Social Work students to be honored for academic success

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2022

By Valerie Fields Hill
School of Social Work

Stephen Silva Brave
BSW student Stephen Silva Brave, who is Native and Mexican American, will receive the School's Outstanding Student Activist award.
Photo Courtesy: Stephen Silva Brave


Nearly 150 Social Work students and faculty members will be honored Thursday for outstanding academic achievement and field service work.

The School of Social Work will host its Spring 2022 Celebration of Excellence at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 21, in the Rio Grande ballroom of the E.H. Herford University Center. It will include a dinner and an awards presentation – and will be livestreamed for online students.

The event is held three times per year - at the end of every semester - to recognize scholars who serve as student leaders, exemplify outstanding service to the community or achieve the highest levels of academic success in their coursework.

“This event recognizes the incredible contributions that students within the School of Social Work are making in their classrooms, fieldwork and interactions with their peers,” said Dr. Diane Mitschke, associate dean for academic and student affairs.

“We love celebrating our students and recognizing the sacrifices and commitment that students and their families make to pursue a Social Work degree,” she said. “This event allows us to honor our Social Work community in a unique way.”

Among the students to be honored is Stephen Silva Brave.

Silva Brave will be named the School’s Outstanding Student Activist.

“Recently, Stephen took on a leadership role on a committee that is developing an American Indian studies course to be taught in Texas public schools,” said Assistant Professor of Practice Karen Magruder, who will present the award.

“He started as a community member who wanted to make sure that actual Native voices were heard,” she said. “He has grown into a leader who will hopefully be presenting this curriculum one day.”

BSW student - Stephen Silva-Brave

Bachelor of Social Work student - Stephen Silva-Brave


Silva Brave is excited to have his work highlighted, he said this week.

“I am extremely honored that the award is for my advocacy work. A lot of the time, this sort of work feels like it goes unrecognized.”

He thanked his family for their support.

“There is no way that I could do this type of work for little to no pay if it wasn't for my wife working and bringing in a steady income and supporting our family,” he said. “The real recognition should go to her and all of the leaders of the groups that I volunteer and work with.”

Social justice advocacy is a pillar of the Social Work profession. Practitioners and clinicians are called upon as part of Social Work’s values to speak out against inequities, unfairness and social injustice.

School administrators also will recognize five veterans and military connected students, said Lt. Col. (Ret.) Antwan C. Williams, assistant director of communications, marketing, recruiting and admissions.

“Just like serving in our Armed Forces, Social Work is a calling,” he said. “The Social Work career field is attracting more veterans who want to continue serving by helping other veterans and their communities.”

“More than 10 percent of our Social Work students are military veterans or are immediate family members of veterans. Because of this increased interest and the unique needs of the military community, the School of Social Work began offering in January two new military graduate Social Work certificates,” he said.

The School of Social Work now offers a Military, Veteran, and Family Care Certificate open to all non-Social Work UTA graduate students and to community members who have a master’s degree in a discipline other than Social Work.

Additionally, the School offers the Military Social Work Certificate to current Master of Social Work students or individuals who already have earned an MSW degree.

Five adjunct and full-time faculty members will be recognized during Celebration of Excellence for outstanding teaching and field instruction.

An estimated 200 undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, family members and alumni are expected to attend.

This semester is the first in two years the School of Social Work has hosted Celebration of Excellence in-person. In both 2020 and 2021, Social Work faculty and staff hosted virtual celebrations – six in all - due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dean Scott D. Ryan welcomed the return of the in-person celebration.

“In 2020, none of us could have imagined what lay ahead. We had no idea what ‘stay-at-home protocols’ and working remote would be like,” Dr. Ryan said.

“However, we have been extremely successful thanks to our wonderful faculty, staff, adjuncts and students who have persevered. We are making it through. I am excited that we will be celebrating in person this semester,” he said.

To view all students who will be recognized, please click here: