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Natalie Green, MSW ’23 Awarded Student Writing Scholarship

Natalie Green wearing a white floral patterned shirt in front of blurred trees and open umbrellas

Natalie Green, MSW ’23, was awarded a 2022 Diana List Cullen Memorial First Year MSW Student Writing Scholarship from the Metropolitan Chapter of the New York State Society for Clinical Social Work (NYSSCSW). The paper for which Natalie received the award is an analysis of the identity, circumstances, and environment of Jude St. Francis, the central character in Hanya Yanagihara’s 2015 novel A Little Life.

Natalie, who comes from California and is in our 16-month accelerated MSW pathway, wrote the paper for her final in Assistant Professor Lance Keene’s Spring 2022 Human Behavior I course. The assignment was to choose a character from a novel or film and to examine the micro and macro factors as well as other environmental stressors that impacted the character’s development. Natalie said she connected with the novel A Little Life because it is based in New York City, not far from the NYU campus.

In her introduction to the paper, Natalie explained that A Little Life “is a story about trauma and its lasting lifetime impact…In the essay, I analyze Jude’s life through several lenses to deepen my understanding of the biopsychosocial approach and their impact on development. In addition to biological influences, I examine Jude’s micro and macro level systems and how these relationships impact his self-perception and long-term development. I then, unpack how his social identity, including his race, gender, family orientation, ability and sexuality affect his interactions within a white cis privileged world and identify what risks or protective factors each posed. In my closing section, I discuss his coping mechanisms, strengths, and sources of resilience that enabled him to rise above stressors such as poverty, homelessness, abuse, and isolation. Lastly, I examine his experiences through the lens of critical race theory and critical disability theory to further unpack the nuances of his life experiences.”

According to Natalie, her extensive analysis of Jude’s character and environment “not only deepened my understanding of several theories and how to apply them in clinical practice, but has provided a clear example of the interconnecting nature of the biopsychosocial model and life course perspective.”

NYSSCSW plans to hold an awards ceremony, at which Natalie will present her paper, in the Fall. In addition to a $500 scholarship award, she will receive a one-year membership to NYSSCSW.