spanish speaking explanations and directions to those who attend and need interpretation making sure that everyone is able to participate.

Dr. Caban-Owen was a longtime school social worker in the Windham Public School system where she supported and mentor numerous students and families (1992-2018). She has been a faculty advisor and part-time adjunct faculty for UConn SSW from 2002 to present. She has served a faculty advisor to both Macro Social work students and clinical students. She is known for her tough but fair and supportive work with students. She is a faculty advisor and faculty member who will go above and beyond for her students as she considers her work with students and families a labor of love.

Dr. Caban-Owen takes on many social work advisees each year. She works with each student and providing both academic and field support and mentorship. When she was a school social worker, she always took students for field instruction providing them with the opportunity to observe and shadow her work and later to work individually under her guidance. She has mentored many students this way over the years. She also steps up and provides field instruction for agencies in Windham that do not staff a social worker, liked the Windham Regional Community Council, Inc. Windham Youth Services Bureau.

Barbie Nadal-Cristofaro

Outstanding Volunteer Award

Barbie Nadal-Cristofaro, MSW ‘16, Founder at Ends2Meet LLC

This award honors alumni for their dedication to the advancement of the UConn SSW Alumni Office’s strategic goals.

Barbie Nadal-Cristofaro is from New York City and is a graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, class of 2016. Most recently, completed the Educational Leadership Program at Sacred Heart University in 2020. Mrs. Cristofaro continues to grow through one of her passions which is outreach. She is the founder and owner of Ends2meet LLC, creating awareness on social justice issues, providing resources, and counseling services in English and Spanish. Mrs. Cristofaro is a graduate of Hartford Public Schools and has dedicated her adult years to education. She has worked for Hartford Public Schools since 2008 and is currently employed as a school social worker with the district. She has a special place in her heart for English learners and recalls how difficult it was to manage her native language in Spanish while learning English. In addition to the many years in the Hartford school system, she has many years of experience working in the community, namely in Hartford with outreach, community engagements and collaboration with community-based organizations while working in education. She extends her knowledge to interns from the Springfield College of Social Work as well as for the University of Connecticut’s School of Social Work.

Mrs. Cristofaro resides in Rocky Hill, CT with her husband Victor, who is also in education and a graduate of the University of Connecticut. Together they are raising the two youngest children at home. They enjoy traveling outside of the United States, photography, enjoy new vegan recipes, friendships, and family time.

Charlotte Kinlock

Lifetime Achievement Award

Charlotte Kinlock, CLAS '75, MSW '81, Founder at Kinlock & Company

This award honors an alumni social worker who has made significant contributions or developed model programs that have been replicated and has been in the field for at least 25 years.

Charlotte Kinlock received her MSW from the UCONN School of Social Work in 1981, with a major in Community Organizing. During her time as a student, Charlotte organized the first “lesbian and gay” field placement in the school’s history. Because she listed this placement on her resume, she faced very direct, explicit discrimination as she searched for a job after graduation. She took on a few low-paying service sector jobs to pay the bills and eventually was awarded a Title XX grant to train nonprofit agencies focused on mental health and addiction services about how to be more sensitive when working with their lesbian and gay clients. This Title XX grant was the first federal grant in Connecticut focused on lesbian and gay issues.

Charlotte went on to serve as the Executive Director of the CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Education Director of the CT Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF), and spent a decade as the principal of a training company focused on sexual harassment prevention and workforce diversity. For over ten years, Charlotte served as an adjunct professor at the UCONN School of Social Work, teaching both Macro Practice Foundation and Political Advocacy classes.

In 1985, Charlotte became the first co-director of the all-volunteer CT Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, the lead grassroots organization behind the passage of the state’s “Gay Right’s Law,” which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in areas of employment, housing, credit and public accommodations. The passage of that bill in 1991, after 18 years of being introduced and seven long years of intensive grassroots organizing, brought Charlotte full circle. After being told in 1981—upon graduation from the UCONN School of Social Work—that she was not going to be hired because she was a lesbian, to helping to lead the effort to pass legislation that explicitly prohibited that kind of discrimination, was incredibly satisfying. And the skills she learned as a Community Organizing student at UCONN were invaluable.

Charlotte lives in Avon with Anne Stanback, her wife of nearly 40 years, and their two pups, Dash and Nugget.

