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Staff Member Personifies Commitment to Serve

Posted on July 14, 2014 12:32 pm by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Claudia Kearney, MSW

Claudia Kearney

Claudia Kearney personifies NC State's commitment to serve. As a staff trainer for the college's Center for Family and Community Engagement, she provides outreach and training to all of North Carolina's 100 counties. When she's not traveling the state, she might be found developing training materials in collaboration with partners such as the NC Division of Social Services and UNC-Chapel Hill Jordan Institute.  She also represents the university and the center at national and international conferences and as a member of the Governor's Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs.

Kearney is among five NC State staff members who have earned recognition for service from the university through the Awards for Excellence program. The winners were chosen from among 45 nominees from colleges and units across the NC State campus and will be considered for the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the fall.

"Claudia's outstanding training is helping service providers across North Carolina partner in new ways with the families they serve -- and in ways that keep the well-being of children at the very center of all they do," says Kara Allen-Eckard, CFFACE training coordinator. "She is not afraid to ask tough questions, to roll up her sleeves to work hard, and to speak up on behalf of families, children, and youth in everything she does. Whether she's developing curricula, providing training, or collaborating with community partners, Claudia stays focused on meeting the needs of North Carolina's families, children, and youth.”

CFFACE is a public service and research center at NC State that fosters collaborations between families, their communities, and the academic resources of the university.  In addition to providing training and technical assistance to its community partners, the center works with interdisciplinary partners on the local, national, and global levels to improve family and community health and well-being.



NC State's MSW Program Ranked 16th in Affordability

Posted on July 1, 2014 1:54 pm by Elizabeth Patrick

Students chat between classes on the Court of North Carolina.An article in the online resource Social Work Degree Guide lists NC State University as number 16 among the most affordable MSW programs in the United States. The ranking comes from a combination of the top 100 social work degree programs in the US News and World Report and the top schools on the National Center for Education Statistics' College Navigator. Currently, the average tuition for the top 100 graduate schools degree in social work in the United States is $15,416. NC State is listed as having a tuition of $7,173, which falls well below the national average.

A quote from the Guide website follows: "As the 101st best college, 47th top public school, and 8th best up-and-coming school in the nation, North Carolina State University is an internationally renowned institution for its innovative research and great value.  Recently celebrating its 40th anniversary of being accredited by the respected Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the two-year full-time MSW degree program equips students with the skills needed for advanced generalist social work practice with sensitivity to social, economic, cultural, and demographic contexts" (SWDG, 2014).

NC State University Suicide Prevention Program

Posted on June 25, 2014 11:28 am by Elizabeth Patrick

Dr. Casstevens and Dr. Hall in the CHASS Department of Social Work collaborate with the University Counseling Center, Health Promotion, and GLBT Center, on the NC State University Suicide Prevention Program. The program’s overall goal is a university culture and climate encouraging outreach and help-seeking behaviors, and discouraging prejudice and stigma, in order to achieve a long-term reduction in completed suicides and suicide attempts.  The three major goals of the program are to: (a) increase campus awareness about the risk of suicide among youth and college students; (b) increase campus knowledge of how and where to refer students for assistance and support; and (c) provide high-risk student groups with both information and training on suicide risk assessment, support and referral.  Drs. Casstevens and Hall obtained Garrett Lee Smith Campus suicide prevention funding from SAMHSA to support suicide prevention on campus.  The photo shows Dr. Casstevens showcasing NC State University suicide prevention work at the 2014 Annual Garrett Lee Smith Grantee Meeting in Washington, DC.

Willa at GLS 2014 (1)

CHASS Students Earn International Scholarships, Fellowships

Posted on May 16, 2014 7:33 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

A number of CHASS students earned prestigious international scholarships and fellowships this year.

More than 10,000 students applied for Fulbright scholarships this year. Among the four Fulbrights awarded to NC State students -- a record for the university -- two are CHASS majors: Kathleen Griffin earned an English Teaching Assistantship to South Korea. She is a 2011 graduate who majored in International Studies. She was a Park Scholar who was involved with the University Scholars Program. Jason Syphrett (International Studies, Business Administration, University Scholars Program) earned an English Teaching Assistantship to Bulgaria. Erin Adamson, who is earning a master's degree in linguistics, is an alternate for an English Teaching Assistantship to Ecuador.

