Department of Social Work

  • 4 honored with Provost's Awards for Faculty Excellence

    Sami Raut, Vinoy Thomas, Stacy Moak, and Dawn Taylor Peterson demonstrated extraordinary commitment to engaging undergraduate students in service learning, undergraduate research, education-abroad experiences and team-learning environments.

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  • Mental Leaps

    UAB experts help Alabamians overcome barriers to mental health care
    Story by Gail Allyn Short • Editorial Contributors: Emily Henagan, Tiffany Westry Womack • Illustrations by Rachel Hendrix

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  • Social Work students, faculty, and partners recognized on Social Work Day

    The UAB Department of Social Work celebrated Social Work Month with students and their families, community partners, and faculty members on March 27, 2019.

    The UAB Department of Social Work celebrated Social Work Month with students and their families, community partners, and faculty members on March 27, 2019, at the Hill Student Center Ballroom.

    Wes Akins, Coordinator of Mental Health/Counseling at UAB 1917 Clinic, was the keynote speaker. We recognized the Social Work Outstanding student, Eggleston Scholarship awardee, SSWO officers, students who went to Kenya, graduating BSW and MSW students, adjunct faculty members, field supervisors, service learning community partners, and students who went to D.C. Fly-in, Alabama Conference of Social Work, and Alabama Arise Legislative Day. Twenty-six students were inducted into Phi Alpha Honors Society.

    Pictures of our awardees can be seen below, and more of them can be found on the College of Arts and Sciences Facebook page.

    [widgetkit id="47" name="SOCIAL WORK - SW Month 2019"]

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  • Director of documentary on Kenyan AIDS orphanage speaks to UAB students

    Filmmaker Luke Grigg presented his documentary "Our Children - Twana Twitu” to UAB students in March. The film tells the story of brave women in a remote Kenyan village who stepped up to care for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

    Watch "Our Children - Twana Twitu" on YouTube

    Filmmaker Luke Grigg presented his documentary "Our Children - Twana Twitu" to UAB students in March. The film tells the story of brave women in the remote village of Mwingi in northeastern Kenya who stepped up to care for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. When no one else would care for the children due to fear and stigma, the women opened their hearts and held out their hands to take them in. Drawn together in common purpose, they devoted themselves to ending the neglect and misery that are the orphans’ lives, understanding that while poverty can be crippling, it doesn’t have to be. Grigg, along with With My Own 2 Hands Foundation in Laguna Beach, CA, put their story on film. 

    The filmmaker spent the day on campus and gave a class lecture to the Ethnography and Film class taught by Michele Forman. He was on hand for the screening and answered questions from students and community members across a wide range of issues. His talk focused as much on when not to take photos as when to take them. He detailed his philosophy of not taking the camera out of the bag on the first day in a place, and, instead, building a sense of friendship with community members. He also discussed his efforts to provide photos to community members who have never had their photographs taken by bringing a portable printer and taking family photos at no charge for those who want them.

    The documentary has been nominated for a Webby Award. The screening and lecture were hosted by the Department of Social Work in collaboration with the Institute for Human Rights, the Department of Anthropology, the UAB Office of Service Learning, and the Media Studies Program.

    [widgetkit id="46" name="SOCIAL WORK - Our Children Twana Twitu"]

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  • Student trip to Kenya focuses on health, girl's empowerment in the Maasai community

    Over spring break, Stacy Moak, Ph.D., from the Department of Social Work and Tina Reuter, Ph.D., from the Institute of Human Rights led a study abroad trip to Kenya.

    Interested in supporting projects that keep Kenyan girls in school? Donate to the Lady Pad project, sponsored by the UAB Institute for Human Rights and the College of Arts and Sciences.Over spring break, Stacy Moak, Ph.D., from the Department of Social Work and Tina Reuter, Ph.D., from the Institute of Human Rights led a study abroad trip to Kenya. This is the second year that Social Work has offered this special topics course for students.

    The course is geared toward understanding women's rights, HIV awareness, and health issues in Kenya with particular attention to the Maasai community. Students focused on four specific projects:

    1. HIV awareness, prevention, and intervention;
    2. girl's empowerment;
    3. trauma informed care for social workers; and
    4. menstrual health management for adolescent girls.

    These focus areas were developed in collaboration with partners abroad, specifically Nashulai Conservancy and CARA rescue center for girls. A grant from the Independent Presbyterian Church Foundation provided resources to donate more than 800 pieces of underwear, 20 yards of fabric and sewing essentials, and a sewing machine to the project. Social Work plans to continue to develop international efforts that provide exciting opportunities for students.

