Month: May 2023

Group Work Then and Now

Register Now for CE programs nowJoan Letendre, PhD, LCSW
Tues, June 27, 2023
9:30 am – 4:oo pm
In-person: SSW Building, 38 Prospect St, Hartford – Room 113
5 CECs – includes one hour of content on cultural competency

$100 – UConn SSW Alumni & Current Field Instructors
$125 – All Others

The field of social group work has always used groups to bring members together to share common concerns, provide support and mutual aid, solve problems, and learn new skills. Practice today requires clinicians to use group work models to work with differing client populations in a variety of settings. The social isolation and loneliness experienced by many during the pandemic has shown us that people need connection and groups are one way to bring people together. Understanding the needs of the members and the group at differing stages of the group. can help facilitators to intervene in a way that fosters communication and promotes positive interactions.

In this first workshop of the group work series, we will focus on understanding a stage model of group development which includes:

  • planning with careful attention to factors that will influence the group (Why this group? Who will be in the group? What is the purpose? What type of group? What will we do? When will we meet and for how long?)
  • beginning the group with a focus on engagement of members and sharing of goals and development of norms
  • the working stage which focuses on developing cohesions with attention to roles, challenging behaviors and conflict
  • ending and evaluation with a focus on saying good-bye, evaluating gains and generalizing skills to situations outside of the group

Attention to diversity of membership and types of groups will be included as we discuss the stages of group development. We will focus on the challenges and strategies for working with open ended groups which allow members to enter and exit at different times, the use of evidence and skill-based curricula mandated by many agencies to build skills and the use of virtual groups which were developed to provide services during pandemic. Each of these groups has their benefits but challenge practitioners to adapt differing strategies to engage members, provide a safe space and develop a cohesive group.

This seminar will enable you to:

• learn how to adequately plan for a group
• understand the needs of members and the group during each stage of development
• learn and practice the skills that leaders use at each stage to facilitate engagement and positive interactions
• adapt knowledge and skills to facilitate groups that are open ended, use curricula and are facilitated in the virtual environment.
• develop strategies that help members to problem solve group challenges in ways that contribute to interpersonal skill development
• learn how to evaluate both the content and process experience of the group

A Message from Dean Nina R. Heller to the Alumni Community

Dear Alumni,

This year has marked key milestones in the history of UConn School of Social Work. We recently celebrated our 75th anniversary with a special event at the Bond Ballroom in Hartford. I was especially pleased to see so many of our alumni, faculty, staff, both current and emeriti, students, and community partners at our celebration. Our alumni continue to support the School of Social Work in multiple ways – as adjuncts, field instructors, faculty advisors, donors, and social work leaders in Connecticut and beyond. At 8,800 strong, you are the best ambassadors possible for the School of Social Work.

For the last eight years, I have had the privilege of serving as the dean and I stand on the shoulders of the 13 prior Deans, including dean Reimers, Case, Cronin, Whetten, Trecker, Lutz, Germain, Coleman, Green, Humphreys, Abrahamson, Davidson, and Raheim. During these 75 years there have been many changes in social work and social work education. For those of you familiar with professional graduate education, you know that there are dual foci – the preparation of the next generation of professional practitioners, and the generation of new knowledge. While the balance of these two areas of focus have shifted over the course of the decades, I maintain that both are critical and when done right, one should inform and strengthen the other.

Through both, the mission remains: We are rooted in a passion for and commitment to social, racial, and economic justice and the improvement of human well-being, both locally and globally. Through our degree programs, we prepare the next generation of social work practitioners and scholars. Our faculty is committed to the generation and wide dissemination of cutting edge and impactful knowledge, informed by social justice and anti-oppressive lenses, through traditional and innovative research methodologies.

In our 75 years, we have contributed mightily to the field and to the community, and I want to note several important achievements. In nearly eight decades, we have offered the MSW for more than 50 years; dual degree programs; an Advanced Standing Program in the 1990’s; the first and largest public PhD Program since 2002; a social-justice focused, cohort-based, urban BSW Program since 2015; and more recently a DCF cohort program; BSW Spanish Speaking Program with DCF; and Scholars in Aging program. This year we also welcomed Innovations Institute, an interdisciplinary, translational research center, which greatly expands our national footprint.

In addition to internal and various external funding, we have developed and maintained very robust collaborations with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, the Office of Early Childhood, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Public Health – each has a research component and a workforce development program. At our Commencement on May 6, one of our most distinguished alumni and long-term partners, DCF Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes, offered an inspiriting message to graduates. I hope you will take some time to watch the recording.

Finally, I am excited to share that we have successfully completed the search for our 15th dean. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Laura Curran, who will begin in her role on August 11, 2023. Dr. Curran was selected from an exceptionally talented pool of applicants. She joins UConn from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, where she is Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. As Provost Anne D’Alleva stated, Dr. Curran demonstrates a clear understanding of the mission of our School of Social Work, with a commitment to social, racial, and economic justice and the improvement of human well-being, both locally and globally.

