Spring 2022 Social Work Newsletter

In This Issue

Congratulations, Graduates!

We want to congratulate all of our BSW and MSW 2022 graduates! Your work and dedication has lead you to this time of celebration and we look forward to seeing how you ignite change in your communities as you embark on your social work careers!

Upcoming Events

Professor Highlight June, 2022: Estella C. Williamson, DSW

Title: The Critical Link-How Theory Informs Clinical Practice in Work with Black Women

Date: June 29, 2022

Location: Zoom (please register to receive the event Zoom link)

Time: 12:30-1:20 (PST)


Dr. Estella C. Willliamson, who serves as the Social Work Field Director and teaches in the MSW program, will discuss her research on the sexual and mental health of Black women through the theoretical frameworks of Black Feminism and Relational Cultural Theory. Dr. Williamson will share how theory has informed her treatment of women of color experiencing mood disorders. Her presentation will conclude with an examination of how the intersection of theory and practice provide context for anti-racist practices throughout the field education curriculum.

Professor Highlight July, 2022: Meg Cristofalo, PhD, LICSW

Join us for another professor highlight with Dr. Meg Cristofalo coming in July! 

Date: July 19, 2022

Time: TBD

More details to come. 


Student Highlight, BSW: Nikki Do

Student posing for headshot

Are you involved in any on campus groups, clubs, or activities?  

I am the BSW Student Representative on the Department of Social Work’s Community Advisory Council. The council is composed of representatives from community-based agencies who advise our MSW and BSW Programs as well as BSW, MSW, and Field Directors. I represent the BSW student body and share insights about my experiences, role, and responsibilities as well as any student body concerns. I am also a part of the Center for Community Engagement as a Bailey Gatzert Lead Core Member. In this role, I lead a team of 4 Seattle University Core Members in implementing and delivering Extended Learning Program curriculum for one elementary grade cohort. I create and maintain genuine connections with these scholars in order to become a safe, reliable role model for them.  

Have you gotten any awards or scholarships?    

The scholarships that I have been awarded are the Bellarmine, Seattle U Bound, and the Washington State College Bound Scholarship. The Bellarmine Scholarship (up to $20,000) is a merit-based award that is given to incoming first years and renewable for up to four years. I was also awarded the Seattle U Bound and Washington State College Bound Scholarship which covers full tuition for four years for first year students. These scholarships allowed me, a first generation college student, to pursue higher education and open new opportunities for my family and I.  

What inspired you to go into social work? 

My motivations to pursue social work as a career have been influenced by the community-centered values instilled in me by my parents. In my home, my parents modeled collectivism and established support systems beyond our immediate family. They sought to create and maintain genuine relationships with everyone that they encountered. The power of human relations was exemplified in my eyes from the smiles that would appear alongside conversations that emerged when we ran into community members. This inspired me to seek and build my own community rooted in mutual aid and care. My parents, culture, and intersecting identities revived the living memory of past generations and their resilience, which was only made possible by collective interdependence. This became the catalyst for what I see as my life-long journey to advocate, connect, and empower individuals and communities.  

What are your plans for after graduation? or what do you hope to do within social work after graduation? (no pressure, this can be vague if you're still figuring that out) 

After graduation, I plan on taking a gap year and gaining experience in the field. I hope to work with various populations in order to better understand my interests in social services. In the gap year, I plan on taking time to reflect, grow, and learn about myself as a practitioner, but also as an individual. Afterward, I plan on resuming my studies and pursuing a Master of Social Work at Seattle University. With my MSW, I hope to offer free low cost therapy to BIPOC children, individuals, and families.  

What is your practicum this year, what is your job there, and with what population? 

My practicum placement is at Lifelong Aids Alliance. Lifelong is a non-profit organization that provides care services to those living with HIV/AIDS and does advocacy for HIV-related legal issues in Washington. Lifelong provides housing and home chores, food and nutrition services, insurance continuation, transportation, case management, dental services, and emergency financial assistance. My roles and responsibilities at Lifelong include completing intakes to determine eligibility, assisting clients in their individualized service plans, providing referrals and resources, and outreaching clients for monthly wellness check-ins. I am also working on a mental health project with other medical case managers. Lifelong does not presently have a clinical arm and a lot of our clients suffer from various mental health conditions and are often left without support. Thus, the purpose and goal of this project is to provide clients with reliable referrals to mental health providers that align with their needs.  

