2011 Student Awards

Silver Spirit Award

Rachel Reese

Rachel Reese is originally from Denver, Colorado, and will be completing her social work major and Spanish minor this May. She has been active both on and off campus throughout her four years at NYU. As a program coordinator for Project HEALTH and Senior Class Representative on the Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA), she has helped foster community among Silver students and the larger University population. Through her field placement at Groundwork Inc., she has gained organizing experience through parent mobilization projects, as well as coalition building with other community-based organizations in the East New York neighborhood. She plans to pursue a career in community organizing, and hopes to focus on the issue of unequal access to healthy food choices and nutrition education in low-income communities. She would like to bring her developing understanding of the role of business in moving social change forward to that work.

Pandora Yee  

Pandora Yee is a graduating MSW student at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work. Her nominator described Pandora “as an international student and a visible minority she has exceptional abilities to relate and understand other minority populations. In addition, Pandora’s background in working with all age groups assists in her ability to provide creative supports and ideas for people struggling with difficult transitions.”

Pandora provides long-term individual therapy to clients ranging from young children, adolescents, and adults to the elderly at Educational Alliance. In addition, she is currently a resident assistant to New York University Residential College. She also fulfills the leadership role for the Laboratory Stream where she works with a faculty affiliate to create and participate in activities and excursions engaging students in exploring math, science, technology, and logic.

Another nominator expressed, “Pandora understood their vulnerability and the challenges they faced in coping with life. She understood that health education is important, but social support systems are paramount.” Her referee expressed how “she knew how to prioritize social concerns and health problems.”

Dean's Award for Innovation in Social Work Practice

Jasmin Phillips

Jasmin Phillips is a graduating senior in the NYU Silver School of Social Work with a minor in Spanish and child and adolescent mental health studies. Currently, she interns for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, Victim Services Unit (VSU). At VSU she works with crime victims to mitigate the retraumatization that can occur within the criminal justice system. Furthermore, Jasmin is a certified rape crisis counselor and volunteers with Mt. Sinai’s Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Program. Through this program, Jasmin works as an emergency room advocate with survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Additionally, Jasmin enjoys being a member of the NYU Silver School of Social Work Phi Alpha Honor Society, which recognizes students for their academic achievements. Next year, Jasmin will be attending Columbia University for their one-year advanced standing MSW program.

Amanda Raposo

Amanda Raposo currently serves as co-founder of Powerhouse NYC, a sustainable two-year supportive housing program for at-risk young mothers in Queens. She will graduate in May 2011 from New York University with a BS in social work and a minor in social entrepreneurship. Amanda has traveled to Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, and Tanzania all to learn about and provide guidance for leading social ventures around the world. She is passionate about youth leadership and sustainable social impact, which led her to develop Friends Beyond Borders, Global Girls, and the Keystone Leadership Retreat as a social work intern with inner-city teens at the Educational Alliance.

Jessica “Jae” Disbrow

Jessica “Jae” Disbrow received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Vermont. After three years of volunteer experience with low-income and homeless youth in community-based organizations, Jae decided to pursue a master's degree in social work in order to better empower this population. During her first-year field placement, Jae worked in a new program, at the Henry Street Settlement, dedicated to helping high-need youth achieve academically by addressing their underlying socioemotional needs. Jae's current internship is at the Midtown Community Court, via the Policy Field Learning Opportunity, where she serves youth ages 16-21 through individual and group counseling. During her tenure at the Court, Jae designed and implemented a substance-abuse prevention program for court-mandated clients, for which she received this award. "Motivating Youth" is based on Motivational Enhancement Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a client-collaborative approach. At the Silver School, Jae is a member of the Direct Connect Mentor program, the Students of Color Collective, and the Racial Diversity Coalition. After graduation, Jae plans to use her skills, experience, and strong emphasis on social justice to help vulnerable youth overcome trauma, systemic barriers and oppression.

Social Justice Award

Racial Diversity Coalition

(Angie Cazares, Shara Chambliss, Mckenzie Charles, Shane Fitchett, Andrea Ford, Carrie Marker, Jennifer McCue, Nansi Rivas, Patricia Salgado, Evening Shinerock, Sarina Straussner, Maryam Toloui)

The Racial Diversity Coalition is an alliance of four student groups led by the Students of Color Collective (SOCC). These groups—SOCC, Unity through Multicultural Education (U+ME), Pride in Practice, and the Graduate Student Association (GSA)—joined in the fall of 2009 with a common goal of promoting racial justice at the Silver School of Social Work.