As we celebrate the rich heritage of our school and share our hopes for the next 75 years, I invite you to reflect on what the School of Social Work has meant to you, your career, and your life. The University has identified life transformative education as a pillar of our identity. I have long maintained that social work education, is, in fact, life transformative and I hear this over and over again from our alumni. We hope you will continue to stay close to the school, and continue to support the School and our students, as donors, mentors, field advisors, and lifelong friends.

Thank you.

Group Work Series 2023

Illustration of Group Work

Group work education and training is essential to learning the best ways of facilitating diverse groups, but as the complexity of group practice has increased, the opportunities to learn effective ways of facilitation, both in the field and classroom, has decreased.

To address these challenges we have developed 4 workshops to provide a framework for understanding group work and how it is practiced with different populations. Although each session supports work with a specific population, the knowledge and skills learned can be adapted to a variety of groups. Whether you are an experienced group practitioner or new to the practice, we invite you to join us to explore group work in today’s practice world.

Here’s what people are saying:

  • “It was a very informative training, and helpful to reconnect with the fundamentals of group work.”
  • “Facilitator was wonderful – very engaging, professional, and shared so many tips from her vast experience.”
  • “Had a great time. Learned a lot. Felt very comfortable and grounded. Thank you for a great day.”
  • “I came into the training very apprehensive as I have been doing groups for a while. I was very happy to be able to reconnect with the process as well as learn form other awesome practitioners in the field. Just awesome, and thank you.”

Workshops – Register for 1, 2, 3 or all 4 programs. Discount available when registering for more than one workshop or when 3 or more agency staff register.

Group Work with Older Individuals – Imagine the Possibilities – Fri, September 29, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm, 5 CECs
The population of older adults in the USA is growing rapidly. The global pandemic threatened individual and familial economic security, increased social isolation, and negatively affected individual physical and mental health, as well as social well-being. For many older adults this has led to increased anxiety and depression, and ongoing grief due to the loss of loved ones. Group Work provides connection, a space for sharing of experience, and feelings of inclusion in a community of people. Active engagement, very effective when working with older adults, is an important part of this process. Learn more.

Group Work with Children in School Settings – Date TBA
This workshop will emphasize the use of trauma informed practice within small groups and classroom settings. Practitioners will learn specific school-based strategies to encourage the development of connection and mutual aid within the groups.

Group Work Then and Now – Completed
Review of the principles and practices of group work, using a group development model that provides a framework for assessing the needs of the members and group at each stage and the specific leader skills that will promote optimal member participation and group cohesion.

Group Work with Involuntary Clients: Addressing Challenges with the Group and within OurselvesCompleted
It can often feel intimidating and even create dread for a group worker to be tasked with a mandated group. You might wonder, “what if no one wants to be here and what am I going to do with that?” This workshop will focus on how we can shift from an experience of anxiety and dread to a confident approach that engages our curiosity and creativity. Learn more and register for this workshop.

More details coming soon. Questions? Contact

Behavioral Addictions: Treatment Strategies for Clinical Practice

Thomas Broffman, PhD, LICSW, CAADAC, CCS, CEAP
Mon, July 10 and 17, 2023 (2 days)
Register Now for CE programs now
9 am – 12 pm
6 CECs

$120 – UConn SSW Alumni & Current Field Instructors
$150 – All Others

While only one behavioral addiction is officially recognized by DSM-5 (disordered gambling), a second is now a “Condition for Further Study” (Internet Gaming Disorder) and many more are likely to follow in subsequent editions of DSM. This 2 session webinar will focus on the recognition of behavioral addiction through a deeper understanding of the theoretical framework of any addictive disorder. It is likely that counselors in all settings will encounter clients with behavioral addictions, and we should be prepared and willing to address these addictions. Rather than assuming this type of clinical work requires a brand-new set of skills, clinicians need only to add to their previously established skill set to address behavioral addictions. There is a lot of shame around addiction in general and behavioral addictions specifically. Many clients may present with other issues (e.g., depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, relational conflict, low self-esteem) rather than disclose an addiction to sex, gaming, gambling, food, shopping, exercise or another behavior. The “Four C’s” that can help counselors identify behavioral addictions are:

  1. If the behavior is compulsive.
  2. If the individual has lost control over their behavior.
  3. If the behavior continues despite negative consequences.
  4. If the individual experiences cravings or mental preoccupation with the behavior when not engaging

Upon completion, learners will be able to:

  • Demonstrate practical knowledge on behavioral addiction and articulate its activity in terms useful in a clinical setting
  • Describe the effects behavioral addictions
  • Describe the process for diagnosing behavioral addiction and differentiating the symptoms of behavioral addiction from those of other medical or psychiatric disorders
  • Describe the screening tools for various behavioral addictions
  • Explain the various pharmacologic and psychosocial treatments for behavioral addictive disorders and describe the factors that should be considered in selecting a treatment modality to match the needs of a specific patient
  • Describe the precipitants of relapse and current evidence-based practices to prevent and manage relapse


BSW & MSW Scholarship Recipients 2022-2023

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the School of Social Work is able to offer a number of scholarship opportunities to our BSW and MSW students each academic year. These scholarships not only help students meet their financial obligations but also recognize their academic achievements and contributions to the social work profession. Congratulations to our scholarship recipients!

