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Field Education Office Professional Development Workshop

BSW Cording & MSW Hooding

Dean harding06.29.2016

Dr. C. Tayloe Harding, Jr., Dean of the School of Music since 2005, will serve as interim dean of the CoSW for the 2016-17 academic year. A passionate advocate for advancing the impact of higher education music study and experience on American communities and national society, Dr. Harding is devoted to an array of national organizations whose missions are consistent with this advocacy and has served in leadership positions with many of these groups. He is a seasoned academic administrator who, while serving as Dean of the School of Music, has acted as Interim Dean for the Honors College and most recently as Associate Provost for Community Engagement. His interest in engagement and outreach to advance the public good make him a perfect temporary fit within the world of social work. To learn more about Dr. Tayloe Harding, please read his biography here.

by Deborah Duvall

Several faculty and staff from the CoSW attended the Rally to Stop the Violence on Saturday, June 18, 2016, on the south lawn of the Statehouse. Afterwards, Dr. Maryah Fram and Lynda Tilley joined Dr. Miriam Johnson and me. We gathered briefly after the rally to talk about the impact of the various speakers and the demonstration. We thought Carla Damron, Executive Director for the National Association of Social Workers, South Carolina Chapter, and Steve Benjamin, Columbia’s mayor, were particularly effective. Other scheduled speakers included SC Democratic Women’s Chair Susan Smith, Columbia Urban League President J.T. McLawhorn, President of the Brady Campaign’s Charleston Chapter Merrill Chapman, and Tameika Hunter Ross, whose nephew Rodney Sumter was seriously injured Orlando. We also discussed our concerns for friends and family members who are feeling unsafe as a result of the Orlando shootings.

stop violence before name calledThose attending the rally gathered to promote:

  • Universal background checks, by closing the “Charleston loophole” and gun show loopholes
  • Banning assault weapons in South Carolina
  • Passing a hate crime law in South Carolina

The demonstration at the end was a powerful visual reminder of the 49 people killed in Orlando and our own nine fellow South Carolinians killed in Charleston at Mother Emmanuel Church last year. The “before” photo shows the 49 representatives mirroring the colors of the rainbow flag with a space separating them from the nine Charleston representatives. As their names were read, the representative stood up and then lay down on the steps—as shown in the “after” photo, forcefully illustrating the loss of 58 precious lives to gun violence. John Lennon’s “Imagine” was sung, accompanied by an acoustic guitar, and the crowd was invited to join in. As I sang the words softly I found myself wondering what it will take for our state and national law makers to finally take a stand to stop the violence.

stop violence after name calledAs a social worker, I’m going to focus on encouraging people to get registered and to vote in every election, communicate with legislators, and to take advantage of all opportunities to stand in solidarity at the State House. Please consider joining me.

Link for additional rally information and list of sponsors: http://uptownrising.com/stoptheviolence/  


interprofessiona practice experienceSeveral MSW students participated in the 2015 Interprofessional Practice Experience held at the Speech and Hearing Research Center in December.The Experience involved students from several clinical disciplines assessing stroke patients with aphasia – a language disorder – and creating therapeutic interventions. Participating disciplines included Nursing, Physical Therapy, Pharmacy, Social Work and the Communication Sciences & Disorders Speech Pathology program. This approach gave students hands-on experience in both patient assessment and interdisciplinary collaboration.

To learn more about the 2015 Interprofessional Practice Experience, click here.


The University of South Carolina will hold a memorial tribute for the 49 souls taken in the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando at noon on Wednesday, June 29th 2016 in the Hollings Room of the Thomas Cooper Library.  President Harris Pastides and Provost Joan Gabel will deliver remarks along with other members of the campus community. Several CoSW students and alumni will take part in the memorial tribute. For additional information, please check here.


SERG logoThe Student Empowerment Resource Group (SERG) is a support network of College of Social Work faculty and staff who seek to develop programs and services that will provide basic crisis prevention and financial management assistance for students in need.  Our goal is to ensure the academic, professional, and social success of our students. We spent the fall semester gathering resources we thought would be helpful and creating an online portal through the Student Login on the CoSW home page. To view, click on Student Login, provide your USC network user name and password. Look for SERG to the far left, in the 2nd row of tabs and click. Please explore and let us know what else you need here.

On Monday, February 1, 2016, we held our first “Keepin’ It Real” open forum to find out what students needed to be successful in our program and to introduce the SERG portal and resources. Pizza and soda were provided to help fuel discussion. Led by Ms. Sudie Nallo, group members included Ms. Felissa Carter-Moore, Ms. Deborah Duvall, Ms. Rushondra James, Dr. Monique Mitchell, Ms. Mosetta Ragin, and Ms. Frances Spann. Dean Anna Scheyett welcomed the students and encouraged them to share openly and honestly about what they need. She emphasized that this was a safe space and all personal experiences would be considered confidential. Many students openly shared their challenges, ideas, and needs for success and we are very grateful for their  insights and contributions. A special thank you to our MSW students for “keepin’ it real!”. Ideas and suggestions will go back to the full group for discussion and implementation where possible.

Stay tuned for the next “Keepin’ It Real” open forum on Monday, February 29, 2016, 12:00-1:00 p.m. in Hamilton 227. We’ll bring back the plans!


The CoSW extends our condolences and support to those affected by the tragedy in Orlando. We now know that at least one of the wounded has ties to our area. We are here to offer our support and services to those in need in the aftermath of this heartbreak. To read UofSC's comments, click here.

The University of South Carolina Science & Religion Initiative

A conference opportunity for students interested in science and religion is now available. Funding of up to $3,000 will be awarded to 2 students; selected students have the option of attending one, or both of these events, if they so choose.


The College of Social Work is partnering with the South Carolina Department of Corrections to develop strategies to assist prisoners with mental health problems. Led by Drs. Dana DeHart and Aidyn Iachini, the program will establish a summer institute to train corrections staff and students on how to respond to inmates experiencing mental health issues, including crisis intervention, discharge planning, coordinating care with community providers and working with families of prisoners. With three-year funding by a $400,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant, the training will consist of both classroom and online components with the goal to develop a model for mental health education and training that can be used in prisons nationwide.


Mary Ann Priester01.21.2015

Doctoral student Mary Ann Priester was selected by the Office of the Vice President of Research as one of 13 USC Breakthrough Graduate Scholars. This award is given to USC’s most promising graduate students who demonstrate phenomenal commitment to research and scholarly activity. Mary Ann’s research focuses on Adverse Childhood Experiences, and though she is only in her third year of the program she has been incredibly productive. To date she has three journal articles in print, three chapters or articles in press, three manuscripts under review, a SPARC grant from the university, and thirteen presentations at national and international conferences.


On May 6, 2016, 45 undergraduates and 290 graduates marked the successful conclusion of their degree programs with a celebration at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Students completing dual degree programs this year included one student with the MSW and Juris Doctorate, another with the dual MSW/Master of Public Administration, and six with the MSW/Master of Public Health. Also awarded at the ceremony were Graduate Certificates: 38 Certificates in Drug and Addiction Studies; nine Certificates in Social Work with Military Members, Veterans, and Military Families; and three Certificates in Gerontology. Additionally, seven BSW students earned Graduation with Leadership Distinction.

The MSW graduates were hooded in citron, as is traditional for the conferring for social work graduate degrees, and the BSW graduates wore garnet and gold cords. The undergraduate cording occurred first, followed by a reception for all CoSW students and their guests, and then the graduate hooding.

It was Melvina Ackwood’s third year working on the MSW hooding with Frances Spann, who has coordinated the event for 20 years now. Ackwood says “witnessing the expressions of pride and accomplishment on the faces of the graduates is priceless. Seeing the committee’s hard work materialize makes the day special” emphasizing that hooding is a “celebration rather than a ceremony.”

Rushondra James is a Student Service Coordinator at the CoSW, and she handles the logistics of the undergraduate cording celebration. Students graduating in May, August, or December of 2016 were welcome to participate; James performed a “senior check” last fall for each student to ensure that they were on the road to graduation.

Though administrative staff like Ackwood, James, and Spann are integral to a successful celebration, the day’s events are student-centered. A committee comprised of Student Services Advisors, Program Coordinators, and leaders from student organizations plan the celebration together. Students help choose the graduation speaker and who among the CoSW faculty they would like to perform the hooding and to announce graduates’ names. The cording address was given by Dr. Jeanne Cook, who is the current president of the South Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Workers as well as an alumna of UofSC. The hooding address was given by Dean Anna Scheyett.

The cording and hooding celebrations included faculty and student awards, as well. Students choose the winners of faculty awards, and faculty evaluate academic achievement and leadership qualities in determining the winners of student awards. (A complete list of award winners and of the faculty selected to participate in the cording and hooding can be found at the bottom of this page.)

This year’s recipient of the BSW Student of the Year award, Eric Clark, was “honored” but noted that “there were many other students in the cohort that were just as worthy of recognition.” Aliza Petiwala, MSW Student of the Year for the Columbia campus, also claims that her hardworking peers were just as deserving as she, and cites the supportive faculty and staff at the CoSW. “This is not an award you get by yourself!” she insists.

Graduates are prepared to take on social work in the field and in graduate programs; James has spoken to graduates headed for MSW programs at Temple University, Boston College, and University of Maryland, for example, as well as quite a few staying here at UofSC. Clark is one such student; he is staying at UofSC for the MSW program because the CoSW “has helped to kick start my professional development,” and he is excited to begin a field placement at the Transitions Homelessness Recovery Center and continue his interest in serving individuals experiencing homelessness.

Both award winners reflected on what they most appreciate from their degree programs, highlighting the new knowledge that they will draw upon in their next endeavors. Clark explains why the CoSW was and will continue to be such a great fit for him: “the opportunities that I took advantage of in the CoSW program gave me a well-rounded experience that involved working with clients, meeting new colleagues, developing professional relationships, and even presenting at a NASWsymposium.” Petiwala is moving on and using her knowledge and skills to work in research and policy, but she, too, believes that the graduate program provided her with the tools to succeed, especially a “greater insight into the daily and systemic barriers disadvantaged populations face when trying to access social services that can help pull them out of cyclical poverty.”

Wherever our graduates go next, whether to a graduate program or the field, they will surely effect positive change. The CoSW is pleased to present our 2016 graduates to the world.