The Coalition was created after a group of new MSW students of color came together for mutual support in response to their experiencing a lack of community at NYU Silver. In an effort to start a meaningful dialogue about racial diversity at the School, and move towards real change, SOCC reached out to the other groups to find allies in this work. For students of color, the movement meant creating a school environment and curriculum that was inclusive and welcoming to their experiences. For White students also, this movement was important in order to provide them with a more complete social work education in a just institution.

Together, the Coalition has conducted five all-school town hall meetings to openly discuss topics of racial diversity among the student body, faculty, and within the curriculum. The Coalition presented the dean with a proposal of suggested changes, and has seen many of these—including focused hiring of faculty of color and changes in curriculum—come to fruition. In turn, the dean created the Student-Faculty Ad Hoc Committee on Human Diversity Advancement to continue a school-wide focus on issues of racial justice. This Committee, as well as the Coalition, continue to work on promoting these goals through the School’s five-year strategic plan, as well as student and alumni involvement.

Outstanding Student Program

"What's Your Dream?" - Undergraduate Student Association

The Undergraduate Student Government Association is an elected and interest-based group of undergraduate students dedicated to providing and enhancing community at the Silver School of Social Work. As an organization it sponsors academic, social, and community service events designed to foster bonds between students beyond the classroom. This year, it has also made it a goal to reach out into the NYU community to partner with other students and organizations on various service and advocacy events. By expanding in this manner, the USGA hopes to continue to promote social work as an influential voice in the greater NYU and NYC communities, even while building a strong internal network of peers.

In order to honor MLK week, the USGA held a program to combine student voices with a discussion of contemporary civil rights issues. The first part of the event was an essay contest asking students what dream led them to social work. It can be easy to get caught up in the daily grind of classes, activities and field, but this was a chance to reflect on the principles that compelled them to this kind of work. A committee of faculty and staff reviewed the essays and selected three for presentation at the event. After these awards, there was a screening of the Laramie Project, a story about homophobia, hate crime, and community in Middle America. This prompted a discussion about how far this country has come since the first Civil Rights movement, and how far it has yet to go in many, many, respects, and what role can social workers play now and in the future.

Diane Greenstein Memorial Fellowship

Christine Greer

Christine Greer, a PhD candidate and LCSW, has focused her doctoral research at NYU and her counseling work in her private practice on helping racially/ethnically diverse family caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. Her dissertation uses structural equation modeling to examine the mechanisms involved in a counseling intervention that helps decrease burden experienced by Alzheimer’s family caregivers. An article she co-authored on early-onset Alzheimer’s disease was recently published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. Christine graduated from Haverford College with a BA in psychology in 1999 and from Columbia University with a MS in social work in 2004. She attended postgraduate psychoanalytic training in 2005 and began the PhD program in clinical social work at NYU in 2007.

Robert Moore Award for Excellence in Scholarship

Benjamin Henwood

Benjamin Henwood is a licensed clinical social worker who has served as a direct service provider, an administrator, and a researcher for organizations serving adults experiencing homelessness and serious health conditions (including serious mental illness, physical disease, and addiction). Most recently he served as the clinical director for Pathways to Housing in Philadelphia (since its inception in September of 2008), which focused on the issue of “chronic homelessness,” and has also worked with individuals being discharged from long-term state institutions to community living in New York. He recently completed his PhD at NYU’s Sliver School of Social Work, with his dissertation examining the role of front-line providers in programs that serve individuals experiencing homelessness and serious mental illnesses, which was supported by a dissertation grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. He has been the principal investigator of participatory and clinical research that seeks to develop more effective models of integrated primary and behavioral healthcare, and is now working with Dr. Deborah Padgett on her NIMH-funded research that examines recovery among dually diagnosed homeless adults. Benjamin has published numerous articles and book chapters on homelessness, serious mental illness, and other co-occurring conditions and plans to pursue an academic career aimed to improve the lives of those most disadvantaged.