Lily Vidal, MSW ’23
Meet Lilia (Lily) Vidal, MSW ’23, who is now finishing her first-year Field placement as an intern with both Silver’s MSW Program Office and Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
Lily earned her BA in Sociology from Boston University in 2020. After graduating, she spent several months in Israel doing an internship focused on bullying prevention with a violence reduction organization. When she returned to the U.S., she worked for a non-profit while she finalized plans for graduate school.
Although Lily said she always knew she wanted to be in a helping profession, social work wasn’t always on her radar. “In college,” she said, “I started in psychology and realized I wasn’t as interested in the more clinical brain science so I switched to sociology. It was only at the end of my college experience and then in my non-profit work, where I met a lot of people with MSWs and identified social work as the right profession for me.”
In her Field placement, Lily works on a wide range of projects, including contributing to the School’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion newsletter; serving on and providing administrative support for the Social Justice Praxis Committee; and conducting focus groups with MSW students to gain insights on their experience and drafting a report with recommendations to the Silver’s Data Assessment Committee.
Lily has also been partnering with MSW Academic Advisor Hannah Levy and international students to reconceive the Silver Language Partners program to make it more responsive to students’ needs. The program, which was launched in the 2016-17 Academic Year, has paired native and non-native English speaking students to foster cross-cultural friendships and boost the latter’s conversational English skills while doing activities like going to museums, taking dance classes, eating meals, or exploring the city. However, due to the pandemic, the program has been on hiatus since the 2020-21 academic year.
In reconceiving the program, Lily and her collaborators are building on a report written by last year’s MSW Program and DEI Office intern, Jayson Vivas, MSW ’22. Based on feedback from prior Language Partners participants, he recommended implementing more diverse learning within the group. Lily surveyed current international students, who haven’t had the opportunity to participate in Silver Language Partners, to get further insights. As a result, instead of focusing on language development, the group will be a collective learning and teaching environment to foster bonds between domestic and international students. “We want to shift from a deficit-based mentor-mentee model,” Lily said. “Instead we want to embrace everyone’s strengths in a model where all participants have opportunities to learn and teach.”
Lily explained that she and Hannah are envisioning monthly group sessions that focus on topics like DEI, professional development, and international social work, as well as group outings and activities. They held a virtual pilot session in April using a DEI module they developed and received useful and overwhelmingly positive feedback. They are still making further refinements and have yet to pick a new name that better fits the new mission. When the new group launches in Fall 2022, Lily will have moved on to a new internship, but she still hopes to participate in the group as a member.
“My current internship has been really exciting and very different from what a lot of my peers are doing,” Lily said. “In Hannah Levy, Elizabeth Chon, Richeleen Dashield, and Liz Galimore, I’ve had four amazing supervisors who are incredibly knowledgeable, supportive, and focused on my strengths.” Still, looking ahead to next year, Lily hopes to have a placement that includes some level of direct clinical practice. “While I am still interested in doing mezzo work,” she said, “I also hope to get some clinical experience before I graduate.” She is currently working with our Office of Field Learning and Community Partnerships to secure an placement that combines both.