Boren Fellows Evan Gearino and Tara Di Cassio

Boren Fellows Evan Gearino and Tara Di Cassio

Boren Fellowships are sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. Boren Awards provide U.S. undergraduate and graduate students with resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of our nation. In exchange for funding, Boren award recipients agree to work in the federal government for a period of at least one year. This year, only 165 awards were offered from a pool of 868 applicants.

Evan Gearino (International Studies and Economics) earned an undergraduate scholarship. He will study Arabic in Jordan. Tara Di Cassio (International Studies) earned a graduate fellowship to study Arabic in Jordan. Both students expressed their gratitude to Arabic section coordinator and lecturer Jodi Khater for her dedication to teaching, her advice and counsel. They say she was instrumental in the application process, spent years cultivating their skills in Arabic, facilitated their study abroad in Jordan, and worked with each of them at length on their Boren applications. Andriy Shymonyak (History, Political Science, Park Scholar, University Honors Program) is an alternate Boren recipient. He hopes to study Russian in Russia.

Nationally competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships are designed to enable undergraduates who receive Pell grants to study abroad. Six of the nine students who received summer scholarships are CHASS majors: Gibea Besana (International Studies) will study in Brazil; Ayana Mclemore (International Studies and Business Administration) will study in China; Social Work majors Geatha Pettress and Araca Wadsworth will study in Guatemala; Luisa Rodriguez (International Studies) will travel to Peru; and Viana Romero (Spanish Languages and Literatures) will study in Spain.

Jim Turner

Jim Turner

Three NC State students earned the Goldwater Scholarship for their outstanding research efforts, including Jim Turner, a double major in Spanish Languages and Literatures and Mechanical Engineering. Read about Turner's research in the NC State Bulletin.

Both Fulbright winners, two of the Boren awardees, and one of the Gilman recipients are International Studies majors, a point of pride among faculty, staff and students in that interdisciplinary area of study. "For some years now, we have watched our very ambitious students do amazing things," says outgoing International Studies Program Director Nora Haenn. "Our program was only established in 2006. In that short time, we have produced four Fulbright winners. Our students are also regular interns at Cisco, at the State Department, and elsewhere. They regularly go on to the Peace Corps, Americorps, consulting agencies, and to prestigious graduate programs. We have fantastic students and a dedicated teaching faculty."

Congratulations to all those who are pursuing their passion and their education through international study. For the full list of NC State students who earned international scholarships and fellowships, read "Big Haul of Global Scholarships" in the NC State Bulletin.


My Manchester Adventure: A Social Work Field Placement Abroad

Posted on May 5, 2014 3:34 pm by hralliso

By: Ana Carolina Lima

About a year and a half ago, I started planning for the possibility of studying abroad in England during my last semester of university. Hearing about the positive experiences others had had while abroad contributed to my excitement and determination. I started by messaging anyone and everyone whose email I came across at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). MMU was the first university I found in England that had a well-known social work program. After emails with two placement professors from the social work department, I finally got in contact with Senior Lecturer Teresa. Besides teaching, Teresa works with the university’s international office to promote study abroad within the Social Work department. She and I exchanged lengthy emails for quite a few months to set up the first social work field placement and class schedule for an international social work student from NC State. We had to make sure that whatever program was arranged would enable me to take part in an experience comparable to the one I would get in NC State’s BSW Field Program. This would ensure I would meet NC State’s graduation requirements. The process of communicating via email was not easy. There is a five-hour difference between England and North Carolina, so patience was key to the success and effectiveness of our email exchanges. Nevertheless, I can say without any doubt, that the grueling process of setting up a placement, applying to the study abroad program, applying for a student visa and then working hard to fund my trip was all most definitely worth it. The experience I have had while abroad was so incredibly eye-opening that I would not trade it for anything in the world.

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I arrived in Manchester in mid-September. I was so nervous! I could not believe I had actually gone through with it; for the next seven months, I would be away from friends, family and the comfort of home. Though I kept asking myself whether or not I was crazy for doing something like this, I decided to pretend I was not. I could do it. I am independent, strong, and best of all, stubborn. So, everything should work out right? I mean, I had gotten this far! I could not turn back now.