Scholarship Recipients 2022

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the School of Social Work is able to offer a number of scholarship opportunities to our BSW, MSW, and Ph.D. students each academic year. These scholarships not only help students meet their financial obligations but also  recognize their academic achievements and contributions to the social work profession. Congratulations to our scholarship recipients!

BSW Award

Raymond and Mary Borecki Buck Endowed Scholarship Fund

Mary Borecki Buck is an UConn School of Social Work alumna committed to supporting the education of future generations of social workers. This scholarship, created by Mary and her late husband, Raymond, will provide financial support to a student enrolled in the Bachelor of Social Work program.

Avery Smith, Bachelor of Social Work

I want to thank you for your generous Raymond and Mary Borecki Buck Endowed Scholarship. It allows me to not only continue my studies, but it helps pay for my tuition and for books so I do not have to worry about the cost of finishing up my education. I plan to pursue a career in social justice which includes advocating and counseling young girls and women who have experienced injustices and trauma. My goal one day is to travel to different countries to support these women with counseling and proper education, and through this, hopefully, to write a book based on my experiences. I want to be a social worker because I want to give those who do not have a voice.

MSW Awards

Dr. Albert Alissi School of Social Work Scholarship Fund

This scholarship was established in memory of Dr. Albert S. Alissi, faculty emeritus, to provide financial assistance to a student conducting group work practice.

Jocelyn Rossitto, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

The impact that this scholarship has on my life is more than I can put into words. Receiving this scholarship helps to remind me that I'm on the right path, that the work I'm doing is meaningful. This scholarship helps give me peace of mind financially to continue through this program. After my MSW, my goal is to work in the criminal justice system, practicing social work in a juvenile detention center. I have always been passionate about criminal justice reform and lowering our country’s recidivism rate through rehabilitative practices. I’ve found that I’m fulfilled by my current work with juveniles in a youth service bureau, and hope to continue making a difference in our youth’s lives and futures through my future work in the criminal justice system.

Charlotte M. Kinlock Endowment Fund in Social Work

Established by Charlotte M. Kinlock, graduate of the school and adjunct faculty member. This award provides financial assistance to a student in a field placement working on LGBTQIA+ issues and provides financial support to school-sponsored organizations and activities that promote an understanding of LGBTQIA+ issues.

Patrick Muro, Individuals, Groups and Families concentration

Thank you for your generosity. I truly appreciate receiving Charlotte M. Kinlock Endowment Fund in Social Work. It is meaningful to know that my work and contributions to the LGBTQ+ community has been recognized. Last year, along with a coworker, I started a Mental Health support group for college aged Transgender students. My future career goal is to work in the substance use prevention work with LGBTQ+ youth.

Dr. Adelaide Sandler Master of Social Work Student Support Fellowship

Kelly Tanner, Individuals, Groups and Families concentration

Donna Millette-Fridge Scholarship

This scholarship was established in memory of Donna Millette-Fridge by the School of Social Work in recognition of her commitment to helping the mentally ill become self-sufficient.

Avery Smith, Bachelor of Social Work

I am writing to thank you for your generous scholarship. It allows me to not only continue my studies, but it helps pay for my tuition and for books. I plan to pursue a career in social justice which includes advocating and counseling young girls and women who have experienced injustices and trauma. My goal is to travel to different countries to support these women with counseling and proper education, and through this, hopefully, to write a book based on my experiences. I want to be a social worker because I want to give those who do not have a voice. I want to make a difference in the mental health system by inspiring a new generation to stand up and speak for what's right.

Esther R. Pahl Fellowship for Social Work Excellence

Esther Pahl is a 1952 graduate of the School of Social Work. She credits her UConn social work education for her long and meaningful career caring for others. She established this scholarship to provide meaningful support to a student in need with an interest in working in a mental health setting.

Rachel Brennan, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

I am writing today to thank you for your generosity. This scholarship will assist me with my commuting costs, book purchases, parking expenses, and general living expenses. I am completing my field placement at Yale New Haven Hospital’s Intensive Outpatient Program, interning in the Transitional-Aged Youth general mental health track with individuals ranging from 18-25 years old. Many of the clients were recently hospitalized and are adjusting to being back in the community. My work at the IOP has been incredibly meaningful and has confirmed for me that I want to work with this population. I have really seen the value of group work and teaching coping skills to individuals with mental health difficulties.