BSW Award

Raymond and Mary Borecki Buck Endowed Scholarship Fund

Mary Borecki Buck is an UConn School of Social Work alumna committed to supporting the education of future generations of social workers. This scholarship, created by Mary and her late husband, Raymond, will provide financial support to a student enrolled in the Bachelor of Social Work program.

BSW student Rachelle Bataille

Rachelle Bataille, Bachelor of Social Work

This scholarship meant a lot to me because this has been one of my most challenging school years. My family and I have struggled financially, affecting my motivation for school. However, when I was notified that I received this scholarship, a little weight lifted off my shoulders and gave me the slightest hope I needed to continue pursuing my social work degree. Because of your donation, I can continue to do what I love: working with marginalized groups like women and children. I also enjoy working with my community in sending aid to countries in crisis. I love doing what I do and want to thank you for helping me in the process of building those visions.

MSW Awards

Albert Brown, Jr. Scholarship Fund

This scholarship is awarded to a student currently conducting their field placement at the UConn Counseling & Mental Health Services.

Shirley Holloway, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

Being in my second field placement at UConn Student Health & Wellness this year has been such an amazing opportunity to learn and develop my skills within the social work field. With aspirations of receiving my LCSW following my degree, the opportunities I was able to have in this placement allow for me to have a better overall understanding of the importance of clinical work. This scholarship opportunity will help cover the costs of the LMSW exam to be able to further my progress toward my end goals. I am so grateful to UConn for the educational experience I was able to gain through the MSW program and look forward to the change I hope to make practicing as a social worker.

Charlotte M. Kinlock Endowment Fund in Social Work

Established by Charlotte M. Kinlock, graduate of the school and adjunct faculty member. This award provides financial assistance to a student in a field placement working on LGBTQIA+ issues and provides financial support to school-sponsored organizations and activities that promote an understanding of LGBTQIA+ issues.

MSW student Victoria Sklepinski

Victoria Sklepinski, Community Organizing concentration

I am a full-time master’s dual degree student studying social work and public health; I also provide full-time care to my elderly father who was recently diagnosed with dementia.This scholarship will not only help remove the financial burden placed on myself and my family, but also relieve me of the financial stress that comes with receiving a degree in higher education. I will be graduating next year and with my degree, I plan to work towards improving health outcomes for older adults, especially individuals experiencing Alzheimer’s and Dementia. In my role as a social work and public health practitioner, I also plan to get involved politically to ensure that our legislatures prioritize the health and well-being of older adults in Connecticut.

Dr. Adelaide Sandler Master of Social Work Student Support Fellowship

Shalamiesha Gilbert, Individuals, Groups and Families concentration

Hello I am Shalamiesha Gilbert, MSW class of 2023. I am proud to be a recipient of the Dr. Adelaide Sandler Student Support Fellowship. As a working mother of two, and full-time student any additional support is greatly appreciated by my family. I am excited to join the ranks of Dr. Adelaide Sandler and other great women in Social Work.

Dr. Albert Alissi School of Social Work Scholarship Fund

This scholarship was established in memory of Dr. Albert S. Alissi, faculty emeritus, to provide financial assistance to a student conducting group work practice.

MSW student Deborah London

Deborah London, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

The Dr. Albert Alissi School of Social Work Scholarship Fund will ease some financial burdens in the remaining months of my degree program. My professional goals are to obtain my LMSW and LCSW while continuing to support marginalized communities. I am completing my field education at Natchaug Hospital in an outpatient program for older adults experiencing mental health and co-occurring substance use disorders. I aim to continue my work with older adults, as the need for support for this population will increase significantly in the upcoming years. I am grateful to be part of the UConn School of Social Work community and to have the opportunity to collaborate with brilliant academic minds and support other MSW students.

Donna Millette-Fridge Scholarship

This scholarship was established in memory of Donna Millette-Fridge by the School of Social Work in recognition of her commitment to helping the mentally ill become self-sufficient.

Michaela Blumetti BSW

This support means a great deal to my family. It will reduce some of our financial burden giving us all peace of mind as I continue to proceed with my educational dreams. However it means more than just money, and it has given me the confidence that I need to strive to make an impact on society in my future endeavors. I selected social work because growing up in an environment where I was taught to put the needs of others before my own has led to my strong desire to advocate for change and making a difference in my community. My future plans include advocating for restorative justice within the juvenile justice system so my social work education will help me with these endeavors.

Esther R. Pahl Fellowship for Social Work Excellence

Esther Pahl is a 1952 graduate of the School of Social Work. She credits her UConn social work education for her long and meaningful career caring for others. She established this scholarship to provide meaningful support to a student in need with an interest in working in a mental health setting.

