Student Leader Tatyahna Costello (Rox), MSW ’23

Tatyahna Costello (Rox) formal headshot. Rox is smiling broadly, wearing a pink polo shirt open at the neck and diamond earings. Their long, tightly braided hair is draped in front of their shoulder on their right side and behind their back on their left sideMeet Tatyahna Costello (Rox), MSW ’23, a member of Silver’s Social Justice Praxis Committee, Vice President of our Graduate Student Association, and an NYU BeTogether Ambassador. Rox earned their BS in social work from Azusa Pacific University in West Covina, CA last May and are now in our two-year pathway to the MSW. In lieu of core generalist practice courses they have placed out of, they are taking advantage of Silver’s diverse electives, particularly in macro practice. “I just think macro change is so important and it’s not focused on enough,” said Rox. 

Among their favorite classes, Rox said, is Management and Organizational Practice for 21st Century Social Work, which they are taking in Spring 2022. It is taught by Silver alum Jared Carroll, MSW ’17, who was an Adaptive Leadership Fellow and is the Founder and CEO of Play At The Core, a youth development program consulting organization. “I enjoy when professors are human and acknowledge they are not really that different from you, experiencing life in a pandemic,” said Rox. “Professor Carroll is facilitating space for us to get to know each other and create community. And we are having really tough conversations about what organization management looks like, what the nonprofit sector looks like, what we as social workers are contributing, whose job it is to fix things, and what hoops we have to jump through to affect change.” 

Another favorite class was Community Organization, which Rox took in Fall 2021. It was taught by Silver alum Dr. Antoine Lovell, MSW ’14, who is now a doctoral candidate at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service. “Professor Lovell provided a ton of resources and introduced us to advocacy groups and organizations that I didn’t know about that led successful campaigns or created large movements,” said Rox. “When you look at history, you can see things that have worked well and things that haven’t. Even though some things have changed in terms of technology and media, you can apply a lot of what worked in the past today.” Rox also expressed appreciation for the robust class discussions. “It gave me a chance to hear other people’s perspectives,” they said. “It was cool to be in a space where people were at different levels in our community organizing experience. We all learned from and grew with each other.”

Consistent with Rox’s macro focus, they are doing their first year Field placement with the National Association of Social Workers-New York State Chapter (NASW-NYS). One of their main tasks there is doing program management and assessment for From the Ashes We RISE (Respect, Inspire, Speak, Engage), a movement of LGBTQ+ social workers from around New York State. Rox is also a member of the chapter’s Student Committee and Diversity Committee. Among other things they helped plan a day-long student conference and work on the chapter’s racial justice initiative, helping to facilitate town halls and coming up with questions and topics to address. In some exciting news, as of March 2022, Rox was hired as a Communications Assistant at the NASW-NYS.

While Rox had support from Silver’s Office of Field Learning and Community Partnerships, they actually identified their Field placement opportunity on their own. They explained, “As an undergraduate at Azusa Pacific, I did my final internship with Assembly Member Blanca Rubio from West Covina, CA. As a result, my school invited me to serve on a panel on being politically involved. Deborah Son, the Executive Director for the NASW-California Chapter was on the panel too and she encouraged students who wanted to get involved to reach out to her. Even though I was nervous, I emailed her and we met up a few times to talk. When she heard I was going to NYU for my masters, she connected me to Samantha Fletcher, the Executive Director of NASW-NYS, who is now my Field Supervisor.”

After speaking to Dr. Fletcher, Rox started out at NASW-NYS joining some committees. Then they heard the chapter was looking for an intern, so Rox proposed the placement to their Field Advisor. Since NASW-NYS already had an internship program in place and Field Instructors with the proper licensure and training, the Office of Field Learning and Community Partnerships quickly signed off and worked with NASW-NYS to secure the placement. 

It was a great example of networking in action. “Now I’m always connecting to people, especially those who are moving to New York, asking if they want to be part of the chapter,” said Rox. “I’m always trying to do the same thing that people did for me because it’s been really helpful.”