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2016 Student Awards

Diane Greenstein Memorial Fellowship

Jane Lee

Jane J. Lee, LMSW, is a PhD Candidate at NYU Silver. She received her Master of Science in Social Work at Columbia University and her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame (summa cum laude). Her research interests include health disparities, the intersection of migration and sexual and reproductive health, and HIV/AIDS prevention. Jane’s dissertation seeks to impact routine HIV testing behaviors among Latino immigrants by examining the influence of unique factors in immigrants’ contexts. Her research utilizes a mixed-method, multi-level approach, and integrates the potential influence of major shifts in the social and political environment and perceived access to care in shaping HIV testing decision-making.

Robert Moore Award for Excellence in Scholarship

Emmy Tiderington

Emmy Tiderington’s dissertation qualitatively examines the delivery of supportive housing services for formerly homeless adults with serious mental illness in order to identify the facilitators and barriers to the provision of recovery-oriented supportive housing services. Utilizing observations collected over the course of two years on ride-alongs with staff and site visits to housing agencies, as well as in-depth interviews with frontline providers, her work opens the “black box” of street-level practice and investigates implementation challenges in-situ. This dissertation was supported through a predoctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the New York University Provost’s Global Research Initiative, and was awarded the Outstanding Social Work Doctoral Dissertation Honorable Mention from the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) in 2016. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work and Associate Faculty at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research at Rutgers University.

Silver Spirit Award

Tamara Levin

Tamara Levin, BS ’16, is a senior at NYU Silver with a minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. Tamara serves as co-president for the Undergraduate Student Government Association. Volunteering in a domestic violence shelter in high school, she saw its effects on both women and children. She then worked with the county government to advocate for the expansion of women’s rights in areas such as domestic violence and childcare. Since starting at NYU, she has continued this work and also works a weekly shift on crisis support hotline for RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest  National Network). She has served as a representative on the Silver School’s Distinguished Teaching Award and Social Work Curriculum Advisory Committee, as well as the Student Service Council/Undergraduate Council on Student Life. She was elected to the Phi Alpha Honor Society, one of only 24 students university-wide to take the University Leadership Honors Course as a sophomore, and is an active member of her sorority. She hopes to use the lessons she has learned to during her time at Silver to found a not for-profit this summer focused on developing cost-effective methods to help victims of sexual assault and other related issues.

Ruoqi Zhang, MSW ’15, is in her second year of the two year MSW program and originally from Beijing, China. She is co-president of the Chinese Student Support Group (CSSG), a volunteer teacher of Overseas Chinese Education Foundation (OCEF), and leader of an NGO for autistic children in China. Ruoqi currently interns with the NYC-Department of Homeless Services where she determines whether to place homeless patients inside the shelter system or refer them to treatment programs. Ruoqi demonstrates deep understanding of social justice and strong self-efficacy in advocating for various disadvantaged groups. She has experience in NGOs and fundraisers, and has strong sense of leadership in the field of social work. Ruoqi hopes to apply for a PhD in social welfare policy. She dreams to promote the development of human rights and make changes to the social system in China by writing books, developing poverty reduction strategy, and linking the Chinese community to global resources.

Global Social Work Award

Mónika Estrada Guzmán

Mónika Estrada Guzmán, MSW ’16, is originally from Guatemala and immigrated to California with her mother Gloria Guzmán in 1986. She graduated with a social work degree from California State University, Los Angeles in 2004. Mónika is a co-leader for the Latinx Social Work Student Organization and was part of the Puebla, Mexico program during the summer ’16 semester. Her experience in the program inspired her to co-lead a discussion with other fellow Latinx social work students, funded by NYU Silver’s Social Justice and Diversity Grant, addressing the experience of unaccompanied minors and immigrant youth. Her global interest did not stop there — Mónika was one of the 13 pioneering students of the full semester MSW program in Buenos Aires. She advocated to create her current position as the Buenos Aires GSA representative, as well as a HRSA fellowship field learning opportunity to be part of the Buenos Aires program. In Buenos Aires, Mónika had two field placements in the public and private health sector. She was placed at Rivedavia Hospital and Fundacion Zambrano. Working in this global context was reminiscent of her and her mother’s volunteer work in indigenous Guatemalan communities. Mónika is interested in working with immigrant Latino youth, as she knows first hand about the immigrant experience. During her first year placement in the Lower East Side, Mónika worked primarily with immigrant youth who had recently arrived to New York creating a safe place for her students and advocating on their behalf. Mónika created programs to help them adapt to their new life in the US. She adapted a reading program tailored to increase reading levels in elementary age children with the use of therapy dogs. The reading program was a success, and still continues to be implemented.

