As Bobby Casiano completed his MSW degree, he reflected on what he appreciated about his two years at New York University Silver School of Social Work. “What stands out most of all are the relationships—with fellow students, with people in my field placements, and with professors,” he said. “I will always hold them close to my heart.”
Casiano, of Afro-Puerto Rican descent, grew up in Hartford, Connecticut. It was social work’s variety that attracted him: “You can work at the macro level planning and implementing policies and programs, or you can do direct clinical work.” The SSSW’s New York City location was a draw, affording the opportunity to work with people of other races, cultures, and ethnicities. As for the School itself, “I think of the building—small, warm, and intimate.”
Academically, Casiano learned to identify how systems affect people—the impact of a person’s social, cultural, educational, and economic environments on behavior. His clinical interests were ignited by studying with Professors Theresa Aiello and Jeffrey Seinfeld, with whom he did an independent study.
Casiano’s first year field placement was at a South Bronx public high school that used the portfolio model, challenging students to think critically and to write. He participated in individual, group, and family sessions; guided students to develop individual learning plans; and interacted with city and state systems, including child welfare agencies.
Casiano’s second year field placement was at the Ackerman Family Institute’s Diversity and Social Work program, which trains therapists of color to provide family therapy services. “We view families from a systemic perspective,” he said. Identifying the role of each family member to foster communication and healthy relationships.
Casiano gave back to the School in significant ways prior to graduation by serving as president of the Graduate Student Association (GSA). “We worked with the School to increase diversity among faculty and students. We looked at how we talk about race and ethnicity in our classroom instruction,” he said. The GSA’s projects during his tenure included participating with the Student Senators Council and the University Committee on Student Life to organize a benefit concert for Haitian relief, as well as establishing a chapter of Phi Alpha, the social work honor society.
Casiano has engaged in a variety of social work roles since his graduation from NYU Silver and has pursued additional higher education. He is now a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New York and Connecticut. Casiano has also served in supervisory and direct practice roles in hospitals, public schools, and community mental health centers. Casiano completed a second graduate degree at Columbia University and is currently a doctoral candidate in clinical social work at the University of Pennsylvania. Casiano’s research is focused on social support and protective factors for underrepresented groups in higher education. Casiano will continue his graduate education at Yale University in the Master of Arts in Religion program upon completing his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania.