NYU Silver's Ikechi Nwankwo, LMSW, Honored by NASW-NYC
Ikechi Nwankwo, LMSW, an Admissions Recruitment Specialist at NYU Silver who earned his MSW from the School in 2013, has been named an “Emerging Social Work Leader” by the National Association of Social Workers, New York City Chapter (NASW-NYC).
Born and raised in Nigeria, Ikechi came to the United States with his family when he was 15 years old. He said that experience of being uprooted and as a teenager and having to assimilate to a new culture has helped him as a social worker. “It allowed me to have a lot more empathy for people – and especially young people – who find themselves in difficult situations,” he said. He began to apply that empathy professionally in the mid-2000s, while he was pursuing his BA in psychology at the University of California, Davis, and simultaneously working as a counselor at a residential facility for boys with complex behavioral health challenges.
After college, Ikechi worked briefly in sales and marketing but, he said, “It didn’t motivate me so I went back into social work where I could make a difference and grow as an individual.” He worked for several years at an agency providing wrap-around care for foster youth and their families before he realized he needed to further his education. While participating in the family reunification of a boy who had been abused and abandoned by his mother eight years earlier, he said, “I found I did not have the direct practice skills to properly navigate an emotional situation of that magnitude. That’s what led me to seek my MSW and to choose the Silver School, which has a well-earned reputation for outstanding clinical education.”
Right after obtaining his MSW, Ikechi joined several friends back in California who started a new nonprofit, Beats Rhymes and Life, Inc., that uses therapeutic elements of hip hop to foster positive development in boys and young men of color. For close to two years, he served as a clinician, trainer, and ultimately director of the training department before returning to NYU Silver in his current position in June 2015.
As NYU Silver’s Admissions Recruitment Specialist, Ikechi leverages his passion for the School and the profession as well as his counseling skills. He explained, “I really enjoy talking with prospective students about social work and the unique MSW experience that can be had at the Silver School. I love helping them tease out what they want to do and if social work is the right path for them, seeing the excitement in their eyes when I know they are going to apply, and helping them navigate the admissions process.”
In nominating Ikechi for the NASW-NYC award, NYU Silver Director of Enrollment Services Sheryl Goldfarb and Director of the Office of Global and Lifelong Learning Ben Sher wrote, “Ikechi is always focused on student needs and willing to lend a patient ear to their concerns . . . Many of the staff rely on Ikechi for consultation on student matters, as well as for ideas about what is most effective in advising and assisting people to navigate the systems that exist at the university.” Moreover, they cited Ikechi’s commitment to social justice values, his involvement in the school’s Social Justice and Diversity Committee, and the mentorship he provides to students outside of his regular duties. They concluded, “Ikechi is just the type of emerging leader the social work profession needs, and his future in the profession is very bright.”