BSW Student of the Year: Mr. Eric Clark
MSW Students of the Year:

Ms. Aliza Petiwala (Columbia)

Ms. Brooke Andregic (Charleston)

Ms. Casey Phillips (Greenville)

BSW Outstanding Student in Field: Ms. Rebecca Christopher
MSW Outstanding Student in Field: Ms. Anna Bracknell
BSW Jim Ward Field Instructor of the Year: Dr. Nicole Cavanagh
MSW Jim Ward Field Instructor of the Year: Ms. Deborah Bennett-York
BSW Educator of the Year: Prof. Sudie Nallo
MSW Educator of the Year: Dr. Susan Parlier
Alumni Awards:

Ms. Lenora Bush Reese

Ms. Katherine Watts

Pioneer Award: Ms. Gwen Jobes Hampton
BSW Cording:

Dr. Anna Scheyett

Dr. Miriam Johnson

Dr. Daniel Freedman

Dr. Nicole Cavanagh

Ms. Jennifer Bosio-McArdle

Ms. Rushondra J. James

MSW Hooders

Dr. Nancy Brown

Dr. Nicole Cavanagh

Prof. Rhonda DiNovo

Dr. Candice Morgan

Dr. Susan Parlier

Prof. Eunika Simons

Ms. Fran Burke (Charleston)

Dr. Margriet Wright (Charleston)

Ms. Michelle Scott (Greenville)

Ms. Darlene Levy (Greenville)

MSW Announcers

Dr. Christina Andrews

Dr. Benjamin Roth


SWTJF16 covJulia Grimm, LMSW, adjunct faculty in the College of Social Work, is featured in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of Social Work Today because of her passion for social work. In “10 Dedicated & Deserving Social Workers,” Grimm describes her work as a Child and Family Therapist at the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center in Charleston as humbling, stating “…being one-on-one with a child who has experienced something horrible, but creating a space where they feel comfortable enough to share those details with you.” She credits her parents for her passion through their examples of kindness and compassion. Grimm shares this passion with our MSW students in her Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families and Small Groups class. To read this article in Social Work Today, click here.


The second year of a College of Social Work field placement at the Richland County Public Defender’s office has just wrapped up. Three students spent the spring semester in this placement, one of whom was the recipient of a coveted Training For Transitions grant, which is accompanied by a $10,000 stipend. Mary Wilmer, Callie Thomas, and Xavier Bailey benefitted from this unique field experience working under Dr. Aleks Chauhan, Assistant Public Defender, and Dr. Candice Morgan, Training for Transitions Field Seminar Leader and Instructor in the CoSW.

The Richland County Public Defender’s office serves approximately 700 clients each year but had no concrete resources for addressing these young people’s needs, such as housing insecurity or learning disabilities, before the CoSW’s field placement. Morgan spent 17 years as a social worker in the field, including time working with the Department of Mental Health, and she was able to build on previous relationships in the Public Defender’s Office and suggest the benefit of having social workers there to handle the clients whose needs go far beyond a night in jail. The Public Defender’s office and the CoSW turned out to be a great fit: “Social workers can help in many ways in assessment of needs,” Chauhan says, “stepping in and communicating with the family and the child.” She also notes that social workers can assist with direct services, coaching, empowerment, and grant writing.

According to Morgan, this field placement has “allowed the Public Defender’s office to see the need for a social worker,” and see the possibilities when lawyers and social workers are working side by side. Explains Dr. Melissa Reitmeier, director of field education in the CoSW, “we have students working with the juveniles, problem-solving with them,” and identifying resources like mental health or recovery services. The students assist the attorneys and work together to determine the best way to support juvenile offenders.

This placement is not for faint of heart, though: Morgan says that the Public Defender’s office is very fast-paced, and students experience a sharp learning curve. Students must familiarize themselves with court processes in addition to serving as advocates for the youth they serve. Chauhan notes that “this is the real deal” for students—“they get exposure to abuse, lack of resources, systemic problems…things that you read about in books, but in our offices it becomes life.” The students at the Public Defender’s office placement “see the most vulnerable clients,” says Morgan, and this lets them “get a firsthand view” of the criminal justice system. “Students get to see how complex it is to work in family systems,” says Morgan, “and work with attorneys who don’t always see things the way we do” as social workers. Working in an interdisciplinary and interprofessional setting gives MSW students a taste of what it means to work in the social work profession, in which multiple collaborators and stakeholders will not always understand the value of a social worker.

Mary Wilmer and Callie Thomas worked as Youth Advocates this spring, meeting with clients on a weekly basis and connecting them with community programs and resources to help them achieve their goals. Chauhan says that the rapport built between the Youth Advocates and clients matters because “the key to lowering recidivism is not just services, but knowing them [youth] and nurturing them and linking to positive role models; it’s really exciting for me to see that these social work interns are so enthusiastic about the work and so dedicated.”

The Public Defender’s office field placement is “a well-rounded opportunity,” according to Wilmer. She says “I feel like I am being molded into quite a tactful and effective social worker” as result of this field experience. Thomas was finishing the dual degree program in Social Work and Law at the time, and this placement is an ideal fit for dual degree students like her, she says, noting that it combines law, social work, and both micro and macro skills. Thomas also sees the far-reaching impact of her contributions at the Public Defender’s office: “I believe it is paramount, albeit challenging, to assist the adolescents in setting longer term goals for themselves for when they re-enter the community,” and the most important aspect of her work was “to help the adolescents and their families see past the momentary detention, realize that the barrier is only ephemeral, and help them believe in their ability to set and achieve longer term goals.”

Reitmeier states unequivocally, “I love this placement.” One of Reitmeier’s goals is to promote interprofessional teamwork because “social workers bring a unique and special perspective, a more strengths-based perspective that focuses on understanding diversity and resilience.” Social workers are “value-added” on any team, according to Reitmeier, and Chauhan agrees, claiming “I’d love to see a social worker for every child,” because “social work is crucially intertwined with what we can do.”

The students themselves are also pleased with the opportunities at the Public Defender’s office. Xavier Bailey notes that working as Chauhan’s intern taught him not just about social work and the criminal justice system, but also about himself. Watching Chauhan, whom he refers to as “Superwoman,” inspired him each day. “She understands the difference between what is right and what is justice,” he explains, and she made him think more clearly about his role as an advocate for vulnerable populations. Thomas calls her time there “amazing,” stating, “there is no question that this field placement has allowed me to utilize skills acquired in the classroom, continuously critically think about system improvement and program development, and confirms my passion in the field of juvenile justice.”

Pitner R 350x35011.30.2015

Dr. Ronald Pitner believes that cultural awareness is necessary for social workers, but prefers the term “culturally responsive” to the more common “culturally competent.” “Competent,” he explains, implies that there’s an end in sight, or a level to reach, and then cultural learning ends. In fact, when engaging with culture, “you’re always on, responding to something.”

Pitner teaches SOWK 714, a new course he has co-designed for MSW students. The course builds from the content of SOWK 333: Social Work with Diverse and Oppressed Populations, a required undergraduate course which Pitner created with Dr. Susan Parlier. Pitner undertook research to determine whether learning about diversity was more effective via a dedicated course or spread across the curriculum. “We found that one single course on diversity and social justice increased MSW-level social work students’ level of cultural responsiveness significantly more than curricular infusion of such content.”

“Diversity is something that we see and that we perceive,” he explains. Too often, we stop at “seeing” and miss the crucial work of analyzing how our identities influence our perceptions of others and ourselves. “Seeing” diversity entails acknowledging the seemingly obvious, visible markers of identity, like race or gender. Approaching diversity in this way is what Pitner calls the “cookbook model,” in which there’s a section on each “type.” “You look up the recipe for ‘Native American,’ and then you’re supposed to be knowledgeable—and by extension, culturally competent,” he says. But “the power of diversity is really in how you perceive,” he insists. “Your perception of what it means to be African-American or female influences what you see,” so to attend only to “seeing” diversity means to do so poorly.

As an instructor, Pitner remains vigilant about not settling into a comfort zone of merely “seeing.” While it would be easier for both himself and his students, it doesn’t challenge any perceptions or biases. SOWK 714 “is focused on what you see, but also these perceptions and biases you may have about difference and about your own identities.”

diversity inclusionDiversity and inclusion can be tricky topics, so Pitner begins each semester by establishing ground rules for class discussion. He has a short list prepared and invites students to add as many additional ground rules for discussion as they feel are necessary. He revisits these ground rules throughout the semester, just to check-in to see if students are abiding by the rules they have agreed upon or if additional ones need to be added.

Early on in the semester, Pitner facilitates a reflective exercise that prepares students for the material that follows. Students jot down a list of their own multiple identity categories (gender, sex, race, etc.) and are then faced with the difficult task of thinking about the status connotations of those categories. Pitner provides the following example: “If you label yourself as being female, then what are your perceptions of how society privileges or oppresses you on the basis of that identity?” This can be particularly challenging for students who have never considered their own privileged or oppressed statuses before. A female student may feel very empowered generally, Pitner explains, but when challenged to contend with a female peer who feels oppressed, she must step back and think critically about how dominant ways of thinking may still color the lens she’s looking through.

This class exercise later expands into a paper analyzing students’ own multiple identities, how those identities intersect, and how they perceive that society privileges or oppresses those different identities. This kind of deeply personal work is a key component of studying diversity and inclusion because, as Pitner explains that in order for social workers to “truly meet the client where they are,” they must first examine critically how their own perceptions, biases, and cultural worldviews shape where they think the client “should be.” Pausing to think and reflect this way is true cultural responsivity, and it’s something that all social workers should strive for.

Students can learn about diversity and social justice in Pitner’s classroom, but the class only sets the stage for an ongoing learning process. Pitner hopes that his students become more aware of how their multiple identities intersect and shape their views of diversity, because “being culturally responsive as a social worker is learning how your own worldview might influence how you see and perceive the client.” The course is “about critical awareness, but when students leave, I tell them, it’s a process that’s never-ending,” says Pitner. Valuing diversity is more than a course learning outcome—for social workers, it’s a lifelong journey toward critical consciousness.