Amanda Sullivan, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

I cannot thank you enough for your generous donation. This scholarship will help me afford tuition and textbooks for my classes. This semester I’ve become very passionate about working with adolescents and adults. I’m currently placed at Pinnacle Behavioral Health in West Hartford, CT for my field placement. It is an IOP dedicated to working with adolescents who are currently experiencing depression, anxiety, as well as school refusal, maladaptive eating, self-injury and suicidal ideation. I currently facilitate the middle school dialectical behavioral therapy group and this is where I’ve realized my passion for working with adolescents. My plan is continuing to work in the group setting and IOP services, specifically with individuals who are experiencing self-harm, depression and anxiety.

Frank V. Carollo Scholarship Fund

Mr. Frank Carollo was a 1953 graduate of the UConn School of Social Work who worked part-time while attaining his education. He established this scholarship to assist students who find it necessary to work to supplement their living expenses while attending school.

Alison Allen, Individuals, Groups & Families concentration

Thank you so very much for your generous donation for this scholarship. Once I decided on a career path, UConn was the only choice for me. Now I'm in my second semester, I am interning at Perception Programs in Storrs, where I have a generous caseload of college students and local residents that I offer therapeutic counseling to. I have an excellent manager and an absolute gift of a field advisor to help me navigate questions as they come up. I love learning from the hands-on work. I want to thank you again for your generosity. Your donation helps me to delay getting paid employment a little bit longer so that I can concentrate on my studies and give my best to my clients at my internship. I truly am so grateful.

Elena Appleton, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

Thank you very much for your incredible generosity. In these uncertain times, every little bit of financial assistance helps, especially as I am in school full time and my husband has been supporting both of us on his teacher’s salary since early 2020. As my concentration is in individuals, groups, and families, I plan to go on to get my LCSW when I graduate so I can work with adults as a psychotherapist. I currently work part-time for a somatic therapy clinic which has afforded me the opportunity to learn about this niche specialty, piquing my interest in the power of mindfulness specifically around the treatment of PTSD.

Christopher Cocchi, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

I wanted to thank you for your generous scholarship gift. I have been interested in going into the counseling and Social Work field for some time, starting as early as childhood when I wanted to help others who were being targeted or teased. I continued this desire to help others into my undergraduate work, and afterwards in my career working with students in special education. My intention was then to continue onto graduate school to further my education, but my work was impacted by the pandemic, which made saving more difficult. This scholarship relieves much of this tension. I want to dedicate myself to work towards obtaining my MSW degree, and from there LCSW certification. I am excited to continue this program to see where it can lead me.

Celina Fernandez-Ayala, Community Organizing concentration

Thank you for your generosity! Without this scholarship I would not have been able to afford my final semester of the MSW program. The pandemic, my transition to a new position as an Organizing Fellow, commuting to Hartford, and balancing schoolwork and class time have strained my finances. When I graduate, my employer plans to hire me as a full-time Community Organizer for education equity in Connecticut. I chose the community organizing track to work alongside my fellow Black and Brown kin to dismantle racism and all other social injustices. What I love most about UConn is the brilliant and supportive groups of friends that I made here!

Betsy Hebert, Individuals, Groups & Families concentration

I thank you with sincere gratitude for providing me with this generous scholarship. I chose my course of study because I am interested in supporting the needs of children who can not speak for themselves and are often marginalized and oppressed. These are challenging times especially with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic. Addressing the mental health needs of our society has become ever more urgent. UConn has allowed me with an invaluable opportunity to receive a high-quality education which will afford me the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of human welfare especially in marginalized people. On the completion of my education I hope that I can exemplify UConn's mission to not only receive a quality education but to contribute to the needs of society.

Ebony Holloway, Individuals, Groups & Families concentration

Thank you for your generosity in awarding me this scholarship. It provides me with much financial relief, as a mother of three paying for not only my own but my son's college tuition. My goal is to obtain my Master of Social Work degree, which will allow me to work with children and adolescents, either as a school or medical social worker. Working in the school system and having a field placement in a healthcare setting has allowed me to first-hand see how much of an impact I could make on children thanks to my education at UConn. UConn has given me the knowledge and confidence to be the social worker I know I can be.