MSW student Ruth Clark

Ruth Clark, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

I'm beyond grateful to receive this gift, as it will help with my student loan debt and give me some breathing room around finances as I finish my graduate degree. Going back to school in my thirties was not an easy decision, and taking on more loans while still having some undergrad loans to pay off was scary! Since my program requires not only a full-time courseload but also a 20-hour/week internship, my ability to work outside of school has been limited. This award will let me pay off some of my loans early and help me make ends meet as I move toward graduating and beginning my social work career. I hope I can return the favor someday.

Allison Villeda, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

As a recipient of this award I now have the opportunity to pursue my master’s degree at UConn. I selected this area of study because as a Latina, I want to help be the voice of other Latinos/as who are afraid to speak up when it comes to advocating for themselves. During my time at UConn, learning how to work with different groups of people and learning different interventions will help me expand my knowledge even further after graduation. I intern at a clinic at the Community Health Center, and from the knowledge of the courses I’ve taken and my internship I hope to one day own my own practice because it will not only challenge me professionally, but hopefully provide positive services to my community.

Frank V. Carollo Scholarship Fund

Mr. Frank Carollo was a 1953 graduate of the UConn School of Social Work who worked part-time while attaining his education. He established this scholarship to assist students who find it necessary to work to supplement their living expenses while attending school.

MSW student Ariana Brasman

Ariana Brasman, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

I want to thank the Frank V. Carollo Scholarship Fund for this generous scholarship. I am beyond grateful to be a recipient of this generous scholarship as it will help me cover the rising cost of living and attending school while I enter my final year of the program. My goal for my final year is to do a clinical internship working with children. My current internship has provided me with so many opportunities to meet with community partners, learn how to use anticipatory empathy, and practice motivational interviewing. When I graduate next May, I believe this program will have prepared me well enough to begin my journey as a future clinical social worker.

MSW student Beck Cyr

Beck Cyr, Policy Practice concentration

This scholarship will have a tremendous impact on me in several ways. It allows me to have additional funds to pay living expenses while I finish school, and put funds aside for relocating to Boston with my longterm partner upon graduation. I will most likely accept a job offer I have received from the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families to serve as a unit specialist, representing several regions and covering half of the state. My previous and future work involves working with some of the most vulnerable members of our society -- that work being with LGBTQIA+ youth, and victims and survivors of domestic violence. Like Frank Carollo, I hope to give back to the UConn community in similar ways in the future.

Sydney De Lannoy, Policy Practice concentration

I am very grateful to be a recipient of the Frank V. Carollo Scholarship Fund. I am pursuing a MSW in Policy Practice because I am passionate about fighting inequity and want to address the everyday challenges that people face on an everyday basis. This scholarship has made the burden of paying for this degree myself a little bit easier, especially in this day and age when just the basic price of living is so high. I am very thankful for this opportunity and am appreciative of how it will help me realize my goals.

MSW student Emory Fairchild

Emory Fairchild, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

This generous award allows me to dedicate more time and care towards my studies and field work to complete my education in the Master of Social Work program. I am a second-year student and expect to graduate in May with a focused area of study in Intersectionality, Human Agency, and Social Justice. I hope to earn my LCSW and work as a clinician in a community mental health setting, working with adolescents and their families. My field placement is with Wellmore Behavioral Health in Waterbury, where I am an Intensive In-home Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services clinician. In this role, I work in the homes and communities of families to provide therapy services to young people at risk of hospitalization or being placed out of the home for psychiatric reasons.

MSW student Jirina Fargeorge

Jirina Fargeorge, Individuals, Groups & Families concentration

I am honored and humbled to have been selected as a recipient of this generous award. Working full-time, completing an internship, and being an active participant in my studies has been both challenging and rewarding. This scholarship has not only provided me with financial assistance but has also given me a sense of encouragement and support. I am excited to pursue my degree concentrating on Individuals, Groups, and Families as it aligns with my long-term career goal of working with children. The opportunity to specialize in this area will enable me to gain the knowledge, skills, and expertise needed to support and advocate for vulnerable children and families in our communities.

Jessica Fico, Individuals, Groups & Families concentration

My area of study is Individuals, Groups, and Families practice. I chose this because I genuinely needed a dedicated social worker growing up. The system overlooked me and failed me. I grew up with two parents struggling with addiction but refused to let it define me, and I want to help other children beat the odds as well. What do I love most about UConn? Well, it’s the first stable thing I can really count on. I have been a student at UConn since 2017 and it has truly changed my life. UConn has given me a place to call home and a community to be part of. It also gave me a chance to bet on my own success and achieve everything a younger version of myself dreamed of.

Storm Fleming, Policy Practice concentration

Lauren Koldras, Individuals, Groups & Families concentration 

I want to express my gratitude for receiving the Frank V. Carollo Scholarship this semester! The balance of my education, internships, and part-time jobs have been difficult, so this scholarship has provided much relief. With this being my last semester, it has allowed me to reflect on the importance of this career path and I am honored to have pursued this degree at UConn. After graduation, I plan to receive my LMSW, and eventually my LCSW. I envision myself working with children and adolescents preferably within the school system. My internships have allowed me to acknowledge this passion and I am thrilled to begin my social work journey. I am very grateful for these opportunities.

