By: Katherine Prull '19
BASW, MSW, DSW, and Ph.D. students from the Rutgers School of Social Work celebrated their graduation at the Convocation ceremony held on Monday, May 14, 2018 in the Louis Brown Athletic Center (RAC) on the Livingston campus. Families and friends packed the center to share their support for students who have spent years of hard work to earn their degrees in social work. This year, over 880 students received their degrees, after tackling countless hours of field work, research, and class time. Overall, 129 students received their BASW degrees, 731 students received their MSW degrees, 19 students earned their DSW degree, and seven students conferred their Ph.D. degrees.
Several faculty and staff members received recognition. The Outstanding Professor of the Year Award was given to Assistant Professor of Teaching, Marla Blunt-Carter. The Supportive Staff Award went to Program Coordinator, Janice Svizeny. The Most Supportive Professor Award was given to Instructor and Field Coordinator for the MSW Aging & Health Certificate Program, Jeanne Koller. The Innovative and Creative Teaching Award was given to Associate Professor Jerry Floersch. Finally, students nominated Charles Goldstein for the Outstanding Adjunct Instructor Award and the Outstanding Doctoral Student Instructor Award was awarded to Katie Findley.
In addition to the faculty and staff member honors, many students also received recognition, as well. The Dean's Recognition Award to an Outstanding Student in Management and Policy was given to Kaysie Getty. In addition, Simone Snyder received the Dean's Recognition Award to an outstanding MSW Graduate. Cara Harmon also received a Dean's Recognition Award for Outstanding Student in Clinical Social Work. Lastly, the Dean's Recognition Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation was awarded to Beth Sapiro.
Accomplished actor, singer/songwriter, and social activist, Bryan Terrell Clark, served as the guest speaker. Terrell Clark is known for both his lead role as George Washington in Broadway's Hamilton, as well as his position in the social justice arena. He leverages his fame as a springboard to shed light onto and create change for many issues such as immigration and at-risk youth.
Prior to his speech, Terrell Clark received the Voice for Social Justice Award. Dean Cathryn C. Potter explained the reasoning for this honor. "He does not live in the bubble that fame can bring. He has also chosen to make a difference for at risk youth, through his social enterprise, INDEFINED, a brand that has raised over $80,000 for charities, philanthropic organizations, and arts education."
In his remarks, Terrell Clark offered a moving portrait of what it means to be a social justice advocate. "All things work together for the good. If you live life with that mindset, you can craft the kind of life you want to lead." He also had an important reminder for those about to embark on a professional life that is based largely on serving others. "If you want to maximize what you want to give to the world, take care of yourself first." His remarks were met by a standing ovation from the students.
As the event concluded, Dean Potter had her own words of inspiration to the new graduates. "You have been prepared for a wonderful career in social work, by an outstanding group of faculty and field instructors. We wish you great success. Our hope is that each of you will find creative ways to make a difference in the lives of the people and communities you serve. We are so very proud of you!"
Congratulations, graduates of the Class of 2018 and welcome to the alumni community of the Rutgers School of Social Work!