    [widgetkit id="45" name="SOCIAL WORK - Kenya 2019"]

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  • Students attend the NASW-Alabama chapter’s Advocacy Day

    Seven undergraduate and graduate students attended the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Alabama Chapter’s Advocacy Day in Montgomery.

    Seven undergraduate and graduate students — Evelyn Nichols, Kelsey Allison, Joshua Sewell, Whitney Zeigler, Ashlee Lawler, Laura Sanders, and Joseph Abua — attended the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Alabama Chapter’s Advocacy Day in Montgomery on April 11, 2019. They learned about advocating for policy change with elected officials.

    Students also had the opportunity to listen to the keynote speaker, Mildred "Mit" C. Joyner who is a Professor Emerita of Social Work at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She was named an NASW Pioneer in 2011.

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  • Students learn about career opportunities at third annual Social Work Career Day

    The Department of Social Work and the UAB Career Center joined together to host the Third Annual Social Work Career Day at the Hill Student Center on March 5, 2019.

    The UAB Department of Social Work and UAB Career Center joined together to host the Third Annual Social Work Career Day at the Hill Student Center on March 5, 2019. Students learned about various employment and career opportunities that social work offers, made connections, and met potential field agencies and future employers.

    Thirty-one agencies and about 70 students participated in and benefited from the event. The participating agencies were:

    • Alabama Clinical Schools
    • Alabama Department of Public Health
    • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham
    • Birmingham AIDS Outreach
    • Birmingham City Schools
    • Children's Aid Society
    • Chilton Shelby Mental Health
    • CJFS
    • Family Court of Jefferson County
    • Fellowship house
    • Gateway
    • GLENWOOD
    • Guideway Care
    • Home Instead Senior Care
    • Impact America
    • Jefferson County Public Defender's Office
    • Jessie's Place
    • Lifeline Children's Services
    • Mountain Lakes Behavioral Healthcare
    • OASIS
    • Peace Corps
    • State of Alabama Department of Human Resources
    • The Bell Center
    • The Learning Tree
    • UAB Medical West
    • UAB Obstetrics/Gynecology - Maternity Services
    • United Way of Central Alabama, Inc.
    • US Army Health Care Recruiting
    • Veteran Infrastructure Products
    • VIVA Health
    • YMCA Camp Cosby

    You can see some images from the event below, and more on the UAB College of Arts and Sciences Facebook page!

    [widgetkit id="43" name="SOCIAL WORK - 3rd Annual Social Work Career Day (2019)"]

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  • The College Honors 2018 Alumni Award Recipients at Annual Reception

    The College of Arts and Sciences recognized three notable alumni at the annual Scholarship and Awards Luncheon on March 21, 2019. Our 2018 honorees were recognized for their diverse talents, professional accomplishments, and community service.

    The College of Arts and Sciences recognized three notable alumni at the annual Scholarship and Awards Luncheon on March 21, 2019. Our 2018 honorees were recognized for their diverse talents, professional accomplishments, and community service. Congratulations to our three deserving winners!

    Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award

    David Brasfield, B.S. in Computer Science, 1984

    This is the College’s highest honor, and is awarded to prominent alumni who have achieved distinction through exceptional contribution to their professions. This award highlights the diverse talents, notable accomplishments and extraordinary service of our alumni and is reserved for those with a history of excellence in their careers.

    David Brasfield is the current founder and CEO of NXTsoft.com. Over the last 30 years, he has demonstrated a track record of success in creating and developing several technology companies from inception through to successful exit.

    David has successfully developed and implemented strategies for sales, marketing and software product development. He is the founder and former CEO of Tri-Novus Capital, LLC, SBS Corporation, SBS Data Services, Inc., Brasfield Technology, LLC and Brasfield Data Services, LLC, all of which were providers of automation technology solutions for community financial institutions. He has been a director of a community bank and is currently a member of other boards in the Birmingham area, including our Department of Computer Science Advisory Board.

    Distinguished Young Alumni Award

    Ashley M. Jones, B.A. in English, 2012, UAB; M.F.A. in poetry, Florida International University

    This award honors alumni age 40 or younger for significant accomplishments in industry and/or their career field or for service in the College.

    Ashley M. Jones is a poet, organizer, and educator from Birmingham, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from UAB and an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University. She is the author of Magic City Gospel and dark / / thing. Her poetry has earned local and national awards, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award.