Brianna Johnson, Individuals, Groups & Families concentration

I am so grateful and humbled to be chosen as the recipient for this scholarship. This award means so much to me due to some of the financial stress it helps alleviate, especially as a working mother with a full-time course load. It also provides motivating recognition that the hard work and long hours I have committed to myself, this program, and my future clients, have not gone unnoticed. I am extremely fortunate to continue my education at the UConn School of Social Work, with plans for a career in clinical social work, because of generous donors like you. Thank you.

Lorena Martinez, Public Policy concentration

I am very grateful for your generosity through this scholarship! With the Frank V. Carollo scholarship, I am able to head into the semester with a little more ease. I am seeking a Master's in Social Work to have the skillset to make a positive impact and work alongside marginalized and vulnerable communities, both in the United States and in Latin America. Social Work is giving me the opportunity to understand the root causes of injustice and the tools to challenge it. I am grateful to have a UConn education for the rigorous and well-balanced curriculum with dedicated and passionate professors. It is truly a gift to be here!

Jamal Neal, Individuals, Groups and Families concentration

I am so grateful to receive this scholarship! It allows me to pursue my education here at UConn while alleviating some of my financial burden. I am currently a joint degree student between here and Yale Divinity School. My hope for the future is to be able to create environments in which marginalized folks can show up as their full selves, actively participate in their environments, and be celebrated and encouraged to grow throughout their personal life journeys. For me, meaning-making is done through my religious and faith experiences. UConn has been providing me with the tools necessary to engage people and to meet them where they are.

Jacquelyn Perreault, Individuals, Groups and Families concentration

Thank you so much for your generosity in awarding me the Frank V. Carollo Scholarship. I am honored and encouraged to be chosen as a scholarship recipient. Your donation has enabled me to stay involved in the Hartford community, where I live and work, while attending school full-time. My professors, classmates, and educational experiences at UConn have affirmed my decision to pursue social work, and I am eager to begin my first field placement in the fall. As a social worker, I hope to work with children and immigrant populations, and I'm so thankful for your help in achieving this dream. Thank you for supporting social work in our region and thank you for contributing to my growth as a social worker.

Krista Sansone, Individuals, Groups & Families concentration

As one of the recipients of your scholarship this semester I would like to sincerely thank you for this award. As I wrote in my application, balancing work with my education has been very challenging and this award will help ease some of this pressure. After graduation I plan to take the test to get my LMSW and eventually work to get my LCSW. I am currently completing my field education at the Community Health Center in Meriden. I have really enjoyed the environment and work I do there and intend to continue working for groups that advocate for accessible health care. I chose this field because of my interest in mental health care and believe that everyone deserves access to quality care.

Alona Scott, Individuals, Groups & Families concentration

Thank you so much for choosing me as a recipient of the Frank V. Carollo Scholarship! I genuinely value this additional support to help me cover my education costs. After graduating, I intend to work primarily with adolescents in a trauma-informed setting who have been impacted by the legal system. As a result of your generous donation, you are creating the opportunity for me to amplify the voices of this underserved population. I will forever be grateful to the UConn community, as well as Frank V. Carollo, for your unwavering generosity and support.

Lexie Soja, Individuals, Groups & Families concentration

Your generosity has been a privilege and an honor to receive. This scholarship will aid in the beginning of my career, as I will be graduating this upcoming May. I'm currently completing my final field placement in the Pediatric Endocrinology Outpatient Clinic at Connecticut Children’s. My goal is to continue a career in medical social work. I'm fully determined to continue working with and advocating for vulnerable populations who are disproportionately impacted due to healthcare disparities.

Michaela Tripputi, Individuals, Groups & Families concentration

Thank you so much for your generosity! I am so appreciative to have received this scholarship. Especially during these uncertain times, it means a lot to have some assistance. This is my first semester at UConn for my Masters in Social Work. I am so excited to expand my knowledge and learn from my teachers, peers and field placements. With this degree I hope to work with adolescents to young adults who are struggling with their mental health, particularly in the juvenile legal system. My ultimate goal is to be able to provide resources and support for individuals in need. I can’t thank you enough for the generous donation and opportunity it provides me to keep learning to reach my goals!

Shanieka Welsh, Individuals, Groups & Families concentration

I am writing to thank you for your generous donation. Being an agent of change and an individual who creates tiny ripples of hope has been a dream of mine since I established and managed a non-profit organization at the age of sixteen which catered to the less fortunate in my birth country, Jamaica. UConn has further helped to keep this passion aflame through their commitment to providing students with a quality learning experience. I truly enjoy their commitment to inclusion and justice and the hands-on experience provided through my studies at this prestigious university. Your generosity has inspired me to help others and to give back to the community. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me.

Dr. Julio Morales Jr. Fellowship Endowment

Established in honor of Dr. Julio Morales Jr., retired professor, Dean of Students, and founder of the Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies Project, the Fellowship provides financial support to an MSW student who demonstrates a commitment to engaging in outreach programs in the Latino community and has, or will have, completed their field education practicum in the Latino community. Preference given to students who are fluent in both English and Spanish.

Ana Torres Cervantes, Individuals, Groups and Families concentration

Thank you so much for your generosity! This scholarship helps me to continue the work that I am doing now with underserved individuals as it will fund my license exam! I look forward to continuing to provide mental health services for some of our most vulnerable communities and populations once I graduate with my Master's in Social Work in May. My passion stems from being someone who grew up as part of an underserved population and wishing there was more available for my family and those around me. I want to thank you again for your generosity. Being able to receive this scholarship ensures I continue to believe that I am capable of whatever I put my heart into!

Ivor J. Echols Endowment Fund

Friends and colleagues of the late Dr. Ivor J. Echols, faculty member and prominent member of the African American community, established this award in her honor on her retirement.

Jessica Lewis, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

Thank you for your generosity and support as I work toward achieving my MSW. As an African American woman who grew up in the inner city, I always knew that I wanted to dedicate my career to serving my community. I aspire to work as a medical social worker in urban underserved communities to provide support to those greatly impacted by health disparities. Your scholarship will help me in achieving this goal. Thank you again for your investment in students, such as myself who strive to make a difference in the world. I will remember your generosity and I hope to give back to other students in the future just as you have graciously given to me.

Karen Kellerman and Peter Arakas Fellowship in Social Work

Karen Kellerman and Peter Arakas are both proud graduates of the UConn School of Social Work. They created this scholarship to provide financial support for MSW students.

Eunices Pineda, Community Organizing concentration

It is an honor to be chosen for the Karen Kellerman and Peter Arakas Fellowship. The scholarship provides financial support and relief to continue my career in social work and public health. In Ecuador, I witnessed how sociocultural factors and a broken system cause social inequities, specifically affecting individuals from vulnerable communities. At age 13, I learned the harsh reality in my country, my grandmother was hospitalized in a public hospital. During this time, I witnessed the despair of others who had similar conditions but were unable to afford health care. Learning this reality encouraged me to pursue a career in public health and social work. As a future social worker, I want to advocate against social inequities, empowering communities to have a voice.

The LeBoeuf Johnson Master of Social Work Scholarship Fund

George LeBoeuf is a recent graduate of the School of Social Work, who, along with his wife, Shevonn Johnson, created this scholarship to support the educational needs of students enrolled in the Master’s of Social Work program.

Meghan OConnor

Meghan O'Connor, Individuals, Groups and Families concentration

I am so grateful to be a recipient of the LeBoeuf Johnson Master of Social Work Scholarship Fund. I am about to complete my MSW, and while working multiple jobs in addition to grad school this scholarship will be of great financial help, particularly with student debt. I am a person in long-term recovery and completing this MSW is a huge step towards working in addiction treatment for the rest of my career. Again, I am so grateful for your support of my studies and for other aspiring social workers.

Mary Deane-Scalora Endowment Fund

This scholarship was established in memory of Mary Deane-Scalora, MSW, by her family to provide financial assistance to a master’s level student with demonstrated interest in working with or for the advancement of the poor in a social services agency or educational institution.

Emory Fairchild, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

This generous award allows me to continue my education in the Master of Social Work program. I hope to get my LCSW and practice as a clinical social worker in marginalized and underserved communities for some time before going back to school to get my PhD in Social Work so that I may conduct my own research. I would love to learn more about interventions that improve the mental wellness of oppressed youth. I am currently at a field practicum at Noah Webster Micro-Society Magnet School in Hartford, where I work as a school social worker with middle-school aged children. Receiving this type of financial aid makes a huge difference to my graduate experience.

Mary Porter Wright and John Wright Fellowship in Social Work

Mary Porter Wright is an alumna from UConn School of Social Work.

