2018 Student Awards

Diane Greenstein Memorial Fellowship

Jane Lee

Xupeng Mao

Xupeng Mao holds both a BA and an MA in Sociology from East China Normal University. Xupeng’s research interests include older adults’ well-being, family relations, social support in later life, social welfare policies and programs. Xupeng’s proposed dissertation uses two large national representative datasets to examine the relationship between social support and Chinese older adults’ subjective well-being, and to identify the groups most vulnerable to low subjective well-being and the types and sources of social support that may promote the older adults’ subjective well-being. This dissertation will contribute to filling in the knowledge gaps in the relationship between social support and Chinese older adults’ subjective well-being. The findings from this dissertation as a whole will help social work professionals to provide the most suitable services, programs, and policies to enhance the subjective well-being of the older adults and their families in China.

Diane Greenstein Memorial Fellowship

Jane Lee

Kevin Lotz

PhD candidate Kevin Lotz, LCSW, CASAC, ACSW, is originally from North St. Louis (Ferguson, MO) and has lived in NYC (Spanish Harlem) for the past 14 years. He earned his BSW from Missouri State University and his MSW from Washington University in St. Louis. Kevin spent 8 years helping manage two of the nation’s largest intensive residential substance abuse treatment programs for prisoners with psychiatric issues in low-income communities in NYC (Jamaica, Queens; Harlem; & the South Bronx). In 2006, Kevin founded and continues to serve as the director of Trinity Place Shelter (www.trinityplaceshelter.org), a shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth. Kevin oversees full shelter operations, programming, and finances; supervises all staff; coordinates the board of directors; leads research/evaluation efforts; and has helped raise over $2 million dollars to support the shelter’s continuous operation. Kevin will be completing his PhD in May 2018. He is preparing for a career in social work teaching and research. His research interests include substance abuse, incarceration and homelessness. The title of his dissertation is "The Impact of Homelessness and Housing Insecurity on Injection Drug Use Among Women." Kevin can be reached at kevinlotz@gmail.com.


Robert Moore Award for Excellence in Scholarship

Emmy Tiderington

Dr. Shelly Ben-David

Shelly Ben-David is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health & Social Development, School of Social Work at the University of British Columbia. She obtained a master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University, and a PhD from NYU Silver. Her research and clinical background has focused primarily on adolescent and young adult mental health, mental health service utilization, psychosis, and prevention and intervention research. Her dissertation qualitatively examined first-person perspectives of mental health service utilization among young adults at clinical high-risk for developing psychosis. The study was conducted at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University. She was awarded a doctoral dissertation grant from the Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation at The New York Community Trust.


Silver Spirit Award

Tamara Levin

Sarah Murslim

Sarah Murslim is an NYU Silver BS student currently interning at the School’s Office of Global and Lifelong Learning. Previously, Sarah held positions in various organizations across New York City, including Program Assistant at the Middle School 137 America’s School of Heroes and Social Work Intern at Rikers Island. Her volunteer work and leadership experience include being the Co-President for the School’s Undergraduate Student Government Association and the NYU Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, and helping to spearhead school-wide and university-wide events such as NY(U) Got Talent and Denim Day. Recently, Sarah was awarded the NYU President’s Service Award for her leadership on campus and her dedication to making a significant impact on the university and local community in the areas of community service, civic engagement, leadership, and quality of student life.

Silver Spirit Award

Ruoqi Zhang

Michael Schwartz

Michael Schwartz is currently the Treasurer of the Phi Alpha National Honor Society - Pi Pi Chapter, Co-Leader of Pride in Practice, member of the Student Leadership Council, and 16-month Representative on the Graduate Student Association. Michael holds a BA in Politics and History from NYU. After graduating, Michael’s central goal was to become a divorce attorney. Through time and necessary experiences, Michael found his way back to NYU - this time with the goal of helping marginalized individuals. As an MSW candidate, Michael has focused on the LGBTQ+ population, primarily working with at-risk and oppressed young people. Michael hopes to continue working with this population, as it is something that he loves to do every day. His experience at NYU Silver is something he will treasure throughout his personal and professional life. He dedicates this award to his extraordinary mother, Lucille, who has given him continuous support in following his dreams.