    Her poems and essays appear in or are forthcoming at CNN, The Oxford American, Origins Journal, The Quarry by Split This Rock, Obsidian, and many others. She teaches at UAB and at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and she is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival here in Birmingham.

    Alumni Service Award

    Isabel Rubio, B.A. in History, 1987, Southern Mississippi University; B.S. in Social Work, 1993, UAB

    This award honors alumni who have demonstrated extraordinary service to the local, national, or global community.

    Isabel Rubio was born in Mississippi and is a second-generation Mexican-American. After graduating from UAB, she went to work in the social work field in the greater Birmingham area. After eight years, she founded the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (¡HICA!) in 1999, where she has served as Executive Director since 2001.

    ¡HICA! is a nonprofit organization that educates and empowers Alabama’s Hispanic community through its educational, leadership, community development, and advocacy work. ¡HICA! has engaged thousands of Hispanics across Alabama to increase opportunities and, as the only Latino-serving organization in Alabama, is a bridge builder with many local, regional and national organizations.

    Isabel is deeply involved in her community and serves on numerous local, statewide, and national boards, including the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Alabama Business Charitable Trust, and the Regions Financial Corporation Diversity Council.

    As a result of her many years of experience, Isabel is now a nationally recognized speaker on the issue of immigrants in the South.

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  • Blazer Kitchen enriches the campus, community and curriculum

    In just two years, the campus food bank has served more than 156,300 meals to students, employees, patients and their families with the help of volunteers, including students from the Department of Social Work learning to apply the principles that guide their profession.

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  • Department of Social Work Students and Faculty attend Alabama Arise’s Legislative Day

    As part of this year’s Social Work Month celebration, four BSW students and Dr. Laurel Hitchcock went to Alabama Arise’s Legislative Day on March 19th in Montgomery, AL to learn more about how to advocate for policy change with elected officials.

    As part of this year’s Social Work Month celebration, four BSW students and Dr. Laurel Hitchcock went to Alabama Arise’s Legislative Day on March 19th in Montgomery, AL to learn more about how to advocate for policy change with elected officials.

    [widgetkit id="42" name="SOCIAL WORK - Legislative Day 2019"]

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  • 8 grants awarded to promote innovative teaching

    The proposals, which support new approaches to instruction and learning in a team environment, reflect the "incredible diversity of creative scholarship" at UAB.

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  • UAB celebrates accreditation of innovative Master of Social Work program

    The UAB Department of Social Work has received accreditation for its innovative Master of Social Work program.

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  • BSW mentor program launches

    The first mentor group includes four students paired with four mentors.

    With the help of Grace Dugger, our Social Work Alumni Society President, we launched our Bachelor of Social Work mentor program.

    Our first cohort includes four mentees and four mentors! Three of the students and two of the mentors were able to come to the first meeting. We had a great time meeting each other while sharing a meal.

    We are very excited to have mentor program and offer our students an opportunity to learn and grow beyond classroom setting.

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  • Faculty save students $1.1 million on course materials

    By creating online assets in Canvas, using rental textbooks or older editions and seeking out free online resources, 17 UAB faculty, powered by AIM grants, have saved students more than $1.1 million on instructional materials.

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  • Spreading hope of a future is the catalyst for one UAB graduate student’s success

    One university changing the world: Caroline Richey receives scholarship in honor of serving others.

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  • Christmas gifts for AIDS Alabama child

    The Student Social Work Organization sponsored a 10-year-old girl who loves Disney princesses.

    This year the Student Social Work Organization sponsored a 10-year-old girl who loves Disney princesses for Christmas through AIDS Alabama. She asked for nail kits, Disney lip gloss kit, Auburn twin bedding, a Visa gift card, and hair products (headbands, bows, and more). SSWO and faculty were able to collect everything she asked for and much more!

    The department thank everyone who participated for their support in making this girl's holiday bright and filled with joy and blessing.

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  • Common threads: The value of interdisciplinary partnerships

    Our university enables faculty to make connections across various disciplines, schools, and centers, and being a part of the College of Arts and Sciences provides my colleagues and me with a broad platform to support this kind of effective interdisciplinary work.

    Our university enables faculty to make connections across various disciplines, schools, and centers, and being a part of the College of Arts and Sciences provides my colleagues and me with a broad platform to support this kind of effective interdisciplinary work. Even in the short time I've been at UAB, I have developed three interdisciplinary courses that have service learning goals and ongoing research endeavors.