MSW student Katherine Mankowski

Katherine Mankowski, Individuals, Groups & Families concentration

As someone who works a part-time job in addition to being a full-time student on the program’s two-year track, I am immensely grateful to be a recipient of the Frank V. Carollo Scholarship. These funds give me the opportunity to put more energy into both my field education as well as my academics. Since beginning the MSW program, I have completed a full policy analysis of the Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (H.R. 485), submitted a written public hearing testimony on the raised bill An Act Appropriating Funds for Certain Homelessness Response Programs (H.B. 6554), created a training program for my field placement to educate staff on the topic of elder abuse, and worked daily with individual clients to help improve their housing-related struggles.

MSW student Audra Panciera

Audra Panciera, Community Organizing concentration

Financial stressors are one of the most challenging aspects of balancing work, field, and classes. This scholarship greatly helps to alleviate that stress. I chose social work and community organizing because it is an extremely versatile field committed to social justice. This program has helped give me tools to work toward systemic change, build collective power within my community, and maintain meaningful connections. This past year in my field placement with End Hunger CT!, I have had the opportunity to restart the Connecticut Alliance for Basic Human Needs, as well as support the Schools Meals for All CT campaign. I am looking forward to graduating and continuing to work in the food justice space.

MSW student Sandy Sawwan

Sandy Sawwan, Public Policy concentration

I am a joint degree student between here and Western New England School of Law. I have struggled significantly with the demands of both programs and this award means so much more than any words can convey. My current internship with the Federal Defender's office has allowed me to see firsthand how our criminal [in]justice system affects marginalized communities and how a person-in-environment along with the intergenerational impact of racism in embedded into systems. I hope to be able to make an impact on how social work and law intersect and the importance of using a social work lens in forensic settings to recognize these systems and work towards serving communities deprived of equity and equality.

Kelly Tanner, Individuals, Groups and Families concentration

MSW student Fernando Valenzuela

Fernando Valenzuela, Community Organizing concentration

As a second-generation immigrant, pursuing my personal and professional goals through academia has been a costly endeavor and the funds from this scholarship will greatly improve my economic security, mental well-being, and ability to create academic work that I am proud of. In addition to the financial benefits, this scholarship offers me a sense of pride and validation that did not seem achievable at many points of my life, particularly at the start of my undergraduate academic career almost 14 years ago. My experiences and success as an MSW student at UConn have reaffirmed my goals of pursuing a career in both community organizing and community-based participatory research, and I plan on doing so by applying for PhD programs after graduation.

Dr. Julio Morales Jr. Fellowship Endowment

Established in honor of Dr. Julio Morales Jr., retired professor, Dean of Students, and founder of the Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies Project, the Fellowship provides financial support to an MSW student who demonstrates a commitment to engaging in outreach programs in the Latino community and has, or will have, completed their field education practicum in the Latino community. Preference given to students who are fluent in both English and Spanish.

Lorena Martínez, Policy Practice concentration

I am grateful for receiving Dr. Julio Morales, Jr. Fellowship Endowment. As a student juggling work, school, and personal life, receiving this scholarship will support me in continuing to access education. Furthermore, this scholarship will help me attend my dream field placement at the United Nations in New York City next semester. As a macro social work student focusing on Policy Practice, I seek to impact the Latinx community in the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean, as I have for the last 10 years through my professional career and volunteering opportunities. Acquiring my MSW will help me further the impact on my community.

Ivor J. Echols Endowment Fund

Friends and colleagues of the late Dr. Ivor J. Echols, faculty member and prominent member of the African American community, established this award in her honor on her retirement.

Mykah Knight, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

I am currently following the two-year IGF track and plan to become a licensed clinical therapist that works with individuals, groups, and families who struggle with environmental stress, social justice issues, and chronic PTSD and/or other behavioral health disturbances. Once I received the notification of the award I was truly elated and grateful for the opportunity. I also believe that simply gaining the recognition and receiving this award has boosted my self esteem within this graduate program. Being a young woman of color, solely providing for myself, and coming from a low-income background has really shown me how rare it is for people like myself to thrive in these types of circumstances.

Karen Kellerman and Peter Arakas Fellowship in Social Work

Karen Kellerman and Peter Arakas are both proud graduates of the UConn School of Social Work. They created this scholarship to provide financial support for MSW students.

Joanna Echtenkamp, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

I am currently an Advanced Standing graduate student at the UConn School of Social Work, with a concentration in Individuals, Groups, and Families. My focused area of study is Health and Wellness Across the Lifespan. My passion is to advocate for underserved and monolingual Latinx populations, undocumented individuals, and children involved in the mental health or foster care system. This scholarship will equip me to serve and give back to my community, and eventually become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I am forever grateful for this opportunity, and I plan to use the knowledge I have gained to serve others whole-heartedly with compassion and advocacy in the social work field.