DeanVertCourtyard 8597As many of you know, this May was a “graduation” of sorts for me as well and my farewell to the University of South Carolina. On June 3rd I will step down as Dean of the College of Social Work and on July 1 I will assume the duties of Dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Georgia.

This move was a difficult decision for me, but the right opportunity for me and for my family, and I am leaving the College in very capable hands. Our Interim Dean for the College will be Dean Tayloe Harding. Dean Harding has prior experience as interim dean of the Honors College and is a good friend to the College of Social Work—I hope you’ll give him a warm welcome and lots of support. The Provost is establishing a search committee and will begin a national search for a permanent dean for the College in the near future.

My five years here at the College have been tremendously rewarding, and I am so proud of the work the faculty, staff, students, and alumni have done. We have hired amazing new faculty and staff, revised our curricula, grown our research, increased our relationships with and impact on the community, and moved into a beautiful new home in Hamilton College. I will always treasure the relationships I’ve developed here at Carolina and in Columbia, and feel very fortunate to have been a part of this wonderful community.

I’m honored to say that a fund has been established, the Anna Scheyett Pay It Forward Fellowship, to provide support for students in financial need, who want to serve populations that struggle with financial insecurity, and who, once they are established professionally, commit to helping other social work students and “paying it forward.” I hope you’ll consider contributing to this fund. Most importantly, I hope each and every one of you will continue to strengthen your connection to the College, to be involved in the excellent work that goes on here, and to continue your support of our students.

Thank you for a rewarding five years and for collaborations and friendships I’ll never forget. I hope you’ll stay in touch (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and visit if you’re ever in the Athens area.

Warmest regards,

Anna Scheyett

SSWR logo11.30.2015

The College of Social Work will be well-represented at this year’s Society for Social Work Research (SSWR) conference. In an overwhelming display of the dynamic research produced by the CoSW, a group of 25 of our faculty, staff, and graduate students will be presenting research at the 20th annual conference in Washington, D.C. this January.

The number of CoSW presentations accepted by SSWR is truly something special. As Dr. Patricia Sharpe notes, “the SSWR conference is a major national forum” and “the high level of participation from USC is evidence of the CoSW's continued growth in research excellence and national recognition.” Professor Kristina Webber agrees that our participation is significant, saying that it “is a testament to our college’s strong and growing focus on community-engaged research, and it signals a growing recognition among our peers that the CoSW is engaged in outstanding research in our state, across the country, and around the world.” Dr. Kirk Foster also points out that “not only is the number of faculty presentations higher than in the past, but our PhD students also have a more significant presence at SSWR.”

It is an honor for CoSW graduate students to be selected for this conference. Faculty have worked closely with doctoral students, “allowing them an excellent opportunity to share our research with an international audience and network” with social work researchers from around the world, says Dr. Teri Browne. Foster believes that the conference is an important step for graduate students—faculty support of graduate student research will prepare them for research-intensive positions in the future.

2016coverphoto23 715x300Presentations will cover the wide variety of specializations and research interests that is possible in the CoSW. Dr. Christina Andrews will show the effects of Medicaid expansions on prevention and community-based outreach services. Dr. Huong Nguyen will present a poster that previews her forthcoming paper in the Journal of Sex Research on the taboo issue of extramarital sex among men in Vietnam. Dr. Robert Hock will be presenting with disability researchers from five other universities, and Dr. Joi Dykes Anderson will share research about how childhood trauma effects the development of negative trauma-related cognitions—such as feeling incompetent, self-blaming, and feeling unsafe in the world—which are associated with the development of PTSD. These are but a few examples of the exciting and innovative research being produced out of the CoSW that will be on display at SSWR.

Some CoSW researchers will be presenting more than once. A team consisting of Dr. Teri Browne, Stephanie Clone, Dr. Dana DeHart, Dr. Aidyn Iachini, Caroline Pantridge, and Dr. Kristen Seay will be giving six presentations on the state-funded Recovery Program Transformation and Innovation (RPTIF) project that provides technical assistance to substance use agencies across South Carolina. The RPTIF project is a partnership with the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services that works to improve substance abuse treatment and recovery. DeHart is excited about her team’s participation and believes that their presentations “will contribute to an unprecedented showing” for the CoSW at the conference.

In addition to presenting findings from the RPTIF project, Iachini is excited about leading a presentation on mother-child residential treatment programs and collaborating with Dr. Ronald Pitner to “share the findings of a districtwide needs assessment we conducted with principals from a local school district related to school mental health.” Webber and Foster will also present more than once; each will present two papers. Both of Webber’s presentations are related to adolescents’ school engagement. She will debut a questionnaire that can be used to measure school engagement and demonstrate its suitability for use with youth from various racial/ethnic groups, and in her second session she will explain two strategies for increasing school engagement among adolescents. One of Foster’s papers will discuss how people conceptualize and define their neighborhoods. Foster’s second paper examines the impact of distance to social capital generation sites (such as workplaces, places of worship, and civic organizations) on access to resources necessary for social and economic mobility.

The SSWR conference is not only for showcasing new research, but also for rewarding previous work. Foster and his co-authors will be honored with the 2016 SSWR Research Book Award for Chasing the American Dream (Oxford University Press).

The amount and excellence of CoSW research at the SSWR conference is an indicator of a successful and dynamic program. As Hock explains, SSWR “is the premier venue for the top social work researchers” and acceptance is highly competitive. The CoSW’s strong presence there “signifies the College's success at accelerating research productivity and establishing our leadership at the national level.”

Andrew Arnold named volunteer of the year05.05/2016

During the annual Walk-A-Mile-In-Her-Shoes event, hosted by Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM), BSW student Andrew Arnold was honored with the 2016 Volunteer of the Year award.  Arnold initially volunteered in the office but felt compelled to do more after seeing the agency’s work first hand.  As a Volunteer Advocate, Arnold can work directly with survivors of sexual assault including accompanying survivors to local emergency rooms and/or answer calls on the crisis hotline.  He is also active in the agency’s Speakers Bureau, providing education and information to the community at events and health fairs.  Arnold hopes to continue working with the agency and the community to eventually rid our society of sexual assault and abuse.


CUL logo11.30.2015

Though the College of Social Work has many strong connections to the community, none are more historically significant than the relationship with the Columbia Urban League (CUL). According to James T. McLawhorn, President and CEO of the CUL, the National Urban League was founded in 1910 with a “social work methodology” for supporting African-Americans seeking opportunities during the Great Migration. Krystal Green, an alumna of the CoSW and Urban League program manager, believes that “the missions of the Urban League and the National Association of Social Workers are in sync,” as both organizations have missions focused on service to the community. Social work is embedded in the history of the Urban League, and likewise the local chapter has always had a robust relationship with the CoSW.

Graduate students in the CoSW have been enjoying field placements at the Columbia Urban League since the 1980s. Students placed at the CUL benefit from the expertise of McLawhorn, who Green describes as a “trailblazer” with “the spirit of a teacher.” According to McLawhorn, the CUL serves a variety of clients, including “over 500 youth in foster care and on Medicaid on a weekly basis,” and this provides an invaluable learning experience for interns, giving them the “opportunity to interact with clients who their profession is geared toward serving.” This early, hands-on experience is a key component of the graduate program that serves to better prepare our graduates for working in the field.

urban leagueGreen agrees that the MSW program at UofSC provided her with a solid foundation for her work with the CUL. “I have my license, and I believe that’s due to me going through the CoSW and them preparing me for that. I enjoyed my time, and I got to meet a lot of amazing people,” some of whom she is still in contact with as a field instructor. In short, the CoSW “still has a place in my heart.”

While in graduate school, Green’s field placement enabled her to work under the supervision of school social workers in Richland Districts 1 and 2. This experience has influenced her work with youth at the Urban League. She currently leads the “Level Up” program, a partnership with the Department of Social Services which serves youth by offering workshops on leadership, financial literacy, health and wellness, and career development—in essence, “all those essential skills they’re going to need as adults,” Green asserts.

Additionally, as a field instructor, Green gets to maintain her ties to the CoSW and share her experiences with graduate students. She supervises interns closely and asks about their coursework in order to facilitate connections between their learning in the classroom and the work they’re doing at the CUL. Progressing from MSW student to field instructor has been “an incredible journey” for her.

The best part of working at the CUL is giving and receiving “the gift of serving the community” every day, says Green, but sometimes these field placements turn into gainful employment. Of their current office staff, two have MSW degrees from UofSC and were first introduced to the CUL through their field placements.

When asked what he believes CoSW students can gain from a field placement with the CUL, McLawhorn did not hesitate: “The Urban League is first of all in the business of helping people, so if you have a passion for helping people to move to a better way of life, that’s fulfilling in itself. I don’t think there’s any more rewarding experience in life than to know you’ve made a positive impact in someone’s life.” For motivated social work students, there is surely no better incentive.


IMG 663305.01.2016

The Third Annual South Carolina School Behavioral Health Conference was held April 21-22, 2016 in Myrtle Beach. Dr. Aidyn Iachini, along with Kevin Rhodes from Kershaw County School District, and TFT scholars Mariah Bowen, Hannah Vaughn, and Brooke Barr represented the CoSW (Carissa Orlando, a doctoral student in the UofSC Department of Psychology also participated) by presenting papers and posters. Conferences like this provide students with the opportunity to share what they learned with other practitioners in the field and network with others in their area of interest.


Marcia taylorCongratulations to doctoral student Marcia Taylor, who was selected to receive a Harriet Hampton Faucette Award from Women and Gender Studies! The Faucette award is designed to assist Women’s and Gender Studies Graduate Certificate students with research and professional development. Proposed research must be consistent with the mission of Women’s and Gender Studies to reconceptualize knowledge, create new knowledge, and/or reinterpret existing knowledge through the lens of gender and the prism of diversity. 

Ms. Taylor received this award in support of her participation in the National Women’s Studies Association conference, something she attended because she is part of their Women of Color Leadership Project. At the conference Ms. Taylor was able to network with scholars in her field and participate in a professional development program.

Ms. Taylor’s research project is titled Revisiting Intersectionality: A Framework for Addressing Health Disparities among African American Women. The primary goal of this research is to explore theoretical frameworks that may provide an appropriate foundation for engaging African American women in community-based participatory research, around issues of health and wellness. An additional goal is to explore best practices for conducting culturally based and culturally focused intervention research with African American women.

monique mitchell book04.22.2016

The new book by Dr. Monique B. Mitchell, Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Child & Family Studies, will be hitting shelves in May. The Neglected Transition: Building a Relational Home for Children Entering Foster Care explores children’s experiences of loss and ambiguity as they transition into foster care, as well as the questions children ask during this critical life transition. Dr. Mitchell uses child-centered research, practical examples, and healing suggestions to create a foundation from which to build a relational home. Drawing from the compelling stories of children, she invites readers to join children on their journey as they transition into the foster care system and courageously share their experiences of loss, ambiguity, fear, and hope. Dr. Mitchell is passionate about enhancing the lives of children in foster care. Her research focuses on life transitions, meaning-making, grief and loss, ambiguity, and youth empowerment.

Order your copy of The Neglected Transition: Building a Relational Home for Children Entering Foster Care today at oup.com/us.


osa classroomAs America’s 65-and-older population continues to grow (i.e., 13 percent of the total population and growing at a rate of 15.1 percent every five years as of the 2010 census), the Arnold School of Public Health’s Office for the Study of Aging (OSA) is working to help promote healthy aging. Situated in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the Office works with professional and family caregivers, community organizations and policy makers in South Carolina and nationwide on various grants, contracts and collaborative partnerships in the areas of education, technical assistance and evaluation services.

Education for current and future caregivers is one of OSA’s specialties. For example, they have trained 21,000 South Carolinians with their Dementia Dialogues program and recently began a national rollout of the program. One of their most recent educational experiences was in the classroom. The fields of public health and social work have always shared common ground, and this connection was evidenced yet again when social work’s Nicole Cavanagh invited Macie Smith, OSA’s Program Development and Training Manager, into her classroom this fall.      

Cavanagh, an instructor and the bachelor’s degree field coordinator for the College of Social Work, asked Smith to train the students in her Advanced Intervention with Older Adults course with the Dementia Dialogues program. The initiative was part of an effort by the College to invest in quality leaders in the field of aging. The students from this class are also completing field experiences in aging organizations (e.g., Aging Resource Centers, Physicians' Offices, Assisted Living, Nursing Homes).

“Our Master of Social Work students are preparing to become specialists in the field of social work gerontology,” says Cavanagh. “This class enables them to learn about ‘real world’ interventions that can be used not only in their internships now but also in their professional practices after they graduate.”

Inside the classroom, Smith guided the students through the Dementia Dialogues training materials and person-centered approaches to care, and Cavanagh led discussions on theoretical and clinical aspects of the program. One of the students, Bonnie Bonomo, was able to offer her practical insights as the Chief of Operations for Leeza’s Care Connection (founded by TV news journalist and Season 7 Celebrity Apprentice Winner Leeza Gibbon and funded by Gibbons’ Memory Foundation), which uplifts, empowers and connects caregivers to resources and others on a similar journey. 

“The Dementia Dialogues provided students with a client-focused perspective to the aging process and the unique behaviors manifested as the client experiences changes associated with cognitive decline,” says Cavanagh. “It allows students to provide empathy, knowledge and feedback to families working toward understanding what is and will be going on with their loved ones.”  

“What I enjoyed most about the experience were the stories Macie Smith told to help us better understand the concepts she was trying to get across to us,” says Dana Daniel, one of the training participants who works part-time as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and is now completing her field experience with OSA’s S.C. Vulnerable Adult Guardian ad Litem Program. “As a CNA, I work first-hand with persons with dementia on numerous occasions, and this course has helped me better understand how to relate to and communicate with them and their family members.”

The collaboration also aligns perfectly with OSA’s role in implementing the recommendations for improving S.C.’s long-term care system and preparing the state for rapid growth in the aging population. “Two of the goals of the Long-term Care Workforce Development Consortium are to (1) increase the number of professionals specializing in long-term care and (2) ensure that all health care professionals have foundational competencies in long-term care services,” says Smith. “One of the ways we are working toward these goals is by working with universities to develop specialized long-term services and supports tracks and certifications within the health professions programs; this recent collaboration is an important step in that direction.”

Stacey M Olson04.18.2016

A spark that ignited in an undergraduate Child Advocacy Studies course at USC Upstate has now transitioned into a local adaptation of the National Compassionate Schools Initiative. Stacey Olson, a first year MSW student, is currently undertaking an Independent Study at the USC Upstate Child Protection Training Center to examine the existing framework of the Compassionate School Initiative established by Washington State. Under the direction and supervision of Dr. Jennifer Parker and Dr. Lynn McMillan of USC Upstate, and Dr. Naomi Farber with the USC College of Social Work Olson has completed an extensive review of the literature and helped propose a training series for educators in Spartanburg, SC. She says, “The thought of more than half of the children in an average classroom having some form of an adverse event in their life before the age of 18 inspired me to want to share this information with others.”

The Compassionate Schools framework provides a flexible structure that can be adapted to meet the unique needs of each school environment. The aim of the series of trainings is to create a universal understanding school-wide that traumatic event/s (in any form) can be stressful, burdensome, and have an enormous impact on a student’s ability to learn, form relationships, and behave appropriately. The goal is not to identify students who have experienced trauma, but rather to help schools recognize all children need skills of resilience.

Outside the classroom, Olson was also invited to participate on the Spartanburg Compassionate Schools Steering Committee and to be an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Master Trainer for South Carolina by the Children’s Trust of South Carolina.

For this initiative, each Spartanburg school district was offered 20 slots for school staff to attend a summer training workshop developed by the USC Upstate Child Protection Training Center. Participants will learn about the impact of traumatic experiences on a child's behavior and capacity to learn, and how to focus on compassionate responses in the classroom, among other topics.

s. To learn more, click here.


Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes11.09.2015

Congratulations to Dr. Kirk Foster! He is the recipient of the 2016 Society for Social Work and Research Book Award for his book entitled, “Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes.” Award recipients are recognized by the Society for outstanding scholarly contributions that advance social work knowledge, and will be presented at the Awards Presentation during the 2016 SSWR Annual Conference in Washington, DC. For more about Dr. Foster’s book, read here.

For more about Dr. Foster’s book, read here

Billingsley Awardees 201604.17.2016

The CoSW’s Institute for Families in Society and the African American Studies Program presented the 2016 Andrew Billingsley Faculty and Community Awards to Dr. Tisha Felder, USC College of Nursing, and Mr. James T. McLawhorn, Columbia Urban League, during the annual Robert Smalls lecture on March 30, 2016. The awards reflect the partnership between the two entities to jointly honor the legacy of Dr. Andrew Billingsley whose extensive body of work highlights the strength and resilience of African American families.

Dr. Tisha Felder, Andrew Billingsley Faculty Award winner, focuses her work on breast cancer prevention and control, with the goal to develop culturally responsive interventions that support mothers who desire to breastfeed and to improve evidence-based cancer care in African American and otherdisadvantaged populations. Mr. James T. McLawhorn, Andrew Billingsley Community Award winner, has initiated job training programs for African American women, fathers and youth; created multiple youth leadership initiatives; helped place foster children into permanent homes; and has promoted understanding and civil rights attainment in the Columbia area.

Click here to learn more.



The College of Social Work is constantly updating this page with resources to support families and children after the flooding disaster. If you have additional resources you would like to share, please send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • The American Red Cross is offering a national webinar:
    Disaster Mental Health Fundamentals webinar
    Tuesday, November 10th from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. ET.
    This course is required for all new Disaster Mental Health volunteers and is only open to mental health professionals who meet the DMH eligibility criteria. Current DMH volunteers who would like a refresher are eligible to retake the training via webinar. Register here for the webinar.
    Participants must register by November 9th. For more information, please read the DMHF course fact sheet, and contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions.
  • Responding to Natural Disasters: Helping Children and Families: Information for School Crisis Teams
    Written by the National Association of School Psychologists, this covers a lot of ground for parents and teachers.
  • Childhood Trauma Reactions: A Guide for Teachers from Preschool to Year 12
    This is an excellent resource on trauma, developed in Australia (so the emergency numbers won’t work!), including developmental stages of children and typical responses to traumatic stress, as well as how to manage traumatic stress in the school setting. Very well put together.
  • Psychological First Aid Manual (Handouts)
    This is a whole series of handouts for parents, teachers and caregivers that are developmentally organized. The many of the same handouts are available on the National Child Traumatic Stress Network site (listed next), with individual PDFs for each. 
    • Connecting with Others
    • When Terrible Things Happen
    • When Terrible Things Happen (for students—this is a great one pager for students, late grade school on up)
    • Parent Tips for Helping Infants and Toddlers after Disasters
    • Parent Tips for Helping Preschool Age Children after Disasters
    • Parent Tips for School Age Children after Disasters
    • Parent Tips for Adolescents after Disasters
    • Tips for Adults after Disasters
    • Tips for Relaxation
    • Alcohol, Medication and Drug Use after Disaster

Darby Enright04.12.2016

BSW student Darby Enright was presented with the 2016 Stand Up Carolina award. The Stand Up Carolina Hero Awards, hosted by Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention & Prevention, recognize accountable bystanders—members of the University of South Carolina community whospeak up,stand up, take action, and make a difference in the lives of others. Through a variety of actions and deeds, large and small, Stand Up Carolina Hero Award recipients have helped friends, classmates, coworkers, and even complete strangers.

Darby said, “I am so humbled and thankful to have received a Stand Up Carolina HERO Award. I am blessed to attend a University that has offered me so many opportunities to grow both in leadership and philanthropic efforts."


CarterMoore FIn recognition of her contributions to campus life, Felissa Carter-Moore, Chief Financial Officer and Director of Administrative Operations at the College of Social Work, has been selected to the inaugural USC Emerging Leaders Program for the 2015-2016 year.

The USC Emerging Leaders Program is designed to strengthen institutional readiness by developing people for leadership positions.

“I am looking forward to assessing my current leadership skills and learning strategies to develop those skills that will help me do my job better,” Carter-Moore said. “I am also looking forward to networking with other administrators from other departments where we can share experiences.”

As the Chief Financial Officer and Director of Administrative Operations, Carter-Moore has oversight responsibility for administrative operations of the College related to fiscal activities, human resources, tuition and fees, budget development and planning, procurement, foundation funds and scholarship accounts, grants and contracts management.

