Growing up in southern California, Sapna Mendon was raised in a family where social justice, equal rights, and the value of counseling were woven into the fabric of her life. Her mother was an occupational therapist, and it seemed almost natural to be interested in the skills of therapeutic counseling. Mendon eventually became interested in issues related to the effects of oppression and, in terms of a career choice, felt that “even more than psychology, social work concerned itself with social justice.”
How does culture or ethnic background affect the help-seeking behavior of victims? “There are cultural aspects common in Latino, Asian, and African communities—family honor, putting your children above yourself—and a host of reasons why many women don’t want to disclose that they are victims of intimate partner violence,” Mendon said. “And when a woman does disclose [in these cultures], especially to family, she is usually advised by her family to stay in the relationship. If someone involved is undocumented, it can also draw unwanted attention to the family,” she added.
Mendon’s first-year field placement was at Children’s Aid Society–Next Generation Center, an agency that provides services for youth ages 14-24, particularly troubled youth, youth involved in gangs, and those aging out of foster care. Currently she is working with patients suffering from psychotic disorders, mood disorders, and eating disorders at Columbia Presbyterian-New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Helps Launch NYU’s First Phi Alpha Honor Society Chapter for Social Work Students
Mendon co-founded the Pi Pi Chapter of Phi Alpha Honor Society with friends and colleagues Bobby Casiano, Christian Tamasco, and Jen Dyer. This recently established chapter at the Silver School holds meetings and events designed to foster professional development while encouraging civic engagement and high academic achievement. All students who have completed at least 9 credit hours in an accredited social work program are eligible to apply. Undergraduates must possess a 3.5 cumulative GPA and a 3.75 GPA in all social work courses; graduate students must have at least a 3.80 GPA.