MSW Student Sheena Marquis Wins Student Writing Scholarship

The New York State Society for Clinical Social Work (NYSSCSW) has awarded Sheena Marquis, MSW '13, a Writing Scholarship for an exemplary paper that illustrates an understanding of theory and ethics. The winning paper is her final paper for last year's Practice II course.

The NYSSCSW's mission is "to establish and maintain high standards of professional education and practice, to promote post-graduate and/or advanced training in clinical social work practice, teaching, administration, and research, to protect the rights of clinical social workers to practice that for which they are trained, and to inform the general public of the specialized skills of clinical social workers." As part of winning the award, Marquis receives a one-year membership to NYSSCSW and receives opportunities for clinical trainings through NYSSCSW. 

In her paper, Marquis discusses her first-year field placement with the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society at the Nat Azarow Child Care Center, where she worked as a family service worker. She worked with 60 parents in the school, and in her paper she discusses the social work intern-client relationship with one parent.

Marquis helped her client, a single mother, navigate the school and shelter system and improve her life in the process. "She realized that I actually cared about her and her kids," said Marquis. "She knew I had her best interests at heart." Marquis also notes that she had to build trust with her client on several levels. 

In her paper Marquis defined her client's reality. She wrote, "The social constructivist paradigm recognizes the existence of multiple realities, which is especially important when working with a client of a minority population as it gives room for the social worker to give authority to the client's perspective. N was the expert." Marquis used the "self" to help her client decide what was best for her life. She remarks on the strength of her client in that she wanted to do better for herself.

However, self-reflection comes with the understanding that "you can't do everything for your clients," said Marquis. Looking back on her paper, Marquis laughed with genuine appreciation. "I learned a lot about myself by working with her." She sadly stated she felt guilty for feeling like she was "leaving clients behind" in Brownsville, Brooklyn, a neighborhood that is affected by poverty, violence, and lack of opportunity. At the same time, she felt proud that her client was in a better place in her life. 

Overall, she found her placement found it to be a rewarding experience. Her current field placement is the Euphrasian Residence in Manhattan, which is run by Good Shepherd Services and provides services to girls in crisis. Marquis enjoys working with families, and feels this current field placement is a nice segue into a different element of that work. 

An award ceremony for all NYSSCSW writing scholarship winners will be held on November 27, from 6-9 pm, at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Midtown Manhattan, where awardees can read part of their paper aloud.