Prior to joining the College of Social Work, Carter-Moore served as finance manager for Health Sciences South Carolina and business manager for the College of Pharmacy. She is a member of the South Carolina Women in Higher Education and the Government Finance Officers Association of South Carolina.

Thinking like a Social Worker


CoSW faculty Terry Wolfer and Melissa Reitmeier will present the inaugural Case Method Training Institute July 20-23, 2016. The purpose of this training institute is to equip social workers, educators and field instructors to foster critical thinking and problem solving skills. Case method teaching requires active participation, application of relevant theory and the generation and evaluation of solutions. Dr. Wolfer, CoSW PhD Program Coordinator, has co-edited or coauthored six collections of decision cases, including most recently Decision Cases for Advanced Social Work Practice: Confronting Complexity. Dr. Reitmeier, Director of CoSW Field Education, has taught the case-based MSW capstone course for 12 years, authored several decision cases, and conducted research on learning outcomes of case method teaching.

This Training Institute qualifies for 15 CEUs. For additional information and registrations, click here.


flood vol2Individually and collectively, members of the College of Social Work community have been responding to the overwhelming disaster relief needs in the Midlands. As a whole, the College is leading a food and supply drive, and is helping our own students, faculty, and staff who have had losses as a result of the storm. In addition, individual students, staff, and faculty have been volunteering at a range of locations, helping to unload water, deliver food, clean up flood debris, and provide support in any way they can. As examples, we have had volunteers at the A. C. Flora shelter, Rosewood Baptist Church, Temple of Faith Bible Way Church, Harvest Hope, USC Russell House, St. Lawrence Place, Seven Oaks Leisure center, Able SC, Aiken County Sheriff’s Department, God’s Storehouse, Operation BBQ, Intimidators, and Crossroads Baptist Church.

flood vol1

The College student associations are also working together with faculty and staff to develop longer-range support plans for our community.

Keep South Carolina in your thoughts. It has been a tragic time, but our College and our community are #SCStrong!

flood vol3


A new study abroad program recently returned from India, and the 15 students and 2 faculty involved will treasure the experience for a lifetime. Dr. Melissa Reitmeier, Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of Field Education, calls it “a life-changing experience on so many levels” and “an intellectual opportunity.”

The program is the result of an ongoing cultural exchange between Maharaja Sayajirao (M.S.) University of Baroda in Gujrarat, India, and the College of Social Work under the leadership of Dean Anna Scheyett. Last year, Professors Bhavna Mehta and M. N. Parmar visited USC thanks to a Provost’s Visiting Scholars grant. During their visit, they expressed interest in developing field placements, and a study abroad program was offered as a first step. Clinical Assistant Professor and program leader Sudie Nallo was able to visit India previously on grant from the Walker Institute of International and Area Studies, and she hopes that USC’s relationship with the M. S. University continues beyond these grants. “I hope these students will be ambassadors” and enable an ongoing relationship, she says. Reitmeier joined Nallo as an additional faculty member to supervise the students and to assess what global field and service learning opportunities for social work practice might exist. She was also there to identify and encourage collaborations between faculty with similar research interests.

india1According to Nallo and Reitmeier, India offers social work students a new perspective, not only on how to solve social problems but what constitute social problems in the first place. India’s population is so huge, explains Reitmeier, that the size of the population results in an approach to solving social problems that is at times “more progressive and innovative even than ours.”

Each morning, students attended lectures at the M. S. University and then went on observations in the afternoons. Students were able to draw fruitful comparisons between the cultural and social problems addressed in the lectures and what they are learning back home. For example, one lecture dealt with the topic of domestic violence, and students noted that both India and South Carolina have high rates of domestic violence and were able to view an issue with which they have some familiarity through a different lens. Nallo says she “implored students not to see India as different, and challenged them to see similarities.”

india2Students were able to observe social work in a variety of contexts, including a hospital, a vocational school, an ashram, and the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). At SEWA, students toured both the factory and the store run by the women. At the Muni Seva Ashram, students visited a day care, a nursing school, an obstetric/gynecological clinic, and a home for the elderly. Students also visited Gandhi’s home and the Akshardham, a grand Hindu temple.

The trip made an indelible impact on everyone. Allison Volk, a second-year MSW student, says visiting rural villages and seeing the passion of the social work practitioners “made me want to be more pro-active and fight for things” when necessary. Student Briannea Hastie agrees, noting that, comparatively, “we have so many privileges and resources” here in the United States that we should not hesitate when faced with barriers.

Reitmeier’s favorite part of the trip was seeing students’ personal and professional growth: “It really was a life-changing experience in terms of having the opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture but within the same profession—we’re all working toward the same thing.” Donna Dixon, also a second-year MSW student, agrees that “we all kind of approach social issues the same way,” and for her this realization was incredibly inspiring. “We’re not alone” in wanting to change the world, she says. “They’re working, too.”

Plans are already underway to offer the program next winter, while the first cohort eagerly anticipates a reunion soon.


Piccini NicoleThe College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina announced today that senior BSW candidate Nicole Piccini was selected to receive the inaugural Johnson Scholarship.

The Johnson Scholarship was created to honor recently retired Dr. Miriam Johnson. As Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, Dr. Miriam made countless contributions to the College of Social Work and the BSW program. The Johnson Scholarship awards $250.00 each semester to a student in the BSW Upper Division Program that has well defined professional goals.

“What impressed the Selection Committee (three representatives from the Undergraduate Committee and I) the most about Ms. Piccini’s scholarship application was that her goals were specific and included a well thought-out time frame for when they could be completed including obtaining a graduate degree and obtaining practice experience,” said Dr. Daniel Freedman, BSW Program Coordinator and a representative of the Undergraduate Committee.

Piccini goals are to become a pediatric oncology social worker and develop social policies. She has maintained a GPA of 4.0 in the BSW Upper Division Program and has made the President’s list of Undergraduate students.

“When I found out I won the award I was very surprised but excited as well!” Piccini said. “I knew the scholarship would be competitive and I was competing against a lot of wonderful people in my cohort. It was relief winning, as well, because I am paying out-of-state tuition, which is very expensive. So any little bit of money off my tuition helps a great deal.”

Piccini gives back to the community by volunteering at Harvest Hope and for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) One Walk. She has also served on her sorority’s Philanthropy Committee.

More information on the Johnson Scholarship and other scholarships at the College of Social Work can be found at  www.cosw.sc.edu/financial-aid/scholarships-fellowships

Carla Damron book cover03.10.2016

The Stone Necklace might not feature a social worker character, but Carla Damron’s background in the field nonetheless informs her writing. Damron, an alumna of the USC College of Social Work’s MSW program, is the author of the Caleb Knowles books which follow a clinical social worker as he solves mysteries, so her most recent novel is a bit of a departure.

The Stone Necklace is set in Columbia, SC, and follows the intersecting lives of a diverse cast of characters, including a nurse, a homeless man, and a teenage girl. Just published in February, The Stone Necklace has already received acclaim: in addition to being called “masterful” by renowned author Pat Conroy, the novel was selected for the One Book, One Community initiative this year. The purpose of One Book, One Community is to engage Richland County residents by reading a book together, generating discussion, and participating in events centered on the book.

As this year’s One Book selection, The Stone Necklace has been serialized in The State newspaper and been the focus of numerous cultural events. Damron recalls being shocked by the first book event, held at a small library branch. She expected perhaps a dozen people, but almost 100 showed up. The purpose of One Book is to bring a community together, and Damron feels that the One Book organizers have been incredibly creative in this regard, sponsoring an improv night, a jewelry-making class, and a photography show, in which three photographers captured images of people and locations around Columbia inspired by the novel.

In addition to staying busy with One Book events, Damron serves as the Executive Director of the South Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-SC). Prior to her role with NASW-SC, Damron worked at the Department of Mental Health. Her experience as a social worker informs both the content of her writing and the ways in which she approaches the writing process. “Because I’ve worked in mental health for so long,” she explains, “I use the same approach I use when I work with clients in working with the characters” in order to create fully-realized people with compelling back stories and motivations. With The Stone Necklace, Damron wanted to pull from her social work knowledge and write about recovery. “I’m a great believer in recovery,” she says, “so that was a thread I wanted to be there.” As it turns out, the main characters of The Stone Necklace “are all dealing with their own recovery story in one way or another.”

Social work informs Damron’s writing, but is the reverse true? Damron’s work with NASW-SC requires a variety of writing, including editorials, newsletter articles, and letters. The work of advocacy, in short, demands a good writer. Damron believes that writing, whether a novel or case notes, “teaches you to think creatively and problem-solve creatively.”

Creativity is an aspect of social work that Damron appreciates. “One thing I love about social work is that it’s such a wide field,” she says. “There’s so many different things you can do,” she notes, running through the various roles she’s held over the years, including counselor, therapist, program manager, and administrator. For now, though, she’s happy as a novelist/advocate, using her gift with words to make a difference: “I feel like it’s my job to be a voice for all of South Carolina’s social workers and the clients we serve.”


Alumnus TJ Rumler, MSW, was selected as one of the “Greenville Business Magazine’s Best and Brightest 35 and under” for his outstanding service in the community. Along with him, another alumna was highlighted in the same article. Lillian Sanders, LMSW, 2009 graduate of CoSW program.

Presented by Furman University, Greenville Magazine’s Best and Brightest 2015 recognizes the county’s leaders who are 35 and under. The 38 people who were selected come from a wide range of business areas and are selected for their commitment to serve and give back to the community.

“When I found out I was selected I felt honored and humbled,” Rumler said. “Accolades aren't always important to me, but this one meant a lot. Being from Greenville, it felt really good to be recognized for the work I do in our community.”

Rumler works as a Mental Health Specialist at Tanglewood Middle School to assist students who have academic and behavioral needs. He also works as a Residence Counselor at the Marshall I. Pickens Hospital in the Greenville Health System to support young patients with emotional disorders.

Rumler has worked as a case manager with Project Care and as a house manager at the Emergency Shelter to find housing for homeless individuals. He also worked with veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs and is a US Army veteran himself. He volunteers with the Greenville Junior Chamber and other community organizations.

“For almost every person I serve I can look at their situation and say, ‘this could have been me,’”Rumler said. “Often times I have actually been in their shoes myself. I just try to be the type of social worker I would have wanted when I was at my lowest.”