Social Justice Award

Loretta Owens, BSW ’16, is a senior at the NYU Silver School of Social Work where she has served on the Executive Board of several school organizations including the Black Student Union, Best Buddies NYU, and the NYU Silver Undergraduate Student Government Association. During her sophomore year she was chosen as the first Silver representative to NYU’s Global Leadership Summit in Abu Dhabi, where she engaged in critical discourse in leadership and the global community. Currently, she is the Chief of Staff for the Black Student Union, a member of the Phi Alpha Honor Society for Social Work, and the BSW delegate to Silver’s Social Justice and Diversity Committee. As a recent recipient of the 2016 President’s Service Award, Loretta gains her passion for social justice and equity for communities of color from her intersectional identity as a black woman and her engagement with incarcerated youth at Rikers Island. As Loretta attends the MSW program next year, she aims to focus on correctional social work by providing mental health services to current and formerly incarcerated youth and adults within the New York City area. This summer, Loretta will be conducting a research study on financial management and decision-making in the Philippines with Dr. Hawkins and fellow NYU students.

Emily Jacobs is the co-founder of NYU Silver’s Challenging White Privilege through Action and Awareness student group, which aims to engage white students in anti-racist action and organizing within the Silver community. Emily also works with the Inter-School Council for Undoing Racism, a group of MSW students from New York City schools of social work collaborating to push schools towards anti-racist and anti-oppressive curricula and practice. Emily is also a member of the Silver Champions, the Student Leadership Council and Phi Alpha National Honors Society. She is passionate about bringing an anti-racist and anti-oppressive lens to clinical work. Emily is currently interning at the Hunter College Counseling and Wellness Services, where she provides short-term counseling and crisis intervention services to Hunter’s diverse student population. After graduation, Emily hopes to continue developing her clinical lens and ultimately bring that perspective into policy and advocacy work.

Silver Citizenship Award

Rachel Rusch graduated from the Silver School’s dual degree program in Social Work and Child Development with Sarah Lawrence College. Prior to Silver, Rachel was an administrative volunteer for the New York chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as a summer counseling volunteer with the Double H Ranch, a Paul Newman and Charles R. Wood Serious Fun Children’s Network Camp for children with life threatening and life affecting illness. Rachel additionally volunteers as a “Smart Partner” mentor with the 52nd Street Project, an organization dedicated to the creation and production of creative work by kids between the ages of nine and eighteen that reside in the New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Rachel is a founding member of Space on Ryder Farm, an arts and social justice retreat center on a two hundred-year-old family-owned working organic farm, currently planning its sixth season. Rachel is also a current and former contributor to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Bridges, a newsletter for survivors of cancer. Rachel is a member of NYU’s Zelda Foster Fellowship in palliative and end-of-life care, and has recently been named as the upcoming Social Work Fellow for Harvard Medical School’s interprofessional palliative care fellowship program for pediatric palliative care with Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. She hopes to be a future voice and advocate for the furthering of pediatric palliative care across the country.


Jose Alvear, MSW ’16, has been active in many areas as an extended NYU Silver MSW student. He is currently a co-leader of the Latino Social Work Student Organization (LSWSO) which has won a President’s Service Award two years in a row. In addition he has been a member of the Student Leadership Council, a member of the Social Media Team and also a work-study at the office of Student and Alumni Affairs where he worked on events including new student orientation. Previously, Jose worked as a writer and research analyst in the tech industry for many years before realizing his passion for mental health. After discovering he had skin picking (excoriation) disorder, Jose helped build an online community via social media to raise awareness about body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). His lifelong battle with skin picking disorder led him to social work with a goal of becoming a mental health provider while also pursuing new research and treatment options for BFRBs. While at NYU Silver, Jose has been active in helping LSWSO with its Recruit/Support/Develop initiative to recruit more Latino and bilingual students to be social workers as well as supporting them while in school and helping them to become leaders after graduation. Jose currently interns as a bilingual therapist at the Jewish Board providing counseling to children, adolescents and adults.

