MSW Students Awarded Latino Social Work Coalition Scholarships

LSWC scholarship recipients Mario Ismael Espinoza (left) and Sahony Natasha Ramos
LSWC scholarship recipients Mario Ismael Espinoza (left) and Sahony Natasha Ramos

Class of 2019 MSW students Mario Ismael Espinoza and Sahony Natasha Ramos were each awarded a $1,500 scholarship from the Latino Social Work Coalition (LSWC) in recognition of their prior service and continued commitment to working with the Latinx community upon completion of their graduate studies. NYU Silver will provide each a matching scholarship of $2,500 as well as mentorship from Clinical Associate Professor Virge Luce, who is the School’s LSWC representative.

Professor Luce said, “NYU Silver is proud to partner with LSWC to support the education of these outstanding bilingual, bicultural MSW students so that they can help meet the Latinx community’s growing demand for high quality, linguistically and culturally sensitive services. Mario and Sahony have both excelled in the classroom, in their field placements, and in their volunteer activities.”

Mario is originally from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. He moved to the US at the age 17, and in 2010, he came to New York, where he danced with the Ballet Hispanico of New York. He explained, “At Ballet Hispanico I did a lot of community outreach, which greatly influenced my decision to go to NYU for a degree in Social Work. I want to earn my MSW precisely to continue the work I began doing with Ballet Hispanico, which was to bring the healing properties of the arts, namely dance, to underserved Latinx communities.” Aside from mentoring young Latinx dance students at Ballet Hispanico, Mario also has experience working with Latinx students at New York City public high schools, where he conducts individual and group counseling sessions, and also conducts family meetings with students whose parents are primarily Spanish speakers.

“The Latinx community is so rich in its culture and traditions,” Mario said, “yet in this country they are marginalized and kept at a great distance from many resources that are valuable to promote mental health.” To help make such resources more available, Mario plans to specialize in working with Latinx people who have experienced trauma. “I find that the immigration and acculturation experience of many Latinx people can bring many adverse experiences,” he said. “I look forward to being part of the solution that brings mental health services to those suffering from trauma brought about by those experiences.”

Sahony is a native of Peabody, MA, who moved to New York City to attend St. John’s University and remained after she earned her bachelor’s degree in 2014. It was her own experience that motivated her to want to be a social worker serving the Latinx community. “As a Latina myself, I grew up seeing firsthand the stigma that surrounded mental health,” she said. “I lost my grandfather to suicide and a cousin to substance abuse. I want to help educate the Latinx population as well as help fight the stigma. We have come a long way with breaking the stigma but we have so much more work to do. “

Sahony said she chose to attend NYU Silver because of its strong clinical program and is currently doing her field placement as a clinical intern at Psychotherapy & Counseling Services. She volunteers with a wide range of organizations that provide service to the Latinx and broader communities, including the NYU Silver Student Leadership Council, The National Association of Social Workers, and Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority. She also maintains a lifestyle blog. Sahony said she plans to specialize in self-esteem, trauma and domestic violence and ultimately serve the Latinx community by opening her own private practice.