Global Social Work Award

Mónika Estrada Guzmán

Nancy Murakami

Nancy J. Murakami, LCSW, is a DSW student and adjunct assistant professor at NYU Silver. She also holds a graduate research assistant position at NYU Silver's Center on Violence and Recovery. Nancy is program manager of a psychosocial support program in Nyakabande Refugee Transit Centre in Kisoro, Uganda, with the community-based organization Friends of Kisoro. She has recently held clinical and leadership positions at the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, in NYC, and at Burma Border Projects, in Thailand. She practiced as a clinician at the Safe Horizon Counseling Center in NYC, working with adult and child survivors of international human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual violence. Nancy conducts live and web-based trainings domestically and internationally on topics including trauma-informed approaches, refugee services, social work approaches with survivors of torture and forced displacement, working with interpreters, and service provider wellbeing. She is co-editor of Trauma and Recovery on War's Border: A Guide for Global Health Workers, a book in the Geisel Series in Global Health and Medicine. Nancy served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi, Africa and obtained her MSW from Columbia University.

Global Social Work Award

Mónika Estrada Guzmán

Kamolnan Chearavanont

Kamolnan Chearavanont is a senior at NYU Silver, where she is currently an intern and research assistant at the Restorative Justice Lab under the direction of Dr. Robert Hawkins. She has been instrumental in the lab’s development of a new international model of restorative justice and is assisting in the development of the healthy women initiative in Asia. Kamolnan is the Co-Founder and CEO of Voices Foundation for Vulnerable Children, a foundation she developed in 2010 that is especially committed to uplifting the lives of orphans and stateless children in Thailand. She has advocated for international recognition of the plight of stateless people on global stages such as the One Young World Summit and the World Economic Forum on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Another passion of hers is education development in developing countries. She works part-time as a program officer for ConnextEd, an education reform initiative in Thailand. As such, Kamolnan will be continuing her education at Columbia University for a Masters in International Education Development with a concentration in International Humanitarian Aid.

Global Social Work Award

Mónika Estrada Guzmán

Natasha Atkins

Natasha Atkins has over 10 years of experience in non-profit management and youth development. Originally from Barbados, Natasha spent her early years on the island before moving to New York City with her mother. Natasha earned her first graduate degree from Columbia University and is completing her final semester at NYU Silver. While at NYU Silver, she formed Soca Girls Rock! a non-profit that provides capacity-building support to Caribbean-based NGOs. In its first eight months, Soca Girls Rock! has provided 40 hours of volunteer service and donated almost $600 in art and educational supplies to the 1000 Smiles Project - an arts-based program for hurricane affected youth in Dominica. SGR! also provided a mental health training to two Barbadian NGOs, which sprouted The Ade Project - a mental health initiative that provides virtual and in-person psychoeducational support to program staff and volunteers working with at-risk youth in the Caribbean. In addition to being committed to reducing social and economic inequities in the Caribbean, Natasha is equally passionate about promoting and participating in her cultural tradition of "playing mas" which is the annual Carnival masquerade of decorative costumes and spirited music reflecting the struggles and triumphs of Caribbean culture. She describes herself as “Just a girl from Barbados committed to reducing social and economic inequities.”


Social Justice Award

Loretta Owens

Unique Starks

Unique Starks, MSW ‘18, is a native New Yorker. She grew up in Rosedale, Queens, where she gained her passion to want to help people. She began her college career at the Borough of Manhattan Community College CUNY, where she graduated with an AA in Liberal Arts in January 2014. She then attended Brooklyn College and graduated with a BA in Psychology in February 2016. While at Brooklyn College, Unique volunteered at BCAL and hosted multiple empowering groups with adolescents in the surrounding areas of Flatbush, Brooklyn. A majority of the children that Unique worked with were children of color and their parents were incarcerated or they were impacted by large predominantly white oppressive institutions such as the inner city shelter system, criminal justice system, foster care system, and school system, just to name a few. This prompted Unique to do more research and further her education to better assist Black children, adolescents, and transitional adolescents in inner cities like New York City, who have been impacted by these oppressive systems. Currently, Unique is the president and co-founder of the Black Women’s Social Work Coalition at NYU Silver, where she strives to educate, organize, and raise awareness on these issues. Unique has created a space for Black women at NYU Silver and worked with other students to continue crucial conversations about race. She is also a McCatherin Fellow, a Graduate Student Ambassador, a Student Leadership Council member, and a participant in various other organizations.