Mimi Choy-Brown

Mimi Choy-Brown, LMSW, is a doctoral candidate at the NYU Silver and the current president of the Doctoral Student Association. She serves as the lead research scientist with Dr. Victoria Stanhope on her NIMH-funded randomized controlled trial examining the effectiveness of person-centered care planning, and as an adjunct lecturer teaching social work practice. Mimi has gained over a decade of substantive knowledge of behavioral health service systems by working in multiple adult mental health service settings (e.g., HIV/AIDS services programs, homeless shelters, and supportive housing). Her clinical experience, combined with her research experience working with leading experts in mental health services research, has informed her research agenda focused on the implementation of recovery-oriented, evidence-based practices into behavioral health services. She has presented widely and published numerous articles focused on recovery-oriented, evidence-based practices (e.g., Housing First and Person-Centered Care Planning) and implementation. Mimi received her MSW from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College with a full graduate scholarship from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and her BA from Barnard College, Columbia University.

Terrance Coffie transferred to NYU Silver from Bronx Community College, where he graduated Phi Theta Kappa and named to the 2014 Coca-Cola and New York State All-Academic Team, the President’s Roundtable of Community Colleges and a 2014 Global Scholar by the International Studies Program in Salzburg, Austria. Terrance has been active in various events on and off-campus, including “The Journey Live,” a community event where he shared the story of his life and academic career. Panelists such as NYU Silver’s Dr. Robert Hawkins also spoke on the value of education to those from unprivileged communities. Terrance has partnered with Silver’s USGA and Knock Knock Give A Sock to co-host “Meet Your Neighbor Dinner” with clients from his work at The Doe Fund, a transitional housing program that provides homeless and formerly incarcerated men with opportunities to change their lives through work and education. Also with the USGA, he recently spearheaded a community panel discussion on “The Reality of Mass Incarceration,” which gained the support from famed writer and activist Michelle Alexander. Terrance participated in the signing of New York City’s “Fair Chance Act – Ban The Box,” a legislation that eliminated questions on employment applications about criminal records. For his POPS project, Terrance created the College Pathways Program at The Doe Fund to assist men in the pursuit of higher education. Terrance has assisted over 25 men in realizing their hopes for a college education and better life. Terrance is a social activist, mentor community leader, and emerging clinician who will be pursuing his interest of policy reform, specifically in the area of re-entry and education, as he embarks on his MSW in fall 2016.

Jenna Strauss

Jenna Strauss is graduating from the two-year MSW program at NYU Silver. After earning her BA in Child Development, Psychology, and French from Tufts University in 2012 and working at a law firm for two years, she moved to New York and decided to pursue a career in social work. Upon enrolling at NYU in the fall of 2014, Jenna was elected as a First Year Representative to the Graduate Student Association, and was appointed Vice President in her second semester. She is proud to have served as President of the Graduate Student Association for the 2015-2016 school year, where she had the opportunity to work with a wonderfully diverse and motivated group to advocate for the student body and enrich student life at Silver. Jenna is also a member of the Pi Pi Chapter of the Phi Alpha National Honor Society, and the NYU Silver Student Leadership Council.

Excellence in Leadership: #SocialWorkersRock Award

Chinese Student Support Group (CSSG) aims at supporting Chinese students and Asian international students at the Silver School to better adjust to their academics and living in New York and the United States, so they can make the most out of their studies. CSSG also seeks to better facilitate and promote professional communication between NYU Silver and the Asian social work communities in New York and around the world. CSSG fulfills their mission by actively holding group meetings, and providing community resources such as helpful advisory, websites, and guest lectures. CSSG’s work closely revolves around the principle of building better professional communities through dialogue.  

Outstanding Student Program Award

Breathing Room
(Buenos Aires Semester Program)
Mónika Estrada Guzmán and Nohelia Annel Diplan were two of the 13 pioneering students of the full semester in Buenos Aires MSW program. Mónika and Nohelia are co-creators of Breathing Room, developed and facilitated by and for NYU students studying abroad in Buenos Aires as a safe space to explore identity, race, language, and gender in a new global context. The group uses elements of narrative therapy to allow the students to share personal experiences and think.

Previous Student Honorees