    By working with willing faculty members from the Departments of History and Art and Art History, we developed a "Birmingham Neighborhood Studies" course that involves student examination of four specific Birmingham Neighborhoods from a historical perspective, a contemporary perspective, and an artistic perspective. In that course, students complete a project-based final portfolio. Their projects range from architectural histories of places to walking tours of women buried in Oak Hill cemetery.

    This year, in a joint effort between the Departments of Social Work and Criminal Justice, we have enhanced an existing "Community-Based Corrections" course—making it interdisciplinary and including both team-based learning and service learning elements. Students in the course participate in re-entry simulations in which they experience what it is like to be a person returning to the community after a period of incarceration. The U.S. Attorney’s office developed this curriculum and the Department of Social Work has taken a lead role in bringing the simulations to our campus. Last year, we received a Quality Enhancement Plan grant to continue the simulations and to conduct research around their effectiveness. Students also work with women incarcerated at Tutwiler Prison and Birmingham Work Release to produce holiday greeting videos for their families, as well as with Jefferson County Veterans Court to recruit veteran volunteers to support court efforts.

    Last year, I developed a study abroad course that examines women’s rights and health in Kenya. This year, the social work course will be team-taught with Dr. Tina Kempin-Reuter, director of the UAB Institute for Human Rights, and will involve international service learning in which students create health-based lesson plans and assemble reusable feminine hygiene supplies that they deliver in rural Kenya. Since last year’s successful trip with 12 students, we have written a grant to support the continuation of the women’s hygiene project and the addition of a micro-business sewing initiative. All of these efforts will be evaluated through community partners in Kenya.

    The common thread through all of these courses are that they all involve social work principles that advance human rights as well as social, economic, and environmental justice. And they are all led by female faculty and directors from across the College.

    As service learning is considered a high-impact learning tool, these courses are expected to strengthen student learning and engagement in multiple ways outside of the course content. And just as women are leading the efforts to craft these high-impact courses, women are benefitting from them as participants—as student and as community collaborators.

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  • A servant's heart: Social Work alumna Jeanne Welch gives back to UAB

    Jeanne Welch never really saw herself as college material. But a desire to help others, and an interest in mental health technology, helped her find her way to UAB.

    Jeanne Welch never really saw herself as college material.

    Growing up in an Air Force family, she moved a lot growing up. While she learned to be outgoing and adaptable, she never expected to go to college. But a desire to help others, and an interest in mental health technology, helped her find her way to UAB.

    WORK FIRST, THEN SCHOOL

    After graduating from high school, Welch first pursued a general studies degree and completed a year of coursework at a community college. Then she completed some additional mental health training, always with the drive to serve those in need. ”I was interested in helping people achieve their life goals,” she says.

    She was hired as a houseparent with what was then UAB's transitional home for individuals leaving state mental hospitals, a job she says was a good fit.” I was working in my area of interest and my area of education,” she says. ”But I still wasn't thinking about college.”

    But a conversation with a work acquaintance changed her thinking and helped her connect the dots. ”She was a Bachelor of Social Work student at UAB, and she pointed out to me that what I was already doing in my job was social work,” Welch says. ”So I decided to learn more about the program and see if I could strengthen my education and training.”

    A CRITICAL CONVERSATION

    Welch made an appointment with Dr. Norman Eggleston, then-chair of the Department of Social Work, and his advice proved to be transformative.

    ”Originally my idea was a two-year degree,” Welch says, ”but Dr. Eggleston convinced me that a four-year degree would give me more independence and flexibility.”

    Welch had a firm timeline in mind: She had to graduate in the spring of 1980 while still working fulltime. But with the help of Dr. Eggleston and Welch's faculty advisor Dr. Gail Wykle, she was able to find a way. ”I mapped out the whole plan based on what classes were taught in the daytime or at night,” she says.

    With a plan in place and a deadline looming, Welch jumped into her classes with energy and enthusiasm. ”Being able to stop by and meet with faculty after classes was so helpful,” Welch says. ”The investment they made in me was significant and meaningful; they would ask me how things were going, and they wanted to know not just in my classes, but in my job, too.”

    "Knowing that you know how to help someone and how to provide services to them is so rewarding."

    NEXT STEPS

    With Dr. Eggleston's encouragement, Welch once again expanded her educational expectations and decided to apply for graduate school. ”I thought I was done at the four-year degree, but Dr. Eggleston started planting seeds that I could and should continue my education and training,” she says. ”I still have the recommendation letters from Dr. Eggleston, Tom Kemp, and Gail Wykle. They could see the potential in me, even when I didn't see it in myself.”