The first few days were nerve-wracking. My room, a 50-square-foot should-be-closet, was not bad. Fortunately, everything I brought fit. The house had four bedrooms, a small bathroom, a living room and a worn kitchen with a washing machine. It was a shared accommodation; three men occupied the remaining rooms. I took the first few days to get to know the area. I thought I would never find my way around since everything seemed so overwhelming and confusing. But fear not, this directionally challenged woman (yours truly) eventually got the hang of things – even though it took a few wrong turns, odd looks from bus drivers, and some tears. I felt very proud of myself when I stopped pretending to know what I was doing, secretly sneaking a look at my cheat sheet for directions, and actually knowing where to go and which bus stop I had to get off of.

I have recently, however, moved in with a friend. Unfortunately, after a few unacceptable incidents with my housemates, I decided it would be best to leave my student accommodation. My friend and her family have been very welcoming and generous – offering me a completely different view of British people, tradition and culture. Living with a true ‘Mancunian’ family has really been a blessing. They have offered me what I have missed most – friendship, family and the comfort of home. With weekly Sunday roast dinners, runs with their newly rescued dog, pretend play with my friend’s daughters and a warm cup of tea in the company of my new family, I really cannot complain. This has definitely been a much better way to experience living in the United Kingdom!

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My social work placement at Crossacres Resource Center has been phenomenal. I really could not have asked for a better setting. It is a day center that provides care to about 40 older adults per day. These adults are likely to be at risk of social isolation and depression. The majority of adults that attend have some sort of cognitive or physical impairment as well. The aim of the agency is to promote social well-being through daily activities that encourage group interaction, engagement and thinking.

It was difficult at first to “fit in” at the center. I was unsure of my role as a student intern and as a volunteer from abroad. What could I, a privileged American student, offer to British older adults living in one of the poorest areas of Manchester? Would cultural barriers negatively affect my relationships with staff and service users? Too many questions came to mind. But since then, I have attended regularly and created a place for myself. I have planned and led multiple activities, I have shadowed and interacted with various staff members to learn more about their roles and approaches, and I have engaged with the center’s service users on an individual and group basis. Through my involvement in all of these, I have realized the power of a generalist approach. Social work may be practiced differently around the world, but the skills and values needed are the same. I have also come to better understand what the profession of social work is about. It’s one thing to read about it and another to actually apply it in real life. Putting theory, principles, values, and other various approaches into practice has enabled me to not only learn more about myself, but also to reflect on my social work skills.

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After being more than halfway through with my study abroad placement, I strongly believe that the social work profession cannot just be learned; it has to be experienced. Working with people may seem easy, but so much more goes into it! The profession is about empowering the vulnerable; fighting for social justice; knowing yourself so you can better help others; understanding human behavior; engaging and effectively communicating with others through body language, eye contact and speech; using empathy, sympathy, kindness, patience; recognizing a person’s strengths rather than his or her limitations; self care; and much much more.

To ensure I have stayed on track with meeting both graduation and Social Work requirements, I have been in weekly contact with my NC State professor, Dr. Karen Bullock. Through google video chat, we have been able to discuss my experiences, my encounters with service users as well as my current and future projects. These meetings have been an invaluable resource, as they have allowed me to share my thoughts, feelings, frustrations and worries with someone from back home. I feel like anything that I have “bottled-up” during the week is set free -- a weight removed from my shoulders. Dr. Bullock has helped me make sense of what I have seen and learned by working with the elderly and she has provided me with the support and encouragement to finish strong.

Besides immersing myself in British culture, attending classes and practicing social work skills at the day center, I have also had the opportunity to travel around Europe. I have traveled around England and visited Wales, Belgium, Ireland, Scotland and France. It has been great fun to eat different traditional foods; to explore mountains, parks and the countryside; to communicate with people of different languages; and to learn about cultures through experience rather than books. These adventures have made me smile and have inspired me to see the world in a different light because despite all the violence around the world, there is beauty everywhere.

So, that is my story in a nutshell. Study abroad has been the best roller coaster ride of my undergraduate career. I have benefited greatly from being in a new country. I have gained a deeper appreciation for my life back home as well as for my chosen profession. Life is not easy and it does not always go according to plan, but the lessons I have learned and the experiences I have gained are irreplaceable.