Gina Squitieri, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

Thank you for your generosity in awarding me this scholarship. It helps provide both economic relief and a sense of self confidence knowing that someone else can acknowledge my resilience. Living with epilepsy I have managed to live as normal of a life as possible, including maintaining a part time job. However, living in the suburbs with a lack of public transportation has made it difficult to work to my fullest potential. I chose to complete a degree in social work to give back to a community that faces chronic and acute health ailments. Outside of school I am working on becoming an ambassador for the Epilepsy Foundation to expand my skills by advocating on a macro level and spreading awareness about this chronic illness.

Mary Ellen and John D. Killeen Master of Social Work Scholarship Fund

Mary Ellen Killeen is a School of Social Work graduate who established this fund to provide financial support for students enrolled in the Master’s of Social Work program.

James Stone, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

I would like to thank Mary Ellen and John D. Killeen for their generous scholarship. This award will allow me to pursue my Masters of Social Work with less of a financial burden. It also motivates me to continue to work hard and stay focused so that I become the best possible social worker. I chose this field because I recognize that public servants like social workers are going to be needed now more than ever to advocate on behalf of their clients and provide support to those seeking help with an array of issues that plague our society. My goal is to integrate mental, physical, and emotional components of health into my practice. I believe that a holistic approach to wellness is the most effective way to treat the clients I will serve.

Miriam Silverman Memorial Scholarship

The Miriam Silverman Memorial Scholarship was established in her memory by her husband and friends to provide financial support to students in need.

Audra Panciera, Community Organizing concentration

I am extraordinarily grateful for the generosity of the Miriam Silverman Memorial Scholarship. Balancing field work, classes, family responsibilities, and a job has been a challenging but rewarding experience. Particularly during the pandemic, when employment can be unpredictable, this scholarship provides financial support that is very appreciated. I chose to go into social work, and community organizing specifically, because of the profession’s commitment to social justice. I hope to utilize my MSW to join others in doing the work to create a more equitable society. I am particularly passionate about climate justice, food justice, and immigrant justice, but I am open and eager to work in any area that furthers the social work mission. Thank you again for this scholarship and for believing in my future as a social worker.

Murry Shapiro Endowed Scholarship Fund

Paul Shapiro, a retired assistant attorney general and former Mayor of Mansfield, Connecticut, established the Murry Shapiro Scholarship in memory of his late father, a former member of the Group Work faculty who taught at the School of Social Work.

Holly Savitsky, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

I would like to sincerely thank you for your generous scholarship. For someone like me, every single dollar counts. I'm about to graduate with my MSW and I couldn't have gotten this far without a lot of help from the community. I'm hoping that in the future I'll be in a position to donate to scholarship funds for social work students.

Nancy Tarr Berdon Fund

The family of Nancy Tarr Berdon established this award in memory of Tarr Berdon, a noted professional social worker in the New Haven area committed to working with the poor.

Audrey Duhaime, Individuals, Groups and Families concentration

I am beyond grateful to have been awarded the Nancy Tarr Berdon scholarship. I feel immense gratitude as such a generous gift is truly a blessing. Thank you so much for the opportunity to accept this award. In my final year at UConn, I will remember receiving this award as an MSW student for the rest of my life. As I finish up this semester, this award provides a magnitude of assistance for student expenses. Receiving this award has allowed me to focus on my studies, field placement and finish the year out strong.

Matthew Stayner

Matthew Stayner, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

Thank you so much for your generous scholarship. This scholarship will help me to focus more of my energy and time on becoming the best, most effective social worker that I can be. Following graduation, I intend to work with vulnerable populations, particularly those who are homeless or housing insecure and those with addictions. Your gift will allow me to become an effective social worker and to learn skills that I will use to help people in our communities who are at risk and in need of help.

Peter Petrella Fellowship for the School of Social Work

The Peter Petrella fund supports fellowships for incoming or continuing graduate students enrolled full-time in the School of Social Work. Students may be incoming or continuing and must demonstrate academic achievement. Priority will be given to students who demonstrate financial need.

Cassidy McHugh, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

I wanted to take this time to thank you for your generosity. This scholarship gives me the opportunity to not have to worry so much about the financial aspect of school and really dive deep into my studies. I graduated with my bachelor's degree from the University of New Haven in criminal justice this past May and my goal is to work with adolescents in the juvenile justice system. I have learned a tremendous amount on how to work with clients, especially with kids. Much of this comes through in my internship at a middle school. I look forward to the future and being able to apply all that I have learned at UConn to my practice.

Shirley & Howard Dickstein Scholarship Fund

This scholarship was established by Shirley and Howard Dickstein to assist students with their expenses while attending school.

Kailey Bousquet, Individuals, Groups & Family Practice

Thank you so much for your generosity in awarding me this scholarship! This support will help alleviate some of the financial burdens that come with pursuing higher education and allow me to maintain focus on reaching my academic and professional goals in social work. I will forever be grateful for the knowledge and experiences the program, my professors, and my peers have provided me, and I look forward to using my newly acquired skills and education to provide for and learn from others. Although it is bittersweet that my time as a student at the UConn School of Social Work will be coming to an end soon, I feel confident that I have been prepared to enter the world of social work and be successful in it.

Kimberley Persaud, Community Organizing concentration

I was extremely excited when I received my letter informing me I was chosen for the Shirley and Howard Dickstein Scholarship Fund. Your contribution of this scholarship helps me immensely as I complete my last year in the Master of Social Work program at UConn and provides me with financial support and encouragement. As a first-generation college student, I selected to pursue my MSW because I enjoy meeting members in my community and collaborating with local agencies and small businesses to help create resources and opportunities for families. I hope to positively impact the field of social work by supporting, advocating, and empowering members in the community. Upon graduation, my goal is to work with The Department of Children and Families and continue to work with children in foster care and help aid sibling reunification.

Ph.D. Awards

Rollin Williams/Y.C. Wu Dissertation Research Fellowship

The School of Social Work Ph.D. program offers the Rollin Williams/Y.C. Wu Dissertation Research Fellowship each year. The fellowship is intended to foster a research-oriented academic culture within the PhD program. The proposal process encourages doctoral students to model and meet the requirements for succeeding in competition for funds by defining a problem, a research project, and a timeline to complete the dissertation.

One to two awards of $5,000 may be made per year. Doctoral students are eligible for the fellowship following the successful defense of their dissertation proposal. Students may receive this award once during their tenure in the Ph.D. program and are encouraged to use the award as support for activities related to dissertation research, including data collection and travel. A sub-committee of the Doctoral Committee will select award recipients.

Rollin Williams/Y.C. Wu Dissertation Writing Fellowship

The School of Social Work Ph.D. program offers the Rollin Williams/Y.C. Wu Dissertation Writing Fellowship each year. The fellowship is intended to foster a research-oriented academic culture within the PhD program, and is designed to provide support to PhD students in the final stages of completing their dissertation.

One to two awards of $5,000 may be made per year. Doctoral students are eligible for the fellowship if they are prepared to complete their dissertation within the one-year period following receipt of the fellowship. Students may receive this award once during their tenure in the PhD program and are encouraged to use the award as support to promote the timely completion of the PhD. A sub-committee of the Doctoral Committee will select award recipients.

Cristina Wilson Scholarship

The Cristina Wilson Scholarship aims to support Ph.D. students' financial needs as they complete their degrees.

Davidson Dissertation Stipend

The Davidson Dissertation Stipend provides funding Ph.D. student travel related to completing their dissertations.

Alberto Cifuentes Jr., MSW, Doctoral Candidate

2019–2020 Rollin Williams/ Y.C. Wu Dissertation Research Fellowship

2020–2021 Davidson Dissertation Stipend

I am very grateful for these two awards and plan on using them to offset the costs of my research. I am open to the many possibilities a doctoral degree has to offer. While I would very much like to teach at an institution that values both pedagogy and research, I am also open to working at a non-profit or research division as a consultant, associate, or executive director. I am very committed to educating the new generation of social workers, so life after my PhD will need to involve teaching at a BSW or MSW level. I am also open to pursuing a post-doctoral program that will enhance my skills in mixed methods research and community-based research, especially community-based participation action research (CBPAR). For my dissertation, I am examining the impact that stigma has on the sexual health and substance use outcomes of online male sex workers who have sex with men. After getting my PhD, I would like to initiate and implement community-based research where sex workers will be co-researchers and be involved in their own liberation from systemic oppression. My goal is to amplify the voices of sex workers, ensure their safety and rights, and improve their access to vital social services, including housing, employment, education, and healthcare. These awards have only bolstered my resolve to transform my research into a vehicle for social change and use this research as an avenue for building community and solidarity with sex workers nationwide.

