PhD Student Cliff Whetung Awarded Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work Fellowship

Cliff Whetung
Cliff Whetung

First-year PhD Student Cliff Whetung was chosen by the Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work (AGESW) for the ninth cohort of its Gerontological Social Work Pre-Dissertation Fellows Program. Fellows, who are selected for their potential in academic gerontological social work, receive intensive training in teaching, publishing, qualitative and quantitative methods, networking, and dissertation from nationally recognized faculty who are experts in the field, as well as ongoing mentoring from a member of AGESW.

Whetung’s research interests include intergenerational mental health and education services, Alzheimer's and dementia interventions, and psychodynamic practice with marginalized communities. He said he is particularly excited about the opportunity the AGESW fellowship will provide him to build relationships with fellow PhD students from across the country who are interested in aging and intergenerational work. “One thing I found most rewarding at the conferences I have attended this past year,” he said, “is getting to know people who will be building their careers at the same time as me and thinking about ways we can collaborate and benefit from each other’s skill sets.”

Since he arrived at NYU Silver in Fall of 2018, Whetung has been a research assistant to both Professor Wen-Jui Han and Assistant Professor Ernest Gonzales. With Dr. Han, he has been doing research related to intergenerational households in China and whether there is an interaction effect between intergenerational housing arrangements and household resources. With Dr. Gonzales, he has been involved with developing scholarship on intergenerational home share programs and has taken the lead in conducting a mixed-methods evaluation of NYU’s pilot program.

“Cliff’s commitment to health, aging, and intergenerational relationships is unwavering,” said Dr. Gonzales, who is co-lead of the Grand Challenges for Social Work’s Advance Long and Productive Lives challenge. “His scholarship has important implications for basic and intervention research, as well as for informing the development of policies, practices, and advocacy.”

Thanks to Dr. Han’s nomination, Whetung is also a member of the inaugural class of NYU’s Urban Doctoral Fellowship Program, which is comprised of 12 students from across the University who were selected for their demonstrated interest in urban research. Through seminars, networking opportunities, and a modest research award, the program aims to increase collaboration and scholarly discourse among a diverse set of faculty and students engaged in urban research, while fostering NYU's ability to develop the next generation of urban scholars.

According to Dr. Han, “Cliff is an exceptional, promising young scholar with great potential and passion to make the most meaningful and utmost contributions not only to the social work profession but also to the society at large. The skills he learns and relationships he forges through both the AGESW and NYU Urban fellowships will only further the impact he will undoubtedly have in the field.”