Mary Deane-Scalora Endowment Fund

This scholarship was established in memory of Mary Deane-Scalora, MSW, by her family to provide financial assistance to a master’s level student with demonstrated interest in working with or for the advancement of the poor in a social services agency or educational institution.

Hailie Percy-Campbell

Hailie Percy-Campbell, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

I'm extremely grateful and honored to have been granted the Mary Deane-Scalora Endowment Fund. The additional support will allow me to focus more of my time on my academics instead of worrying about whether I can come up with the finances needed to buy my books and supplies for my classes. This scholarship means a lot to me because it makes me feel heard and that someone other than myself has seen my potential for success as a social worker and is willing to help support such a journey. I strive to become a social worker who can help underprivileged and underserved communities to be supplied with the resources and opportunities needed to thrive and reach their full potential.

Mary Porter Wright and John Wright Fellowship in Social Work

Mary Porter Wright is an alumna from UConn School of Social Work.

Krista Sansone, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

I have spent the last two years pursuing my Master of Social Work degree with a focus in Individuals, Groups, and Families. This scholarship will help with the transition between life as a student and finally getting my LMSW! I am currently completing my field education at the Community Health Center in Meriden. I am interning as a behavioral health therapist doing individual and group therapy. I have really enjoyed the environment and work I do there. I intend to continue working for organizations and agencies that advocate for accessible health care. My passion is healthcare accessibility, especially in marginalized communities, and I plan to continue to advocate for this issue through both macro and micro social work.

Mary Ellen and John D. Killeen Master of Social Work Scholarship Fund

Mary Ellen Killeen is a School of Social Work graduate who established this fund to provide financial support for students enrolled in the Master’s of Social Work program.

MSW student Jocelyn Rossito

Jocelyn Rossitto, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

This scholarship means the world to me as it not only relieves some of the financial burden of higher education, but also affirms that I am doing meaningful work that makes a difference. I currently intern at the Department of Correction in the Mental Health Unit providing mental health services to the incarcerated population. I believe that everyone deserves mental health services, especially underserved populations such as those who are incarcerated. I am graduating in May 2023 with my MSW and hope to continue my work with the incarcerated population throughout my career. Throughout the past six years I've spent at UConn earning my bachelor's and master's degrees, I have been given opportunities to grow my skills and develop my passions in a way I never thought possible.

Miriam Silverman Memorial Scholarship

The Miriam Silverman Memorial Scholarship was established in her memory by her husband and friends to provide financial support to students in need.

MSW student Niyah Parkinson

Nyah Parkinson, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

This scholarship means so much to my family and me because I am responsible for paying for my education. I am a first-year Master of Social Work student at UConn. My concentration is Individuals, Groups, and Families. I am interning at Klingberg Family Centers in New Britain, CT. I selected my area of study because I have a passion for helping others and want to get involved in facilitating large-scale systematic changes to our domestic and international policies and institutions. I dream of becoming an International Social Worker and working for the United Nations, particularly the Refugee Agency. As a child of immigrants from Jamaica and Guyana, I understand the importance of diversity, multiculturalism, and giving back to one's community.

Murry Shapiro Endowed Scholarship Fund

Paul Shapiro, a retired assistant attorney general and former Mayor of Mansfield, Connecticut, established the Murry Shapiro Scholarship in memory of his late father, a former member of the Group Work faculty who taught at the School of Social Work.

MSW student Kayla Barglowski

Kayla Barglowski, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

Thank you for your generous gift. It helped ease some of the financial burden I’ve experienced throughout my program. I truly appreciate any help I can get and so appreciate your support of social work education.

Nancy Tarr Berdon Fund

The family of Nancy Tarr Berdon established this award in memory of Tarr Berdon, a noted professional social worker in the New Haven area committed to working with the poor.

MSW student Christine Deschamps

Christine Deschamps, Policy Practice concentration

I am honored to be a recipient of this award; it means so much to me in the pursuit of my education. This opportunity has allowed me to take advantage of programs and conferences as well as purchase books that advance my education and prepare me to enter the world of social work to make a difference. I chose the Policy Practice concentration because I feel it is important to look at programs and policies through a human rights perspective. I truly believe this is how I can make an impact and best serve vulnerable populations. I want to look at global issues and work towards global unity to address those most impacted by social issues, such as those in the global south.

Laurel Mccormack, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

Peter Petrella Fellowship for the School of Social Work

The Peter Petrella fund supports fellowships for incoming or continuing graduate students enrolled full-time in the School of Social Work. Students may be incoming or continuing and must demonstrate academic achievement. Priority will be given to students who demonstrate financial need.

Sarah Gunn, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

I am delighted to be the chosen recipient of this fellowship. It will help me pay for books, tuition, and other school supplies, lessening financial stress for my final year and allowing me to focus entirely on my schoolwork and career path. I have an extensive background of working with at-risk youth, and I look forward to continuing this work through internships and my job at the Boys and Girls Club, an organization I have spent years with, which also helped guide me to my career in social work. My future professional goals are based on those of the club -- helping youth become successful, productive members of society.