Social Justice Award

Emily Jacobs

Kendra Ganley

Kendra Ganley is an undergraduate senior pursuing a dual degree in social work and global public health. In 2015 and 2016, she worked with 16- and 17-year-old boys detained on Rikers Island to help them attain their high school diplomas. In 2017, Kendra was a policy and advocacy intern for the #CLOSErikers campaign. Currently, she is completing fieldwork in the forensic social work unit of New York County Defender Services, a public defender office, where she plans to stay and work upon graduation. Kendra is extremely committed to empowering those who are oppressed and vulnerable, and to promoting social justice. Of her eight semesters at NYU, Kendra has spent three abroad: two in London and one in Accra, Ghana.


Silver Citizenship Award

Rachel Rusch

Sarah James

Sarah James is an Advanced Standing student who has had the pleasure of serving NYU Silver this year as the Graduate Student Association's Advanced Standing Representative. Her passion for Social Work started in her undergraduate career at James Madison University, where she served as a coach for the Special Olympics, led multiple Alternative Spring Breaks, volunteered on the local Rescue Squad, interned working with survivors of sexual and domestic violence, and completed her BSW field placement working with refugee resettlement and immigration at Church World Service. After graduation, Sarah became an AmeriCorps City Year Member in Washington, D.C., where she served as a tutor and mentor in an under-resourced and under-served elementary school. During her graduate year, Sarah interned on a Rehabilitation and TBI Unit at the Kingsbrook Medical Center and brought Service Day opportunities to the NYU Silver student body as a way for students to foster new friendships and to help get involved with the community. She is looking forward to completing her MSW degree to make positive change in the lives of those seeking help and to continue serving causes greater than herself.

Silver Citizenship Award

Rachel Rusch

Larisa Kupris

As a member of the Junior League, a women’s volunteer and training organization, since 2012, Laris Kupris has engaged in a wide variety of community projects and campaigns supporting underserved populations. She is currently the Treasurer and a volunteer at L.I.F.T.  (Lead, Inspire, Focus, Thrive), a committee that mentors adolescent girls in East Harlem on a weekly basis. She is also an active volunteer with Dorot, where she delivers holiday packages and visits with senior citizens residing in the Upper East Side. Larisa’s second year field placement is as a clinical social work intern at The Fifth Avenue Counseling Center. Current NYU Silver activities include serving as Co-Leader of the Animal Assisted Therapy Club, a member of the Student Leadership Council (SLC), and a member of the Phi Alpha National Honor Society - Pi Pi Chapter. She also holds a BA from the University of Connecticut School of Journalism and an MA in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University.

Silver Citizenship Award

Rachel Rusch

Shannon Martin & Julia Almodovar

Shannon Martin is a 16-month accelerated student at NYU Silver’s Rockland County Campus who jumped at the chance to become a Student Leader Representative for the campus. She attended St. Thomas Aquinas College (STAC), where our Rockland satellite campus is based, as an undergraduate, and wanted to encourage fellow MSW students there to express their thoughts, ideas, and concerns in a comfortable space.

Julia Almodovar is also a Rockland Student Leader Representative, a member of the Student Leadership Council and a member of the Graduate Student Association, who attended STAC as an undergraduate. She was part of a program that lets students complete a BS in Psychology from STAC and an MSW from NYU Silver in five years. Julia is dedicated to being a member of the social work community at NYU Silver while also working to strengthen the sense of community within the Rockland satellite campus.

Shannon and Julia have created student events and hosted meetings to keep the Washington Square campus and Rockland satellite campus as connected as possible. The two of them have led events like: a mindfulness workshop, a family movie night, and a cultural competency potluck with a guest speaker. Both students find their commitment to the Rockland campus very rewarding.


EXCELLENCE IN LEADERSHIP AWARD

Jose Alvear

Luisa Lopez

Luisa is an extended student in her final year at the NYU Silver School of Social Work, with a focus on macro and policy level social work. In her three years at Silver, she has served on the Graduate Student Association, initially as First Year Student Representative, then Vice-President, and finally as President this year. Additionally, she has dedicated much of her time to fostering student engagement at the Silver school, providing mentorship in the Student Leadership Council, and co-leading the Latinx Social Work Student Organization two years in a row. As part of her field requirement, Luisa serves as a macro intern at the Latino Social Work Coalition and Scholarship Fund, which focuses on providing scholarships to Latino social work students in the tri-state area and training linguistically and culturally competent social workers for work in the Latino community. Prior to her time at Silver, Luisa worked in the social work field as a family support worker at the Dominican Women’s Development Center, providing home visitation services to at risk families in Washington Heights. Upon her graduation in May, Luisa will join the office of Congressman Jose Serrano as a Congressional Fellow in Washington, D.C.

