NYU Silver Launches Alum-in-Residence Program
At the start of Spring 2022 semester, NYU Silver launched the Alum-in-Residence Program, an initiative that brings MSW graduates who are driving change in the social work field back to the School to engage with students from an identity that they share with the goal of creating a more inclusive student experience.
This year’s inaugural Alums-in-Residence are Patrice D. James, LMSW, CGCS, who will be engaging with Black-identified students, and Luisa Lopez, MSW, who will be engaging with Latinx-identified students. Both are graduates of Silver’s MSW Class of 2018 and were selected for this compensated position with the support of Silver’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
According to Sooah Kwak, Associate Director of NYU Silver’s Office of Career & Professional Development (CPD), who spearheaded the initiative with Associate Dean of Student Affairs Courtney O’Mealley, “Using their nuanced understanding of Silver along with their field and professional expertise, Patrice and Luisa will identify the unique needs of our Black and Latinx-identified students, provide personal and professional guidance, and highlight opportunities for the School to tap into existing resources to institutionalize support systems.”
Patrice is a licensed social worker, certified field instructor and a certified restorative justice facilitator. She currently serves as the Co-director of the Criminalized Survivors Program at STEPS to End Family Violence. She also serves as a Subject Matter Expert for the LOVE project, a interdisciplinary program funded by the Office of Violence against Women [OVW]. She works in the intersections of gender based violence, criminalization, and racial inequity to support Black communities, particularly women, girls, and incarcerated populations.
Luisa has focused her career on addressing structural challenges by developing and implementing social interventions aimed at effecting positive change at all levels of government. She is currently the Director of Social Services and Communications for The Urban Outreach Center of NYC. She is also the President of the Latino Social Work Coalition and Scholarship Fund and is a fierce advocate for increasing the number of culturally and linguistically competent social workers serving in New York City’s most vulnerable communities, as well as for elevating the importance and value that social workers bring to all areas of public life and civic engagement.
As Alums-in-Residence, Patrice and Luisa will engage with the Silver community by meeting with community members and Black and Latinx student groups, holding open drop-in hours and career coaching appointments (with priority given to Black and Latinx students), participating in programs and events, and visiting classrooms and club meetings.
Patrice said “I am grateful for the opportunity to be in community with NYU Silver once again. The Alum-in-Residence opportunity will allow me to forge everlasting relationships between students, faculty, administration and the NYU Silver alumni community. It is my hope that this role will provide pathways for historically underrepresented students to have their voices heard and their experiences highlighted towards systemic change. This partnership will be foundational for the social work educational field and it's commitment to holistically supporting the needs of their students.”
Luisa echoed Patrice’s gratitude for this opportunity. “I’m so honored and excited to be one of NYU Silver's inaugural Alums-in-Residence because it gives me the opportunity to use my perspective as a social work professional and recent alum to facilitate a positive educational experience for our students,” Luisa said. “This role allows me to be a concrete source of encouragement and support for BIPOC students, as well as a partner to the administration in curating spaces that allow students to thrive and flourish!”