School of Social Work

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

The VCU School of Social Work is pleased to announce the six recipients of its 2022 Office of Field Education awards.

Outstanding Community Partner Award

Here for the Girls, Melissa Weaver (B.S.W.’99/SW; M.S.W.’06/SW)

Nomination excerpt: Excellent and growing intern program with outstanding focus on client needs. Provide interns with opportunities, inspiration and support. 

Criteria: An agency or organization that should be recognized for providing exceptional field education opportunities for our students through targeted community impact. 

Amy Rosenblum Award

Helen Rai (B.S.W.’16/SW; M.S.W.’17/SW), ReEstablish Richmond and Circles RVA

Nomination excerpts: Helen created a space for learning that was inviting, free of judgment and supportive. Teaching lessons outside of the social work classroom that translate into the real world: self advocacy, boundary setting, empowerment and so much more. She is very deserving for creating a space worth processing.

Helen has done a wonderful job finding the balance in showing understanding and exemplifying professionalism as a social worker in the field. She has interpersonal skills along with organizational and management skills. Helen has created healthy boundaries as a social worker, which I appreciate and will adopt when I become a social worker. Helen brings positive energy to agency meetings, has valuable suggestions for staff members, and asks great questions that exemplify that she truly cares and is listening. Helen is such a valuable asset to the ReEstablish Richmond team and it has been inspiring seeing so many others look up to her because of her holistic, well-rounded approach to providing services. I was very lucky to have a field placement at ReEstablish Richmond with such wonderful people who embody authenticity and compassion.

Criteria: A field instructor with at least five years of service in the role, excellence in teaching/supervision of students, and ongoing collaboration with the School of Social Work.

Outstanding Field Instructor Award

Kay Carbaugh, Harrisonburg City Public Schools

Nomination excerpts: Kay is the best school social worker I have ever known. I have learned so much from her as she has done an excellent job in sharing her over 15 years of clinical expertise with me. She is definitely a motivation for me. Because English is not my first language, I have experienced lack of cultural competency from many professionals. Kay is NOT one of them. She is extremely culturally competent not only with me but with the diverse community which includes the staff and families we have at HCPS and she deserves so much more than this award. I have been thinking lately how to show her my gratitude and she has said to me to “never forget why” I “decided to become a social worker” as the responsibilities of our profession can be overwhelming but “we should never forget that we are here to help others.” She is very kind to me and other minority families and staff, which is not something that is common in the Shenandoah Valley. She has used her white privileges to advocate for all minorities and she has not allowed anyone to disrespect me. On the contrary, she has helped them see my strengths and she has always believed I can do everything even when I have not believed I can.

Kay’s office is an oasis for me and other people from the HCPS staff. Having her as my supervisor has helped me take care of my mental health. Even when she has said something to correct me, I know her intentions are always to help me develop my abilities to the best. I hope you consider her for any of these awards.

Criteria: A field instructor who should be recognized for exceptional field education.

Outstanding New Field Instructor Award

Christina Cappelletti, The DC Center for the LGBT Community

Nomination excerpts: Christina demonstrated excellence in every facet of serving as a field instructor to myself, an online M.S.W student, during my generalist field placement at The DC Center for the LGBT Community in the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters. She provided me with supervision that was patient, compassionate and full of lessons that enabled me to truly engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research. Christina met me where I was, and supported me in engaging in meaningful social work practice at the micro, mezzo and macro levels. Additionally, Christina not only modeled an exemplary commitment to the NASW values of social justice, unconditional positive regard, competence, integrity and service, but also demonstrated the deep importance of self-care to this soon-to-be social work practitioner. My life will be forever changed by this field placement supervisor, and I know that will count Christina among my dearest mentors in this field for many years to come.

Recipient remarks: I’m very pleased to be chosen as the 2022 recipient of the Outstanding New Field Instructor Award! Brittany Zeman and I had a wonderful journey together, and I’m touched that she felt inspired to nominate me. Having supervised graduate social work students at other positions with other schools in my life, I can recognize that part of what made this experience go so genuinely well was the excellent logistical administration offered by the VCU School of Social Work Office of Field Education and the Tevera technology. For the same reasons I can also most especially recognize that Brittany herself was the key to the experience. She is the kind of student and person – kind, determined, intelligent, spirited, observant, compassionate, honest and willing – that not only made supervision a joy, but who I truly wish were a colleague! I’d hire her in an instant. Thank you for the opportunity of working with her, and for this lovely honor!

Criteria: A field instructor new to the role (within one to two years) this academic year who should be recognized for exceptional field education. 

Outstanding Task Supervisor Award 

Jessica Smith, Radiance Counseling 

Nomination excerpt: Jessica was an excellent task supervisor. I was able to learn about and practice holistic mental health care that takes in mind the biopsychosocial-spiritual aspects of each person. Jessica allowed me to show up as my full self and empowered me to be the best social worker I can be by helping me recognize my strengths as well as areas for growth. My meetings with Jessica were very real, honest, and at times uncomfortable in the best possible way because they challenged me to grow, learn and unlearn in order to show up fully and authentically for myself and my clients. She didn’t just tell me what I wanted to hear and give me praise, instead she challenged me to grow and pushed me past my comfort zone in order to be all that I can be. She gave me intentional time and made me feel like a priority. I felt truly seen and heard by her. All that she gave to me is what I’ve learned now to give to my clients. People want to feel seen, heard and unconditionally valued and cared for. This is what Jessica gave to me and what I now give back to the people I serve.

Criteria: A task supervisor who should be recognized for exceptional support to field education. 

Liaison of the Year Award 

Hector Cendejas 

Nomination excerpts: Professor Cendejas goes above and beyond for his students and is always willing to advocate for their educational experience. He is generous, accepting of feedback and prioritizes strong communication. I have been so lucky to have his support and guidance over the last year. You can tell that he is truly passionate about social work and the students that he works with. I have learned so much from him and appreciate his work ethic.

Sharing experiences with other cohorts in the online M.S.W. Program has been a critical component of the learning process. Based on my experience with Professor Cendejas and what others have shared about their field liaisons, I believe that he is an extraordinary professor. He genuinely cares about his students and their development as learners and, ultimately, professional social workers. He strongly encourages participation in synchronous class meetings (I think unique for his class) to answer any questions his students have and encourage his students to share experiences and concerns. Professor Cendejas provides weekly updates and valuable and thorough feedback on all class assignments, pushing us to challenge ourselves to practice our competencies and seek additional learning components of our internships. He is very accessible for open hours meetings and responds to emails quickly.

Criteria: A liaison that has demonstrated exceptional student teaching, agency coordination, and overall support to field education.

Categories Alumni, Awards and honors, Community, Education
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,