Shirley & Howard Dickstein Scholarship Fund

This scholarship was established by Shirley and Howard Dickstein to assist students with their expenses while attending school.

Sarah Abdelrehim, Individuals, Groups & Family Practice concentration

MSW student Raymond Binkowski Jr

Raymond Binkowski Jr, Individuals, Groups, and Families concentration

As a non-traditional student and lifelong learner, the trajectory of my academic experience has been atypical. I am very grateful for the support which will benefit my process not only as a student, but as a parent, a person in long-term recovery, a clinician, a son, a brother, and a mentor. The work that I do is in service of families, specifically with teenagers presenting issues involving trauma, mental health, other behavioral concerns, and substance use. Support for myself and my family in turn helps to support planting seeds in this work in fostering introspection and self-reflection for such youth. This not only serves children and families, but also has helped to instill ongoing development which has helped me to become more informed and better skilled in handling adversity.

Advancing Supervisory Skills in Responding to Children and Families in Crisis

Fri, January 19, 2024
9 am – 12 pm
Instructor: Jennifer Berton, PhD, LICSW, CADC-II

This workshop seeks to help social work supervisors to support staff working with children and families in crisis using various supervision models. Supervisors will learn to guide their staff in assessing the diverse needs, strengths, and limitations of their clients. The workshop will also explore techniques to support staff in ethical practice and effective communication with children, family members and family groups.

Learning Objectives (Supervisory Best Practices):

  1. Support supervisees in understanding and recognizing signs and symptoms of mental illness in children and adolescents
  2. Teach supervisees to comprehensively assess the needs of children and their families in crisis
  3. Engage supervisees in collaborating with inter-professional teams to engage appropriate systems in response to clients’ needs
  4. Guide supervisees in developing effective communication with children and their families
  5. Support supervisees to use culturally informed, ethical, and equitable approaches to working with children and their families
  6. Assist supervisees in navigating complex issues of confidentiality and mandated reporting in service to children and families

Alumni Awards and 75th Anniversary Celebration

On April 29, 2023, the School of Social Work celebrated its 75th Anniversary and the 2nd Annual Alumni Awards. The details and awards winners are described below. Congratulations to our amazing alumni winners!

Alumni Award Winners 2023

Alumni Award Winners 2023

2023 Winners

Charon R. Smalls, CLAS '07, MSW2 '17

Emerging Social Worker Leader

Charon R. Smalls, CLAS '07, MSW2 '17
School Social Worker for CREC at Museum Academy SEARAC

This award honors an alumnus social worker who is at the beginning phase of their career and who has demonstrated outstanding leadership as a developing professional.

Charon Smalls is a native of New Haven, CT and transitioned to the Hartford area in 2012. In 2017, he graduated from UCONN School of Social Work with his MSW.

Charon is currently a school social worker for CREC at Museum Academy in Bloomfield, CT. He is serves in the following organizations:

-       Interval House CT, Board of Directors

-       Achievement First Hartford, Board of Directors

-       Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc, Beta Sigma Lambda chapter, Executive Board as Social Action Chair

-       National Pan-Hellenic Council of Greater Hartford, Executive Board as Chaplain

Charon lives in Bloomfield with his wife, UConn SSW Alumna, Dr. Samantha Smalls, 2 children, Isaiah and Nia, and his fish, Bluey.

Precious Price, MSW ‘16

The Trailblazer Award

Precious Price, MSW ‘16
Executive Director & Lead Organizer of the Middletown Racial Justice Coalition

This award honors social work alumni who have graduated in the last 10 years and who have had significant impact within their profession, contributed to their community, and show promise of continued success.

Precious Price, a Connecticut native, grew up an advocate for youth in foster care by sharing her own experiences within the foster care system. Her passion for advocacy for transforming inequitable systems grew out of this work, and led her to Washington DC, interning for both Senator Chris Murphy and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute where she published and presented policy recommendations around the overmedicating of youth in foster care. Precious holds a master’s in social work with a concentration in community organization from the University of Connecticut. In 2016, Precious began organizing with the North End Action Team which broadened her lens of organizing and advocacy to include racial justice. In 2018, after being featured in Connecticut Magazine’s Top “40 Under 40”, Precious also became the Executive Director & Lead Organizer of the Middletown Racial Justice Coalition. In 2021, following another passion, Precious became a doula and doula advocate, working both with families as well as systems, in order to change childbirth outcomes for Black women in CT. She sits on multiple boards and committees, including the Governor’s Hate Crime Advisory Council, the Black Infinity Collective, and Doulas4CT. 