Maureen Dimock Clark, MSW, LICSW

Maureen Dimock Clark, MSW, Doctoral Candidate

2019–2020 Rollin Williams/Y.C. Wu Dissertation Writing Fellowship

I am incredibly honored to be the recipient of the Rollin Williams/Y.C. Wu Dissertation Writing Fellowship. This award has been critical to completing my dissertation on the lived experience of involuntary civil commitment in early adulthood. The funding has served as a support to my writing covering such expenses as editing software. It has also afforded me the opportunity to have more work-life balance allowing me to reduce the amount of paid work I take on. This is immeasurable as I try to balance completing my PhD and being present for the rest of my life, particularly with my family.

Completion of my PhD will allow me to continue in my tenure track faculty position preparing the next generation of social workers. I plan to continue conducting research that is focused on promoting the voices of lived experience and exploring both implicit and explicit forms of coercion across mental health treatment settings. My hope is that my current and future research will inform social work education and practice in ways that encourage greater integration of human rights and social justice within mental health.

Grace Felten, MSW, Doctoral Candidate

2021-2022 Cristina Wilson Scholarship

I am honored and excited to receive the 2021-2022 Cristina Wilson Scholarship. The scholarship will greatly assist me in completing my Ph.D. Currently, I am working on my dissertation exploring the impact of forced migration on the health of refugee women in Greece and the United States with an emphasis on reproductive health. As part of this analysis, I am looking at the role that community volunteers and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) play in an attempt to fill in the gaps left by governments for services related to health and wellbeing.

One of my goals is to increase the involvement of social workers in issues related to migration as there is a currently a lack of involvement in this area. I would like to help bridge connections between social workers and other humanitarian workers in this area and support them through my research using a human rights lens. Additionally, my hope is that my work contributes to the prioritization of reproductive health in humanitarian settings and to viewing reproductive health in a more comprehensive manner. This scholarship will allow me to work toward these goals and the completion of my dissertation.

Children and Grief: A Developmental Perspective

Ruth Pearlman, LCSW, LICSW, MEd

Register Now for CE programs now

Wednesday, April 20, 2022
10 am – 12 pm
2 CECs

$40 – UConn SSW Alumni and Current Field Instructors
$50 – All Others

Webinar link will be emailed when your registration is complete.

Even before COVID children were grieving losses that were not largely recognized or understood. COVID has magnified the grief experience of children on multiple levels.
This webinar will explore children’s concepts of death and non-death losses from a developmental perspective. We will apply Piaget’s Cognitive Theory to understand how
children conceptualize loss at each stage of development.

In this webinar, we will:

  • review Piaget’s Cognitive Theory and apply it to children’s understanding of loss
  • identify a spectrum of non-death losses in childhood
  • examine the role of magical thinking in children’s developmental understanding of loss
  • identify modern grief terminology
  • specifically examine the loss and grief trajectory in the lives of children in foster/alternative care

Fatherhood Engagement and Social Connections

Qur-an Webb, MSW and colleagues from Welcome 2 RealityRegister Now for CE programs

Tues, July 26, 2022
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm, eastern time
2 CECs

$40 – UConn SSW Alumni and Current Field Instructors
$50 – All Others

Webinar link will be emailed when your registration is complete.

This webinar will examine the importance of engagement with fathers and father figures in positive child development. Trainers Marcus Stallworth and Qur-an Webb will discuss strategies to eliminate barriers that interfere with father involvement and encourage opportunities to increase success of having fathers, father figures, and paternal relatives involved. The webinar will incorporate breakout sessions to address information on co-parenting, engaging mothers as gatekeepers, legal rights pertaining to child support and paternity, young fatherhood parenting, and empowering fathers.

Participants in this webinar will:

• examine how fatherlessness impacts the community
• discuss the benefits of father involvement
• explore strategies on how to engage fathers

Surviving COVID Fatigue

Jennifer Berton, PhD, LICSW, CADC-II

Monday, March 14, 2022Register Now for CE programs now
10 am – 12 pm
2 CECs

$40 – UConn SSW Alumni and Current Field Instructors
$50 – All Others

When COVID initially arrived, clinicians jumped into crisis mode to help our clients manage the myriad issues that came with it. Two years later, the pandemic is still here and we are exhausted, frustrated and needing specific tools to help manage it all. This webinar will target the characteristics of COVID-specific Burnout and the needed tools to address it.