Fostering Community While Facilitating Professional Growth

Ashma Luitel

Ashma Luitel, MSW ’21, one of two Graduate Student Association (GSA) First Year Representatives during the 2019-20 academic year, helped organize Silver Community Day, a professional development day created by GSA with the School's Office of Career & Professional Development and Office of Inclusive Engagement & Student Life. This event, which occurred in February 2020, provided students with an opportunity to explore their personal and professional identities and values, gain tools to engage in difficult conversations as developing social workers, immerse themselves in self care practices, and address conflict and power within various systems.

Ashma, who worked with fellow GSA members to contact the speakers, manage the logistics, and facilitate the event, said it was "an awesome experience.” She noted that the sessions, including presentations, workshops, and community healing circles, were fantastic, and said that her favorite part of the day was hearing keynote speaker Lynne Maureen Hurdle give an address on "Shifting Power: The Change That Needs to Happen From Within." Ashma explained that 2020 is the first year this student-led event was called ‘Community Day’ instead of ‘Common Day.’ "We thought, what does 'common' mean? Community brings people together, it fosters connection, it facilitates growing together. That was our intention."

At the same time Ashma and fellow GSA members from our Washington Square and Westchester County campuses were hosting Community Day in New York City, GSA Rockland County Campus Representative Jaime Baumann, MSW '20, ran a separate Community Day just for students at the Rockland campus. Jaime did it all, securing a joint keynote by Adjunct Professor Amanda Mays, MSW ’15, and Clinical Assistant Professor Kirk "Jae" James on social justice and self care; a presentation by Adjunct Professor Terrence Coffie, BS ’16/MSW ’17, on the role of collaborative relationships in redefining justice; a self-care workshop featuring an array of stress-relieving activities; and presentations on field learning, financial literacy, post-MSW professional planning, and marketing oneself professionally.