Joanne Tremblay Jackson, LCSW, ACSW, MPH, MSW ‘88

Outstanding Social Worker Award

Joanne Tremblay Jackson, LCSW, ACSW, MPH, MSW ‘88
Director of Student Support Services at Hartford Public Schools

This award honors alumni whose accomplishments, affiliations, and careers have made an outstanding impact and/or have been recognized within their field relevant to community/society in the present-day.

Joanne Tremblay Jackson, LCSW, ACSW, MPH is the Director of Student Support Services for the Hartford Public Schools. Joanne is an alumnus of the UCONN School of Social Work and most recently completed a master’s in public health at The Bloomberg School of Public Health of Johns Hopkins University. Having grown up in Waterbury in an ethnically divided city as part of a working class family, first generation American and English language learner she learned early the impact of violence, poverty and the power of mentors. A caring adult at an opportune moment can change a life’s course and improve both mental health and open new opportunities changing a life’s trajectory.  The focus of the MPH was related to enhancing the services and opportunities available for Adolescent Mental Health with a focus on the impact of violence. Her work with the Juvenile Justice Policy and Oversight Committee impacted policy and procedure to ensure partial credits become awarded to adolescents in Connecticut who have been impacted by homelessness, and abrupt moves with the Department of Children and Families or the Juvenile Justice System.  Joanne is passionate about growing the social work departments capacity to serve the needs of Hartford students, families and staff.  She has worked tirelessly to enhance the capacity of the social workers through professional development including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Trauma Informed for Schools and Dialectical behavioral Therapy. Joanne has worked collaboratively with community partners and UCONN School of Social Work to enhance service delivery including the training of many interns in the school system.  Most recently her leadership has enhanced the clinical supervision of the over one hundred social workers in Hartford Schools by the addition of Social Work Coaches.

Susan B. Walkama, MSW '89

Lifetime Achievement

Susan B. Walkama, MSW '89
Former President & CEO at Wheeler Clinic

This award honors an alumni social worker who has made significant contributions or developed model programs that have been replicated and has been in the field for at least 25 years.

For over 35 years, Susan has practiced as a clinical and administrative social work leader in the nonprofit sector serving the disabled, children and other vulnerable populations.   As the President and CEO of Wheeler, Susan is credited with significantly expanding services to individuals and families in communities across Connecticut.  Her most significant contributions include transforming Wheeler from a behavioral health provider to a full service, wholistic, integrated healthcare center offering primary care, dental, behavioral health, nutrition and alternative healthcare services.  In addition, Susan promoted the application of evidence-based practice in all types of healthcare, expanded crisis and intensive home-based services to children and families and trained hundreds of healthcare, educators, social workers and clergy in adolescent suicide intervention.  She was appointed to multiple state councils, work groups and task forces and advocated for adequate funding of social and healthcare services at the local, state and federal level.  Susan served on multiple nonprofit and trade association Board of Directors and as Board Chair of the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut.  She has been recognized for her service by the State of Connecticut legislature, universities, local social service organizations and businesses.

Susan proudly holds degrees from Central Connecticut State University in Sociology and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work.

Since her retirement in 2020, she spends time with her two beautiful grandchildren, Mason and Austin, volunteers to help resettle newcomers to this country, serves on the Woman’s Board of Day Kimball Hospital and works on the campaigns of democratic and progressive candidates in Connecticut and nationally.

Dr. Leslie J. Torres-Rodriguez, Ed. D, CLAS '97, MSW'00

Distinguished Alumni Award

Dr. Leslie J. Torres-Rodriguez, Ed. D, CLAS '97, MSW'00 Superintendent at Hartford Public Schools

This award honors an alumni social worker who has made significant contributions or developed model programs that have been replicated and has been in the field for at least 25 years.

Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez is the Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, one of the largest urban
school districts in Connecticut. Raised in Hartford and a product of Hartford Public High School, she has
served as an education leader in Greater Hartford for over two decades.

Prior to her appointment as Superintendent, Dr. Torres-Rodriguez was Acting Superintendent and the
Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Leadership within Hartford Public Schools, where she provided
culturally courageous leadership to support the comprehensive improvement efforts of a network of 11
schools. Dr. Torres-Rodriguez also taught social and behavioral science at Capital Community College and
served students and families at Goodwin Technical High School as a School Social Worker.

Dr. Torres-Rodriguez received a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and a Master of Social Work
from the University of Connecticut, and she earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Central
Connecticut State University.

Most recently, she was the recipient of the 2022 Association of Latino Administrators and
Superintendents (ALAS) Latino Superintendent of the Year Award. She was also the recipient of the 2019
Connecticut Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (CALAS) Award for Educational
Leadership, the 2019 National Brillante Award for Educational Excellence from Prospanica, and she was
featured in “Women of Distinction” by Hartford Magazine in December 2019. She is a fellow of The
Broad Academy, the nation’s most prominent professional-development program for urban
school-system leaders. Dr. Torres-Rodriguez currently serves on the Hartford Promise board, co-chairs
the Mayor’s Cabinet for Young Children in Hartford, and is a member of the Governor’s Workforce
Council. She is a proud resident of Hartford, where she lives with her husband and two sons.