EXCELLENCE IN LEADERSHIP AWARD

Jose Alvear

Patrice James

Patrice James is a full time 2018 Masters of Social Work candidate within the NYU Silver School of Social Work. Receiving her BA in Psychology from the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies from Adelphi University, she remains invested in exploring the needs and barriers to access for neglected urban communities of color. Patrice currently works as a direct service professional with YAI, National Institute for Disabilities, providing respite with intellectual and developmentally disabled children. Having previously worked in advocacy for undocumented immigrants through New York City, she now interns within Midtown Community Court's Women Independence Safety and Empowerment program (WISE), where she provides direct therapeutic interventions and advocacy measures for individuals who engage in sex work and individuals who are involved in human trafficking. She is a 2017 member of NYU Women's Leadership Initiative, NYU Silver Adaptive Leadership Fellowship, and member of the NYU Social Sector Leadership Development for graduate level students of color Fellowship. Patrice also serves as Executive VP of Phi Alpha National Honor Society of Social Work, Pi Pi Chapter and Co-founder & former VP of the NYU Silver Black Women's Social Work Coalition. Patrice seeks to build integrative family therapy within re-entry social service programs for formerly incarcerated individuals and establish programs to help individuals rebuild their lives post-incarceration. She sits as co-chair of the National Association of Social Workers-NYC Task Force for Social Workers of African Descent and a recent 2017-2018 Minority Fellowship Program Youth award recipient through the Council of Social Work Education.


Outstanding Student Program Award

Jose Alvear

"Where Do Asians Belong? Unpacking the API/A Experience" by the Asian Pacific Islander / American Social Work Students for Change

The Asian Pacific Islander/American (API/A) Social Work Students for Change provides a safe space for API/A graduate students to explore identity as developing API/A social workers and to seek support with other API/A Silver School students. Members engage in activities that enhance their practice as social workers, network with other professionals in the field, and advocate for equitable change in underrepresented communities.

The group organized a range of events this academic year, including a screening of the film “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” and discussion on API/A activism; a panel discussion on “Social Work Practice with Asian Pacific Islander/Americans”; a screening of the movie “Twinsters” and discussion on international adoption and foster care (in collaboration with the Columbia School of Social Work API Caucus); and a two-day retreat on the development of API/A identity and leadership in social work.  This semester, we will also be presenting a panel event on “The API/A Experience: Part 2” and a “Conversations on Racism” event (in collaboration with the NYU Silver Black Women’s Social Work Coalition).


DEAN'S AWARD FOR INNOVATION IN SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE

Jose Alvear

Opioid Overdose Prevention Training | Fantasia Cordero

SCO Family of Services, where Fantasia Cordero has her field placement, serves many clients who are most vulnerable to substance use and generally live in impoverished areas of NYC, where opioid use has had the most devastating impact. While working on implementation of several other substance abuse programs, Fantasia collected data and identified a gap in service delivery. Based on Fantasia’s needs assessment, she started a project to have the majority of line staff and foster parents at the agency trained in opioid overdose prevention and to have them carry Overdose Rescue Kits containing Naloxone, a life-saving treatment for opioid overdoses. She worked on a proposal and presented it to various agency administrators in multiple departments to obtain approval to standardize the training for all staff. Currently, they are offering training from the Department of Health to group home staff and are providing Overdose Rescue Kits. Fantasia is a graduating Master's student who has worked in foster care for four years and juvenile justice for two years. It was during her time as a foster care case planner that she was inspired to apply to NYU's master's program to learn more about what she could do to fight systematic oppression and racism.

Dean's Award for Innovation in Social Work Practice

WBB

Women Beyond the Bars | Patrice James, Whitnique Small, Unique Starks

Patrice James, Whitnique Small, and Unique Starks, graduating MSW students who hold various leadership roles, including heading the Black Women’s Social Work Coalition, organized the Women Beyond the Bars initiative. A major part of the initiative was hosting a conference to raise awareness of the rising number of Black and Latinx women who are experiencing the trauma of being incarcerated in the United States, specifically in New York City. The conference focused on the history of mass incarceration's impact on black and brown communities, experiences of women who have been incarcerated, and the work at hand for social work student and community organizers. The conference raised over $1,000 in ticket sales and donations and had over 100 attendees. In addition to the conference, Unique, Patrice, and Whitnique organized a successful clothing drive and book drive for women held at Rose M Singer Correctional Center on Rikers Island, collecting over 300+ items. All three students have worked collectively and individually on other efforts to support families of color and fight oppressive practices.