He credits his variety of experience to the MSW program of the University of South Carolina and is thankful to the program for helping guide him through his career.

“The MSW program gave me a foundation of practical knowledge and experience to ground my existing empathy and passion for serving others,” Rumler said. “Completing the program with so many extraordinary individuals from my cohort also provided me with a vast array of perspectives and ideas--and those definitely helped shape me.”

The community members chosen to represent “Greenville Business Magazine’s Best and Brightest 35 and under” come from a variety of business backgrounds. However, Rumler hopes to see more social workers chosen in the future.

“There are so many amazing people in our field, and unfortunately most are never recognized for their hard work and sacrifices,” Rumler said. “If you know of someone deserving, please take the time to nominate them next year so our profession continues to shine!”

More information about TJ Rumler and” Greenville Business Magazine’s Best and Brightest 35 and under” can be found here.

IMG 139903.10.2016

Dr. Sue Levkoff is the recent recipient of an R25 grant from the National Institute on Aging, one of the institutes of the National Institutes of Health. An R25 grant, she explains, is a research education grant, and this one will allow her to provide undergraduate students from five historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in South Carolina with research training in aging, medicine, and STEM at UofSC. Levkoff has the active involvement of several UofSC faculty including: Dr. Alan White, Associate Dean for Undergraduate STEM Education for the College of Arts and Sciences, who has been a leader in the field of science education and will help ensure that the training program meets the educational needs of the participating students; Dr. Jenay Beer, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Sciences and Engineering and College of Social Work; Dr. Shaun Owens, Assistant Professor in the College of Social Work; Sudie Nallo, Clinical Assistant Professor in the College of Social Work; and Dr. Lauren Clark, Research Manager in the UofSC Office of Research. A long-time colleague of Levkoff from Harvard Medical School, Dr. Hongtu Chen, serves as the outside evaluator for the program.

IMG 1406The overall goal of the SC-ADAR program is to increase the number of qualified underrepresented racial and ethnic minority students who pursue scientific graduate studies in programs focused on science and aging. The components of the SC-ADAR include: two ten-week summer research training programs, in which selected students will work in a lab under the mentorship of a UofSC faculty member, participate in courses developed specifically for the program to introduce students to the basic biological and social theories of aging, attend professional development seminars offered by the UofSC Office of Research, and engage in networking events with other students participating in summer National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates programs at UofSC. The summer program is a full-time residential program, with students being paid a stipend and living in campus housing. The SC-ADAR summer will culminate in a poster presentation at UofSC Summer Research Day.

IMG 1394Levkoff cites the valuable input of coordinators at the HBCUs in nominating students to apply for the program. After a competitive application process, a cohort of eight students, hailing from Allen University, Benedict College, Claflin University, and Morris College, was chosen. Eight new students will be selected each year for the five years covered by the R25 grant funding.

The SC-ADAR is “completely interdisciplinary,” which is Levkoff’s modus operandi. “For over 30 years as a social scientist faculty member at Harvard Medical School, I have collaborated with physicians on various research studies and educational training programs,” she says, so she’s accustomed to, and enjoys working with, people in other fields. “The opportunity with the SC-ADAR is to take those interdisciplinary skills, working across disciplines and bringing people together” and turn them into wonderful research training opportunities. Levkoff reached out to many UofSC schools and departments, including medicine, nursing, public health, and computer science and engineering, in order to identify research mentors willing to accept students into their labs and offer them experiences in research. From the resulting list of faculty labs, students were able to choose what interested them most. The matching process ensures that students are paired with a project and mentor that best fit their interests and goals; likewise, it allows faculty members to choose students who they believe would be the best fit for their lab.

The program extends past the two summer research experiences, though. Levkoff explains, “each student has two co-mentors, one at UofSC who will serve as the primary mentor during the summer research training, and one at the HBCU, who will serve as the primary mentor during the academic year between the two summer sessions.” When students return to their home institutions for their junior year, they will meet with their HBCU mentors, who will serve as “cheerleaders” to encourage the students’ sustained interest and enthusiasm in research and in pursuing graduate school education in the sciences or health professions. The HBCU mentors will also offer hands-on support with the application process for graduate training, all of which Levkoff hopes will lead to students pursuing careers in academic medicine and/or STEM fields as they relate to aging. Levkoff is especially proud of the proposed co-mentoring model, and hopes that those HBCU co-mentors who wish to collaborate on aging –related research with UofSC mentors will have the support to do so through the SC-ADAR program.

Providing this training in research is a calling for Dr. Levkoff. She notes that although her focus is primarily research, “I see myself as an educator, and the most important thing I can do as a professor is train the next generation.” She cites the immense privilege of having a strong educational background as her motivation. “It’s my turn to give back,” she says, and ensure that minority students have access to the mentors, education, and research opportunities that they might not otherwise have.


World Congress Group PhotoThe College of Social Work,the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Office of Research at the University of South Carolina were co- sponsors for this international congress along with the Clifford Beers Foundation. On Thursday morning, September 10th, Dean Anna Scheyett provided welcoming remarks along with Dr. Mary Anne Fitzpatrick, and Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti.

The meeting emphasized innovations that promote mental health and wellbeing for all individuals in the key areas of:

  • Integrated Health
  • Positive Psychology
  • School Mental Health
  • Social and Technological Innovation
  • Underserved Populations
  • Wellbeing

The College of Social Work was well represented with poster presentations by four doctoral students: Tori Charles, Andy Flaherty, Kyunghee Ma, and Aliza Petiwala as well as presentations by Social Work faculty, staff and doctoral students:

Huong Nguyen, Aidyn Iachini, Mellissa Reitmeier, and Anna Scheyett, “Developing school mental health services in Vietnam.”

Teri Browne, Aidyn Iachini, Kristen Seay, Mary Ann Priester (doctoral student), Stephanie Clone (staff), & Dana DeHart, “Enhancing substance use treatment services in the rural South: Recommendations from clients and stakeholders.”

Tori Charles, Caroline Pantridge (staff), Dana DeHart, Aidyn Iachini, Stephanie Clone (staff), Teri Browne, & Kristen Seay, “ Examining the role of peer support services in a substance abuse treatment setting: A ground-level view of evidence-based practice.”

Andy Flaherty, Aidyn Iachini, Ronald Pitner, Morgan, F. (school district partners), & Rhodes, K (school district partner) , “Exploring the principal perspective on unmet teacher and student needs: Implications for school mental health.”

Aliza Petiwala, Aidyn Iachini, & Dana DeHart, “Using the Life History Calendar (LHC) as a tool to assess for adverse childhood experiences.

Mary Ann Priester & Nikki Wooten, “The association of adverse childhood experiences and tobacco use.”

Kyunghee Ma, “Acculturation stress & coping strategies among international students from East Asia.”

Trang Nguyen, “Using psychodrama to improve decision making of psychiatric patients.”

Carman Fowler (psychology student) and Nikki Wooten, “Are community service program correlates of crime rates in South Carolina?”

Interprofessional collaborators included:

Teri Browne, (social work), Aidyn Iachini, (social work), Sara Goldsby, (social work alumna), Beverly Baliko, (nursing), Betsy Blake, (pharmacy) & Chris Goodman, (medicine), “Training interprofessional students to promote mental health and wellbeing.”

Beverly Baliko (nursing), Rebecca Payne (medicine), Teri Browne (social work), Shilpa Srinivasan (medicine), Suzanne Hardeman (medicine), David Murday (public health), & Mary Boyd, (nursing), “SBIRT in health professional training: Confidence in treating substance use disorders among an interdisciplinary cohort.”

Robert Hock (social work), Melissa George (psychology), Ryan Carlson (education), Gerda Kumpiene (doctoral student in special education), Mark Weist (psychology), & Mitch Yell (education), “Perceptions of facilitators and barriers to family-school partnerships among parents of high-school youth with emotional and behavioral disorders.”

Naomi Ekas (TX), Kathleen Franke (Psychology), & Robert Hock (social work), “Rethinking autism spectrum disorders (ASD): A positive approach to families of children with ASD.”

Aidyn Iachini & Sandra Rogelberg (educational psychology doctoral student), “Aspire: A motivational interviewing intervention for high school students at-risk of dropout.”

Kurt Michael (NC), Melissa George (psychology), John Paul Jameson (NC), Abby Albright Bode (graduate student – psychology), Aidyn Iachini (social work), Mark Weist (psychology), Whitney van Sant (NC), & Chris Minard (NC), “Preliminary outcomes of a multi-site, school-based modular intervention for adolescents experiencing mood difficulties.”

Nikki R. Wooten, Karen Leon Negreiros (social work student), Larrell Wilkinson (AL), Edith Williams (ASPH-IPEHD), Saundra Glover (ASPH-HSPM), Matthew Herring (UofLimerick), & Shawn D. Youngstedt (AZ), “Gender differences in psychological health during Army basic combat training.”

Institute for Families in Society:

Patricia Motes, Crystal McWhirter (doctoral student – Psychology), Kathy Mayfield-Smith & Ana Lopez-DeFede, “Integrating behavioral health into pediatric care: A South Carolina demonstration project.”


