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Giselle Balfour  Giselle Balfour

UGA School of Social Work doctoral student receives SREB Doctoral Scholars Program Award

Posted May 6, 2016
Reported by: Laurie Anderson,

Athens, Ga. - University of Georgia School of Social Work doctoral student Giselle Balfour has received the Doctoral Scholars Program Award from the Southern Regional Education Board. The award provides three years of direct program support for historically underrepresented doctoral students and two years of support from the scholar's college or university.

Forty scholars from around the state applied to the Georgia program and 14 received the award. Balfour was the only social work doctoral student to receive the award.

"I’m honored to receive this and very excited about the opportunities the program offers,” said Balfour, a second-year doctoral student conducting research in the area of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

In addition to financial assistance, the award also provides career counseling, networking and recruiting opportunities through the annual Institute on Teaching and Mentoring. The award is part of a nationwide effort by the SREB to increase diversity in academia. According to the program’s website, more than one-third of America's college students are people of color, but constitute less than ten percent of college and university faculty.

Balfour, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, holds master’s degrees in social work and public health and a bachelor’s degree in sociology. In addition to her studies, she provides training on domestic minor sex trafficking to social service agencies, juvenile courts and community groups.

"We are delighted that Ms. Balfour was among those selected to receive this important award,” said Associate Professor Shari Miller, director of the school’s doctoral program. “Her research focused on interventions in child sex trafficking has the potential to reframe the methods used to address a dire global problem. The support Ms. Balfour will receive through the SREB will provide a critical resource as she moves forward with her work. It is wonderful to see such a promising emerging scholar recognized in this way."

Since its creation in 1993, the SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program has graduated more than 800 doctoral students from historically underrepresented groups, a majority of whom have gone on to faculty positions in higher education.

Balfour is the fourth social work doctoral student to receive the award in Georgia. The other three, also from the UGA School of Social Work, are: Aisha Tucker-Brown (PhD ’07), who received the award in 2005, and Karen Watkins (PhD ’07) and Omar Sims (PhD 2011), who both received the award in 2008. Tucker-Brown is now a behavioral scientist in the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a part-time instructor at the UGA School of Social Work. Watkins is a clinical assistant professor of social work at Georgia State University and Sims is an assistant professor of social work at the University of Alabama.

For more information about the SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program, visit