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By Valerie Fields Hill
School of Social Work
More than 150 undergraduate and graduate students were honored this week for outstanding academic achievement, social advocacy and leadership during the School of Social Work’s fall awards program.
The School’s administration, faculty members and advisors recognized the high performing students during a virtual streaming of “Fall 2020 Celebration of Excellence.” The video was created by the School’s Communications and Marketing staff to honor the students.
The video streamed on Facebook late Tuesday and was viewed by 1,500 honorees, fellow UTA students, faculty, staff, parents, friends and alumni.
The Celebration of Excellence featured 11 students who will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree and 66 students who will complete the Masters program in December who all earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average. The students earned spots on the BSW Directors and MSW Directors lists, respectively.
“Awesome job, everyone,” Debbie Gomez wrote in the Facebook chat after those students’ names were announced during Tuesday’s broadcast.
Among other honorees were Lady Sarah Joseph, who was recognized three times, and Sruthi Sundar, who was recognized twice. Joseph won Outstanding Student Activist, Outstanding BSW Research Assistant and was recognized for serving as historian of the student-led Social Work Council.
Sundar, like Joseph, received recognition as Outstanding BSW Research Assistant and for her work as an Undergraduate Student Leader.
Five Social Work students who are military veterans also were recognized Tuesday night.
Undergraduates Michael Gipson and Margarita Lopez received awards as Outstanding BSW Student Veterans while graduate students Lindsey Stanley, Larry Wilbert and Albright Wilbert each received the Outstanding MSW Student Veteran Award.
Stanley, a U.S. Navy veteran, has volunteered with a number of military-related organizations, including 22KILL, a non-profit that works to raise awareness and prevent suicide among military veterans, and Heroes on the Water, a group that offers kayaking and fishing experiences to veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress. Stanley is pursuing a Masters degree in Social Work.
James Kumm, executive director of Military and Veteran Services, a division of Student Affairs at UTA, nominated Stanley for the award. He said that, as an undergraduate, Stanley encouraged The Home Depot, The Mission Continues and the Wounded Warrior Project, all to contribute to plans to upgrade the Veterans Lounge in UTA’s Central Library and to improve the campus’ Veteran and Military Services Center.
Stanley watched the awards broadcast Tuesday night and commented in the Facebook chat.
“Thank you! I’m honored!” she wrote in the chat.
The Fall Celebration of Excellence is the third academic awards program to be held virtually since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The spring and summer celebrations of excellence also were held virtually due to no-large-gathering guidelines associated with the pandemic. Previous celebrations were held in person.
Social Work Dean Scott Ryan noted the historic shift from live to virtual gatherings in Tuesday night’s broadcast.
Ryan said the 2020 pandemic had forced the School to deliver the awards program virtually. However, the pandemic also has created a growing need for Social Workers in the job market, he said.
“Before the pandemic, the Social Work career field was projected to grow by about 10 percent. Now it’s expected this need will only increase,” Dr. Ryan said in a message to viewers that kicked off the start of the awards program.
“You will be needed to help our aging population and address issues with children in schools, substance use treatment, health care access, discrimination, racial inequalities, intimate partner violence and much more.”
Viewers may watch the broadcast on Facebook here: