School of Social Work

No. 28 M.S.W. Program in the U.S.

Jamie Cage, Ph.D., an assistant professor, has won the VCU School of Social Work’s annual Social Justice Award for the second consecutive year.

Jaime Petrasek, director of research administration, has been named winner of the Outstanding Staff Award. She has been at VCU for 15 years, the past seven in social work.

Jamie Cage, assistant professor
Jaime Petrasek, director of research administration

Cage, who has been at VCU since 2017, becomes the School’s second two-time Social Justice Award winner (Elizabeth Cramer, 2011, 2004). Cage is the advisor for the Association of Black Social Workers, a student organization, and has also led the annual Cultural Awareness Day event.

Cage says she would prefer to see the donor-funded award, which dates to the 2000-2001 academic year, repurposed to support a schoolwide social justice initiative. 

“It’s greatly appreciated,” Cage says. “But I’m not someone who thinks of or looks for awards. It’s not something I look to achieve in any aspect of life, but most specifically when it comes to social justice. I don’t think people should get awards for speaking truth and demanding better of themselves and everyone around them. It’s something we should all be doing.”

‘She boldly, respectfully and intentionally uses her voice’
Nominations from her colleagues praised Cage for her dedication to students, work ethic, and speaking out against injustice:

  • “Jamie Cage is extremely deserving of this award. She teaches research each semester and is currently developing an online course, all while on track for tenure. When she is not in the classroom, she is constantly finding ways to give back to the students by serving on committees, tutoring students that are not even in her class in research and mentoring students across each program.

    “She has been known to voice her opinion when there is an injustice or something is not right. That type or courage and honesty is something we all should work to embody every single day and are traits of a leader.”
  • “I have really been challenged to grow personally in how I view social justice by Jamie Cage. Jamie is a huge advocate for students, faculty, staff and individuals who experience racism within the School. She boldly, respectfully and intentionally uses her voice to ensure that injustice is brought to life and challenges everyone to observe their role in issues that are presented and how we can do better. I admire Jamie for her leadership and think she is a very deserving recipient of this award.”

‘Jaime exemplifies all the qualities in this award’
Just as Petrasek says she appreciates the opportunity to call social workers her colleagues, one of her nominators returns the favor, praising her for embodying key social work traits.

“I’m really grateful to work here and to have the opportunity to be around social workers – heroes, truly – without being a social worker myself,” Petrasek says. “And I feel I owe it to the profession and the school to commit to social work values and practices, even if I am only in an administrative role.” 

She acknowledges the morale boost of awards in general, but is keeping her honor in perspective.

“It helps keep the momentum going,” she says. “The faculty letters of support were shared with me, and I felt an immediate shift in my work happiness and productivity. It is so nice to be recognized for things you do well. But I think I am like a lot of people in that I don’t usually take compliments well. It was really nice just to be nominated, and I was absolutely gobsmacked that I received the award – totally shocked. I kind of feel torn because, truly, many other folks deserved the award.”

Excerpts from Petrasek’s nominations praise her skills as a team player and communicator, and her ability to improve performance and metrics despite reductions to the research staff.

  • “As a research and teaching faculty member, I work with Jaime in several capacities. Across all of her various roles and responsibilities, Jaime is reliable, thoughtful, and eager to go the extra mile to help faculty and research staff in any way that she can. She has exemplary interpersonal skills and consistently aims to treat all members of our School community with respect and kindness. One of the things I appreciate most about Jaime is that she works in a way that is consistent with social work values and ethics even though she is not trained as a social worker.”
  • “Jaime is the model of team work. Jaime shows up with excellence and positivity every day! Not only does Jaime do the job well, she communicates her expectations to team members with clarity and grace and then models efficiency, service and professional boundaries. Jaime is responsive and incredibly helpful.”
  • “Jaime has handled her own job responsibilities while also picking up the duties of staff and an associate dean who left over the past couple of years. Impressively, even with the downsizing of the research office, she has been instrumental in maintaining a steady uptick in proposal submission numbers and awarded dollars to the School. … Simply put, Jaime exemplifies all the qualities in this award: ‘exceptional performance, achievement, services and support of day-to-day activities that enhance the School’s image and mission.’ “

Social Justice Award Winners

  • 2020, Jamie Cage
  • 2019, Jamie Cage
  • 2018, Daryl Fraser
  • 2017, Hyojin Im
  • 2016, SSW Black Lives Matter Student and Faculty Collective
  • 2015, Sarah Price
  • 2014, Alex Wagaman
  • 2013, Youngmi Kim
  • 2012, Peter Nguyen
  • 2011, Elizabeth Cramer
  • 2010, Tony Mallon
  • 2007-2008, Aubrey Sclarandis
  • 2006-2007, Elizabeth Hutchison
  • 2005-2006, Jaime Bennett
  • 2004-2005, Robert Peay
  • 2003-2004, Elizabeth Cramer
  • 2002-2003, F. Ellen Netting
  • 2001-2002, Anupama Agrawal
  • 2000-2001, Joyce Beckett
Categories Awards and honors, Community, Education, Faculty and staff
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