Kyunghee MaKyunghee Ma, a CoSW Ph.D. student, has received two grants to further her research, “Acculturation Stress and Depression among International Students from China and India at the University of South Carolina” from the USC Office of Research and the Shorelight Education Research Project. Ms. Ma’s research explores the relationship between acculturation stress and depression among first-year international students from China and India at USC and also examines the moderating impact of social support on depression. Her studies focus on students from collectivist Asian cultures because these students are more vulnerable to the negative impact of acculturation stress on mental health due to cultural emphasis on internal regulations and stigma associated with mental illness.
The USC Office of Research sponsors the Support to Promote Advancement of Research and Creativity (SPARC) grant to provide funding but also to give students the experience of preparing a competitive grant application. The Shorelight Education Research Project is a pilot effort to encourage research about international student success at our partner universities. This is the inaugural distribution of funds.


panoramic view

After much anticipation, the College of Social Work is installed in its new home in Hamilton College. A dedication ceremony on Friday, the 11th of September, 2015, featured guest speakers, garnet and black balloons, and a palpable excitement. The audience was comprised of administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni, as well as representatives from the Board of Visitors and the Board of Trustees.

hamilton celebration 2

The College of Social Work was previously scattered across campus at multiple facilities, so the move to Hamilton College represents an opportunity to build a stronger identity and community. Built in the 1940s to accommodate naval training, Hamilton College required $17.5 million of renovations.

hamilton celebration 3

Dean Anna Scheyett opened the ceremony by welcoming the assembled crowd to the “sleek and beautiful educational space” that will enable the CoSW to become united as “one roof and one scholarly community.” Dean Scheyett’s remarks were followed by USC President Harris Pastides, who emphasized the importance of social work to the university and beyond, citing the CoSW’s local and international partnerships. He praised the CoSW’s outstanding scholarship and expressed hope that moving into the new space will result in even more dynamic work via improved morale and increased opportunities for interaction. He ended his speech by exhorting members of the College to keep Hamilton’s doors open, maintaining and expanding our relationships with other disciplines and community partners.

hamilton celebration 1

The dedication ceremony also featured the Honorable John von Lehe and alumna Carla Damron. Von Lehe, who is a member of the Board of Trustees, spoke of his mother, Agenora Adams von Lehe, a school superintendent and social worker who dedicated her life to child welfare. He recently established the Agenora Adams von Lehe Endowed Fellowship Fund, and he thanked attendees for allowing him the opportunity to honor and remember her. Damron, who is the current Executive Director of the South Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers as well as a novelist, echoed Dean Scheyett’s earlier comments about the importance of social work and advocacy, and she argued that moving into Hamilton College is a “powerful message” to all CoSW students that their chosen path is a special one and that they are incredibly deserving of this beautiful space.

After the ceremonial ribbon-cutting, guests moved into the Hamilton atrium for a reception. The atrium lobby is a welcoming space that features the original hardwood floors from the former Hamilton gymnasium. Just inside the door is a mural that depicts the history of the building and of the CoSW. Student-led tours highlighted the computer labs, the faculty/staff and student lounges, and the courtyard. One unique feature in the building is an observation suite attached to one of the classrooms. The suite is equipped with cameras and two-way mirrors, which allow students opportunities to practice client-provider interactions, watch their performances, and receive feedback.

Though September 11 may seem an odd choice for such a celebratory occasion, Dean Scheyett suggested that on that day in 2001, we learned “that the world needs healing, justice, and peace.” Those three things are precisely what social work is about, “and that’s what we dedicate our building to today,” announced Scheyett.


astrid casasolaCoSW is pleased to congratulate Ms. Astrid Casasola, a senior in our baccalaureate social work program, on winning the 2016 Outstanding BSW Student by the NASW-SC. Ms. Casasola has a strong cumulative GPA, and has been on the Dean’s list every semester at USC-Columbia since fall 2012.  Among her many community outreach interests, she is a founding member of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, a service-based organization that strives to establish a sisterhood that is passionate about providing service. Dr. Dan Freedman describes Ms. Casasola as “one of the most compassionate, motivated, and intelligent students I have ever taught.” The award will be presented during the Town Hall meeting of the NASW-SC spring symposium, March 21-23, in Columbia, SC. 

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By Morgan Smith

After 46 years of offices and classrooms spread out all across campus, disconnecting students and professors by several blocks, the College of Social Work finally has its own building to call home.

hamilton entrance

Hamilton College, originally built as a naval training base in 1942, now accommodates the College of Social Work in its Pendleton Wing.

The building underwent a $17.5 million renovation that brings Hamilton College up to speed with some of the university’s more modern architecture. The building is fully equipped with state of the art technology, conference rooms, offices, numerous classrooms and a computer lab.  

With all of the College of Social Work’s resources and amenities in the same building, students and professors now have a single place to learn, gather and build relationships.

Allison James, a junior social work major, said she has already seen the benefits of having all of her professors and advisors in the same building as her classes.

hamilton lobby

“It’s so much more convenient,” James said. “My freshman year the old building was in Desaussure, my classes were all over the place and my advisor was in a different building. It’s so much easier to have them all right there.”

James said that she and her professors already have a much better relationship because she can stop to see them, ask questions and even just say hello.

Not only has the new building made student life easier and shown immediate benefits between student and faculty; advisors and professors are now closer to their colleagues, which makes it easier to collaborate on curriculum and research.

According to Dean Anna Scheyett, the third floor of the Pendleton Wing connects directly to the Department of Psychology, which aids them in research and social work development.

“It turns out that a number of our collaborators from psychology are just through the Pickens street connector,” Dean Scheyett said. “We didn’t even know that was going to happen.”

Students, faculty and staff all have their fair share of excitement for the building and its amenities. Whether that is the easier connection between people in the college, the educational opportunities that arise from the technological features or the restored architecture of the building, people appear to be satisfied with the move to Hamilton College.

The College of Social Work’s dedication ceremony is on Friday, September 11 at 10:30 a.m. President Harris Pastides, Board of Trustees member John von Lehe, and alumna Carla Damron, executive director of the South Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, will speak at the ceremony, followed by student-led tours and light refreshments.



WKD2016CoSW faculty member Dr. Teri Browne is a Co-Investigator on a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) funded project to provide a model of care that improves the lives of patients with kidney disease and their families. Kidney Prepare Now, which stands for
Resources to
And Families’
Readiness to
Engage in Kidney Care
Break the News
Review your Options
Weigh the Pros and Cons,
puts patients at the center of their care. The five year study seeks to improve the care patients receive as they transition through stages of kidney disease toward kidney failure and study whether these changes lead to improved patient health and well-being. For additional information on Kidney Prepare Now, visit www.kidneypreparenow.org.

Samantha Favors08.20.2015

BSW student Samantha Favors was homeless for years until she found Palmetto Place Children's shelter. There, she actually had a clean bed and the basics need to finish high school. It was thanks to the shelter that today she is in her 3rd year studying to become a social worker. Read more from her interview with WLTX here and to learn about the shelter, click here.



Andrews CThe College of Social Work (CoSW) is pleased to announce that Dr. Christina Andrews' project entitled “Addiction Treatment Medicaid Health Home” recently received funding for a distinguished Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (called a "K01"), funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The purpose of the K01 award is to provide support and “protected time” (three, four, or five years) for an intensive, supervised career development experience in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences leading to research independence. For the next five years, Dr. Andrews will assess the impact of health homes on enrollment of eligible Medicaid beneficiaries who need addiction treatment, as well as the use and costs of addiction treatment and acute care for addiction-related conditions.

The Co-PIs for the project are John Brooks and Dr. Janice Probst, both from UofSC Health Services Policy and Management.

The UofSC has been awarded a total of seven K01 awards, and the CoSW has received two of these prestigious awards. Dr. Nikki Wooten also currently has a K01 award for a project entitled “Behavioral Health Care in Army Warrior Transition Units.”


callout 08 southafricaBSW student, Allison Ryan has always been dedicated to helping others and getting out of her comfort zone.  Most recently, she decided to study abroad hoping to grow and learn from the experience. She chose to go to South Africa and stayed at Stellenbosch University, to gain knowledge about higher education in other countries and learn how children thrive in different environments. Read more here.


More and more social workers, nurses, counselors, clergy, teachers and other community partners will encounter military members in their professional and personal lives.

The College of Social Work and Continuing Education and Conferences have partnered to present Military Matters, a self-paced online certificate program for anyone working with military personnel, family members and/or veterans. This 10 course program teaches military culture, health and mental health, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, substance issues, and special populations. Taught by CoSW faculty Dr. Nancy Brown, participants may register for the certificate or choose individual courses. For additional information or to register for Military Matters, please click here.


The College of Social Work is pleased to welcome three new faculty from unique backgrounds, spanning the fields of substance use and public health, from locations as distant as Oklahoma and Kenya: Bethany Bell, PhD, University of South Florida; Rhonda DiNovo, MSW, Ohio State University; and Patrice Penney, MSW, University of Illinois. Despite their differences, all three of them are linked by the desire to effect positive change, whether by strengthening communities or mentoring students.

Beathany BellBethany Bell
Bethany Bell comes to the CoSW by way of the College of Education, where she taught courses in statistics. Previously, she started a mobile immunization van program in Oklahoma and worked for AmeriCorps.

Dr. Bell’s current research on food access focuses on communities and bridges the fields of public health and social work. Bell is concerned with “how the context in which we live affects our health,” and thinks of herself more as a statistician than what people typically think of as a social worker. She brings to the CoSW knowledge of applied research methods and rich, interdisciplinary experiences.

Rhonda DiNovoRhonda DiNovo
Rhonda DiNovo’s wealth of experience benefits her students. She joins the faculty after serving as Director of UofSC’s Office of Substance Abuse Prevention and Education. DiNovo has worked in substance abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment, and she finds that counseling and prevention education are just other forms of teaching. DiNovo is eager to translate those skills and experiences from her behavioral health career into the college classroom for her students.

DiNovo believes that the greatest reward as a professor is watching students graduate: “to know that I contributed to their love of learning and becoming a professional social worker, that’s incredibly rewarding.”

Patrice PenneyPatrice Penney
Patrice Penney has over thirty years of experience “in the trenches,” counseling children at risk and their families. She has worked with impoverished families in urban Chicago, refugees, immigrants, and African orphans and their caregivers.

Penney is the founder of the Initiative for Children at Risk Africa (ICARA), a non-profit that provides training for caregivers of vulnerable and orphaned children. She began developing this training after moving to Kenya in 2003 and realizing that caregivers there could benefit from more knowledge about the needs of children who have experienced trauma. ICARA has a presence in Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Lesotho, with plans to expand to other countries soon.

IMG 299002.28.2015

On February 25, the College of Social Work and the I. Dequincy Newman Institute for Peace and Social Justice welcomed the community to a night of listening, laughter and even tears. The Spigner House was full of interested attendees, colleagues, and family and friends of Patrick Patterson, President of Global Partners for Fathers and Family Consulting, LLC and South Carolina native.

Patterson, who has his dual Masters in Social Work and Public Health from the University of South Carolina, delivered a heartfelt presentation called “5 Habits of Good Fathers that Build Strong Families.”

He unapologetically revealed the most influential moments and people in his life while providing the audience with stories, tips and motivation to build a strong foundation for their families, children, and futures.