    With the department fully behind her, Welch applied and was accepted to the graduate social work program at Virginia Commonwealth University. ”It was a one-year advanced-standing program,” she says. ”Most students had to have good grades and work experience. But when I graduated with my BSW, I couldn't [walk at commencement] because I had less than 24 hours to get to graduate school!”

    A MEANINGFUL CAREER

    After graduating in June 1981, Welch started her first job as a social worker. After a year working with developmentally disabled adults, she landed at one of Virginia's Community Services Boards, which provides community mental health therapy to outpatients. ”That was the beginning of a 15-year career with the Service Boards,” Welch says. ”As a licensed clinical social worker, I gained both clinical and administrative experience as we counseled patients dealing with depression, sexual abuse, relationship problems, and more.”

    She admits that while her role was often emotionally and psychologically challenging, she was able to stave off burnout by relying on her training and focusing on the positive outcomes. ”Knowing that you know how to help someone and how to provide services to them is so rewarding,” she says. ”And seeing them progress as a result of your help is so gratifying and satisfying. You know you're making a difference.

    ”You have to know which challenges are worth investing in and which ones to leave alone,” she adds. ”You have to know what you can control. You can focus on what's tough, or you can decide to go into that room with that person and offer the best you have, knowing that this will pass. And it always did.”

    Welch, who just recently retired, spent the last 11 years of her career as a clinical social worker at the Salem VA Medical Center in Salem, Virginia. ”Being raised in an Air Force family, I knew the sacrifices that the veterans and their families had made. That was something I brought to the table. Veterans like being treated by people who can relate to them—they like that feeling of kinship. I felt like my life had come full circle.”

    MAKE A PLANNED GIFT

    Jeanne Welch and Jay Rule endowed their scholarship by way of a planned gift—a very flexible and popular choice for donors. There are many ways to make a planned gift, including legacy gifts (wills, trusts, real estate, and more); gifts that generate income (charitable gift annuities); stock transfers; and other options. To learn more about how you can contribute from your estate, contact:


    Kimberley S. Coppock, J.D.

    Director of Development
    Office of Planned Giving
    kcoppock@uab.edu
    (205) 975-5970

    STILL HELPING OTHERS

    Welch found herself thinking of UAB and Dr. Eggleston when she and her husband Jay Rule, a mechanical engineer, were preparing a will several years ago. ”We were thinking a lot about what has impacted our lives the most, and how to give back. And I immediately thought of UAB.”

    Welch says that her connection to Dr. Eggleston went beyond his academic and professional advice. ”He was the only person I knew in Birmingham who was from Virginia, like I was,” she says. ”And as I learned a little about his life history—how he was raised in foster care and how social workers had such a positive impact on him—it motivated me to continue my social work training.

    ”Dr. Eggleston told me I could achieve anything I put my mind to,” she continues. ”I didn't enroll at UAB with that in my mind, but that gave me that confidence. So when Jay and I were ready to make a gift—and I couldn't do any of this without Jay—I had the opportunity to finish funding the scholarship that had already been established in Dr. Eggleston's name.”

    Welch says in hindsight, she can see how events worked in her favor. “If I hadn't met the social work student, I would've never considered a social work degree,” she says. ”If I hadn't met Dr. Eggleston, I wouldn't have pursued my undergraduate and graduate degrees. And if not for those conversations, I wouldn't be in a position to give back today. I also received some financial assistance when I was a student. I want to do what I can to help today's students discover their own untapped, unrealized potential.”

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  • Health and Hygiene Drive

    The Student Social Work Organization (SSWO) hosted a health and hygiene supplies drive.

    The Student Social Work Organization (SSWO) hosted a health and hygiene supplies drive for a non-profit organization run by our own MSW (former BSW) student, Caroline Richey.

    SSWO collected bars of soap, toothpastes, toothbrushes, rolled gauze, Neosporin, deodorants, medical tapes, and more for DominicanKids.

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  • Homecoming 2018

    The Student Social Work Organization participated in the 2018 Homecoming Parade.

    Go Blazers! The Student Social Work Organization (SSWO) participated in the 2018 Homecoming Parade. Thank you, Joshua, Rebecca, Carly, Ms. Melton, and other SSWO members for being part of this exciting event!

    [widgetkit id="37" name="SOCIAL WORK Homecoming 2018"]

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