News from the UGA School of Social Work
Graduation is such a special day—it is probably my favorite day of the year. Graduates have been working so hard for so long to step into their new careers as social workers and social work scholars, and on graduation day their hard work finally pays off and they launch into their new careers. It is a real privilege to get to celebrate with our students, along with their families and friends, and welcome them into our profession as colleagues. One of the highlights of this year's celebration was the presence of Michael Thurmond, CEO of DeKalb County and former director of the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services, who spoke at our convocation (hear him at about nine minutes into this video).
I know you are all aware of just how special our School of Social Work graduates are, but I would like to tell you specifically about how phenomenal the 2017 graduating class is. Here are a few examples of the many things they have accomplished:
They are a group to be proud of, and a group that should give us great hope for the future.
I also had the opportunity to speak directly to the graduates for a few minutes. I’d like to share some of what I said to them here, in the hope that it resonates with you, our social work alumni and friends, as well.
Graduates, as you move forward into your future, today and for the rest of your lives, I would ask you to keep something in mind. As you look forward, remember to stay connected to your roots, to the past that brought you here. When I say the past, I am specifically thinking of two things which intersect at graduation here today: higher education and social work.
The first is the past of higher education, seen in the pomp and circumstance of the events today. The university is an institution that in the West goes back to medieval times. Founded in the shadows of the cathedrals, the early scholars wore robes similar to monastic garb, which we still wear today. The “hoods” we all wear in graduate programs come from actual hoods like the ones worn by monks to ward off the cold.
I share this with you because I think that this link is important—not specifically the link between higher education and a church of any sort, but rather the link between higher education and a deep and profound sense of discipline and dedication. This is particularly true for social work. This link reminds us that social work is a calling, a profession linked to something deep and important and more than just a job.
The second thing I think about for our past is the past of our social work tradition, those who went before us—leaders as varied as Jane Addams, Dorothy Height, Bertha Capen Reynolds and Whitney Young, among so many others. Social work has a proud heritage and history. Remember this, and be proud of it. Say you are a social worker. You may be a therapist, lobbyist, or CEO, but identify with your profession. Say you are a social worker. Be proud. Always remember that social work is a calling, that what you do matters. And always remember that the School of Social Work is here for you, forever, and is proud of you and what you do.
I say this to you as well. Be proud of being a social worker, or a social work ally. Remember the School of Social Work is always here for you, in partnership and friendship.
Faculty and Staff Retiring/Leaving (profiles and service appreciations in next issue)
The fifth annual Chess and Community Conference headed by Lemuel LaRoche (MSW '03)
Carol Britten Laws (PhD '12), Clinical Assistant Professor of Disability Studies, receives Service Learning Teaching Excellence Award from the Office of Service-Learning.
Rebecca Sartor (BSW '93) and Caroline Sharkey (MSW '15) were among the panelists at a public discussion of childhood PTSD covered by the Athens Banner Herald.
If you have alumni news you'd like to share, please contact Jennifer Abbott, alumni director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, May 17, 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Extended Time MSW program information session, UGA Gwinnett Campus, Room 119. Contact: Mumbi Mwaura, email@example.com
Monday, May 22 - Tuesday, May 23: Awareness to Action: Community Summit on Trauma & Toxic Stress, Athens Classic Center. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
University of Georgia
School of Social Work
279 Williams Street
Athens, GA 30602