As a man who understands the influence of having a father present in his life and not having a father present in his life, Patterson has made it his mission for the past 20 years to work with fathers to strengthen their families.

“I work with fathers not to help them, but in hopes to help their children,” Patterson said. “I hope my work is a reflection of the people who influenced me in my life.”

Not only does he aim to help fathers create a better life for their sons and daughters, he has also recently taken local initiatives to help boys become respectful men who may one day become role-model fathers for their children.

Last year, Patterson, his brother and about 10 other people including Dean Scheyett, hosted a Conference for Black Men and Boys in South Carolina. With a goal of just 200 attendees, they exceeded that goal by achieving 600 attendees.

“This year, by popular demand, we are doing it again,” Patterson said. “The legacy lives on.”

They will be hosting their second annual Conference for Black Men and Boys on September 10 at the Double Tree Hotel in Columbia, SC.

Before the conference on April 30, there will be a Fatherhood Awards Breakfast where they hope to raise $10,000 to award as scholarships to boys at the conference.

They will honor five men at the breakfast: Tom Keith, President of Sisters of Charity of South Carolina; Archie Lattimore, Marcus Lattimore’s father; Dr. David Swinton, 13th President of Benedict College; James Patterson Jr., Patterson’s brother; and Frank Martin, USC men’s basketball coach.

The I. DeQuincey Newman Institute for Peace and Social Justice seeks to continue the mission of Reverend I. DeQuincey Newman by promoting social justice through interdisciplinary education, consultation, and research at the community, state, national, and international levels. To that end, the Newman Institute serves as a resource and advocates for underserved populations in South Carolina.  For 10 years, the Newman Lecture has brought together social work practitioners, researchers, academics and community members for a grassroots dialogue.  

Dean Anna Scheyett closed the discussion by honoring Patterson’s strength and ability to use his life experience to help others better their lives.

“The word that kept coming to mind was ‘miracle’,” Dean Scheyett said. “The miracle of laughter, the miracle of forgiving, family, and love. Thank you for sharing the miracle of calling.”



Patrick Patterson and LattimorePatrick Patterson graduated with a joint MSW/MPH degree in 2000, and now he has his very own successful consulting firm, Global Partners for Fathers and Families, which is sponsoring a conference August 29 in Columbia that aims to empower young men of color. Patterson notes that almost 70% of African-American children in South Carolina grow up without a father, which is almost double the national average. Additionally, little more than half of boys of color gradate high school. Patterson was determined to get to the root of the problem.

Patterson is a problem-solver. As a graduate student, Patterson says, “I came here with a pure heart to do the work, but USC gave me the skills and knowledge” to really make a difference. His internship with a fatherhood initiative also expanded his knowledge of the world—before coming to the university, he hadn’t explored much of the state, but by graduation he had visited every county in South Carolina. He says that having the opportunity to see the rest of the state affected him greatly, and he has since traveled to almost every state and a few countries.

Today, he is focused on his consulting firm, which offers grant writing trainings and technical assistance to public and private agencies on effective program management and evaluation. As president and founder of Global Partners for Fathers and Families, Patterson devotes his time and energy to many different agencies and organizations, but he hasn’t forgotten the graduate program that helped pave the way. Earlier this year, Patterson created the Patterson/Woods Endowed Fellowship Fund to support COSW students from underrepresented groups. Patterson’s chief mission is giving back to his community, whether by serving social work students, young men, or families.

The South Carolina Male Achievement conference aims “to look at solutions to move these men and boys forward,” says Patterson. The conference will encourage men to spend time with their kids and “really equip the youth with conflict management skills and leadership skills,” says Patterson. The event is co-sponsored by the CoSW, McDonald’s, Chick Fil-A Five Points, Brookland Baptist Church, The National Campaign for Black Male Achievement (New York), Connections to Success (St. Louis), Central Carolina Community Foundation, IBM, Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, and Patterson’s own Global Partners for Fathers and Families. The conference boasts a wide variety of learning opportunities for men and boys of color, in addition to sessions tailored to single parents and moms. Attendees can choose from sessions on topics like leadership, fatherhood, money management, and effective writing. All participants will hear a keynote address from Marcus Lattimore, former Gamecock running back and local philanthropist, and the conference will end with a town hall-style conversation featuring Mayor Steve Benjamin and other local leaders.

Registration for the conference is open until August 28 on the website. There are also sponsorship opportunities available, including scholarships for young people who would otherwise be unable to attend.

Patterson values his time working for agencies but believes his shift to business owner is every bit as important. He says “my heart has led most of what I’ve done,” and he still has things he wants to accomplish. He wants to “take what I’ve learned and do what I’ve been called to do, which is connect families,” proving that social work can take many forms.


The College of Social Work (CoSW) is pleased to announce that Dr. Christina Andrews' project entitled “Addiction Treatment Medicaid Health Home” recently received funding for a distinguished Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (called a "K01"), funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The purpose of the K01 award is to provide support and “protected time” (three, four, or five years) for an intensive, supervised career development experience in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences leading to research independence. For the next five years, Dr. Andrews will assess the impact of health homes on enrollment of eligible Medicaid beneficiaries who need addiction treatment, as well as the use and costs of addiction treatment and acute care for addiction-related conditions.

The Co-PIs for the project are John Brooks and Dr. Janice Probst, both from UofSC Health Services Policy and Management.

The UofSC has been awarded a total of seven K01 awards, and the CoSW has received two of these prestigious awards. Dr. Nikki Wooten also currently has a K01 award for a project entitled “Behavioral Health Care in Army Warrior Transition Units.”


20150814 092018The College of Social Work continues to grow, and we finally have a building that can accommodate us. Previously, the CoSW was scattered across campus, separating classrooms from offices and students and faculty from each other. As social work is by necessity a collaborative field, the CoSW was ready for a place to call its own.

The CoSW can now call Hamilton College home. Hamilton was constructed in 1942 as a naval armory and training space and has most recently been used by the Department of Anthropology and the Center for Performance Experiment. The gleaming hardwoods of the armory’s gymnasium floor have been incorporated into the renovations as a reminder of the history of Hamilton. Dean Anna Scheyett finds it especially meaningful that officers training during World War II were “stepping on the same floors that now students going into military social work are stepping on,” noting that the renovation plans for Hamilton started taking shape approximately four years ago, right as the CoSW began exploring a new military social work specialization.20150814 092139

Though the upgrades respect the history of the building, Hamilton is otherwise entirely modern. After 17.5 million dollars in renovations, the historic building can now boast computer-equipped classrooms, conference rooms with teleconferencing capacities, faculty offices, and a computer lab.

20150814 092450Over 800 students, once accustomed to traipsing across campus for their classes and faculty office hours, will now have one place to learn and to mingle. A student lounge and a lobby offer spaces for catching up between classes, and students and faculty alike will enjoy a new deck surrounding a tree in the courtyard. The building will be further enhanced by the gift of Graham Arader, who arranged for the donation of Audubon prints, Redouté prints, and Chinese watercolors of flora and fauna to grace Hamilton’s walls. Beautiful design and artwork is important, says Scheyett, as a means of “feeding the spirit of the students and honoring their work.”

20150814 092950Moving into Hamilton College signifies the growing presence of the CoSW on campus and in the community. Scheyett notes that the CoSW’s move is thanks to “university support, increasing national recognition, and donor champions.” In addition to giving CoSW faculty, staff, and students a sense of being valued, the move to Hamilton also gives them a sense of identity. Being housed in one building allows “the ability to communicate and collaborate easily,” says Scheyett, and this will bring everyone together.

20150814 092544All CoSW faculty, staff, students, and alumni are welcome to celebrate the CoSW’s new home at a dedication ceremony on Friday, September 11, at 10:30 a.m. Speakers will include UofSC President Harris Pastides; Board of Trustees member John von Lehe, who has also endowed a scholarship in the CoSW; and alumna Carla Damron, current Executive Director of the South Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. The dedication ceremony will be followed by light refreshments and student-led tours. Guests can RSVP to the dedication ceremony here. We hope to see you there!



Field education is a signature component of social work education. The CoSW Field Education Office works diligently to prepare students for their work in agencies and other field settings, emphasizing professional skills such as interviewing, professional presentation of self, and outreach to potential agencies or employers. The Office recently created videos to help students with interviews for field placements. The videos cover everything from making initial contact with a field agency, interview preparedness, and dress code, to appropriate self-disclosure and answering behavioral questions. Videos are available for view below:

Calling a Prospective Field Organization (3.5 minutes) – staring Allison Crossley, David Firman, Steven Nicolson and Leanna Portera
MSW Intern Interview (8 minutes) – staring Allison Crossley as the MSW student and Jennifer Bosio-McArdle as the Intern Coordinator


The University of South Carolina’s College of Social Work announced today that four students were selected to be the 2015-2016 Social Work HEALS scholars (Healthcare Education and Leadership Scholars). The winners - Bri Hastie, Rosland Powell, Eric Clark and T. Brooke Beckwith - were awarded a combined $16,000 stipend to further their studies in social work.

Social Work HEALS, funded by the The New York Community Trust, aims to educate and train social workers from the B.S.W. to postdoctoral levels of social work to strengthen the delivery of health care services in the United States.

By developing the next generation of health care social work leaders and preparing them to lead efforts to address system-level changes, Social Work HEALS scholars will have heightened awareness of prevention and wellness and will learn how to address issues of structural racism that are embedded in social institutions.

USC is one of ten universities selected by the National Association of Social Workers Foundation (NASFW) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to receive $20,000 scholarships each year for five years.

USC was able to select 4 students (two baccalaureate and two master’s) to receive Social Work HEALS scholarships. Each recipient was selected for his or her commitment to the field of health social work.

“The four Social Work HEALS scholars selected were in good academic standing, interested in pursuing health social work as a career, committed to completing health-related coursework and professional development activities during their fellowship year and completing their field placement 2015-2016 in a health setting,” Dr. Teri Browne, co-director of USC’s Interprofessional Education for Health Sciences, said.

The four students will receive a $5,500 total. $4,000 of that amount will be applied to their yearly scholarship fund, while the other $1,500 will be given for travel support to attend the policy and education event in Washington, D.C. with the nation’s other Social Work HEALS scholars.


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