March was Social Work Awareness Month, but it only sparked the beginning of a list of social work events here at Kean through the Master of Social Work program in coordination with student government and the Social Work club.
The Master of Social Work Program is designed to grow student social work skills and develop abilities in problem solving for individuals, families, groups, communities, organizations, and social institutions. The program is set up to provide preparation in becoming professional licensed social workers. Social work refers to professions that help individuals throughout communities access services they need.
One of these events to celebrate social work awareness was a trip to Capitol Hill as a part of Social Work Advocacy Day. Kean University Social work students took a trip down to Washington D.C. and met with other social workers from around the country. This day gave students an opportunity as social workers to learn and discuss policy that ranged from immigration policy to sex trafficking. Kean students were also able to meet with their state representatives and watch a bill go forward on the floor. This experience is what they learned in their policy courses and it was beneficial for students to see firsthand what they've been learning.
The Social Work Day at the United Nations event was hosted at Monmouth University. For over 30 years, this annual event has had a national and international attendance. Twenty Kean graduate student social workers attended this event and sat in on multiple lectures that pertained to the theme of the year, environmental sustainability. The theme of Social Work Day at the United Nations is chosen by a prevalent issue of the year, with previous themes being personal worth of people and social economic equality.
Also a part of social work awareness, former Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake came to give a lecture to the Kean Social work graduate students about social work policy. In addition to this lecture, Blake was given a plaque to thank her and honor her work for the community.
The school-based social work panel occurred in correlation with social work awareness and the panel was dedicated to discussing gun violence in schools. Led by professor Jarolmen Ph.D., faculty member, facilitator, the panel consisted of Kean Alumni who work in social work, as well as current social workers who supervise the students of the Kean graduate program. This panel discussed how to handle gun violence issues in a practical and professional manner. It took a look at national as well as state policy already in place for gun violence and discussed how these policies came and re-looked at them considering recent gun violence incidences.
In coordination with Union County C.A.R.E.S. (community, action, response, education, safety), Kean's MSW program produced the Fifth Annual Domestic Violence Symposium with attendees ranging from Kean students, Union county prosecutors, police officers, detective units, etc. Nationally acclaimed speaker Jeffrey Bulcholtz spoke at this event with over 250 audience members on violence prevention.
National Association of Social Workers' New Jersey Legislative Education and Advocacy Day (LEAD) was held in Trenton, New Jersey and gathered social work students to learn more about social working legislative and how to rally for causes. This event is annual and hundreds of social work students and professionals come every year. The goal of the event is to get social workers to learn about the current legislative issues affecting social workers and clients, engage in legislative process and experience lobbying and advocating. Professor Jennifer A. Pax MSW, LCSW, Kean lecturer, Social Work Club Advisor, represented Kean University at this event and spoke to a group of students.
With an emphasis on community involvement and social welfare, the Social Work Club of Kean University's purpose is to gather like-minded individuals interested in the the social work profession and work to enhance and develop their skills in the profession. The goal of this organization is to serve as a home for interested students and serve as a voice for the students within the interest of social work.
Phi Alpha is the International Honor Society for social work and it is considered the greatest honor for a social work student. Through all of these events, the induction into this honor society also took place. Students with the required GPA and social work requirements were inducted into the society and awarded pins and certificates.
All of these events that occurred during Social Work Awareness month, March, as well as the events that happened throughout the early part of April, all served as valuable experiences and education for the MSW students. These events allowed students to participate in social work on a national and in some cases, international scale. They learned about the policies in place and how to create new ones to better the lives of communities.
"One of the corner stones of our mission as a department is to expand the learning of our students. The mission for social work month nationally is to have students involved in social work expand beyond the classroom. Also it is important for our students, who are adult learners, to have opportunities to integrate their skills and knowledge gained from classroom experience and see them in real life experiences. These events were designed to have students utilize these skills in practical settings," said Dr. Telvis M. Rich MSW, the director of the MSW program.