Do you volunteer or do any social work activities outside of school? 

I am a Health Educator at Cancer Pathways, a non-profit organization that helps those who have been impacted by cancer by presenting cancer prevention curriculum, Cancer Happens to schools across Washington in Snohomish, Pierce, and King County. In this role, I facilitate safe spaces for youth to share their experiences with cancer in group and individual sessions as well as empower them with knowledge.  

What has been the most rewarding or exciting part of your time in the BSW program?  

The most rewarding part of my time in the BSW program was growing and learning with my cohort as well as other BSW cohorts. Through a challenging curriculum, I was given the opportunity to grow my mindset and learn how to persevere through challenges. I also created relationships with other like-minded people and formed bonds that grew beyond my imagination. I have a community to rely upon even after graduation which I am fortunate to have.  

The most exciting part in the BSW program would have to be my senior year. I am finally able to put the theories I learned in Social Work courses into practice. I get to interact with clients, build relationships with them, and give them the resources that they need. Every client interaction solidifies why I chose to pursue a social work degree.  

What would you like other incoming or current BSW student’s to know about your experience? 

Being a first generation college student at Seattle University has not been the easiest, especially as a woman of color. I have experienced first-hand how our systems exclude and prevent BIPOC students from succeeding in academia. Through my lived experiences and countless others before me, it became pertinent that I continue to fight to dismantle these oppressive systems for a fair and just world for future generations.  

Student Highlight, MSW: Sydney Benton

Student in a red graduation gown and white stole sitting on a bench

Where did you get your undergraduate degree and what was it in?

I received my undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in social services from Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA. The more I began exploring career paths after receiving my psychology degree, the more I realized that I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in Social Work and move away from psychology.

What inspired you to go into social work?

As I neared graduation from my undergraduate program, I recognized that I had a much greater passion for my minor in social services than my major in psychology. Social work utilizes a more systemic and communal lens to view societal issues, which is much more in alignment with my personal view of the world. I also appreciate social work’s commitment to challenge current ideology at multiple levels (micro, mezzo, and macro) and felt as though this field would allow me the most room to explore all the areas that I am passionate about.

What are your plans for after graduation? or what do you hope to do within social work after graduation? 

Post-graduation, I will be continuing to work towards dual licensure as I have begun the journey of getting my Substance Use Disorder Professional (SUDP) license this year. There are so many areas within social work that I would like to explore, and I currently feel overwhelmed by all the options. 

What is your practicum this year, what is your job there, and with what population?

This year my practicum is at Therapeutic Health Services as a Mental Health Intern. I have had the opportunity to be involved in both their Mental Health Program as well as their Substance Use Program. As part of their Mental Health Program, I have served a caseload of diverse adults providing therapy and case management services. As part of their Substance Use Program, I have been assisting with their Pregnant and Parenting Women Program, providing substance use counseling services.

Do you volunteer or do any social work activities outside of school?

I was hired on to my practicum agency from last year, You Grow Girl!, to build out a new substance use program for the female-identifying youth they serve. My current work has centered around developing workshops for the youth to learn useful skills related to mental health and substance use while also serving as a place for them to build community and strengthen their support networks. Through this work I was also connected with For the Culture Counseling Services in Pierce County and have been assisting with their outpatient substance use program. I will also be beginning to support their new partnership with YouthSource which provides alternative academic options and other services for young people struggling with school and/or finding sustainable employment.

What has been the most rewarding or exciting part of your time in the MSW program?

So much! I think the most rewarding part of my time in the program has come from pushing myself to do work outside of my comfort zone. Through doing this I have been offered amazing opportunities that I never thought I would be eligible for. I also never expected to enjoy working with youth but have now found a huge passion in it and cannot wait to continue supporting this population!

Faculty Interview Series: Daniel Gross, MSW, LICSW

Faculty member headshot

In our third part of the faculty interview series, we chat with Daniel Gross, Adjunct Professor in the Social Work Department. 

Professor Gross works at the Seattle VA Mental Health Clinic under the position of clinical mental health social worker at the Intensive Outpatient Program. He also established private practice as a clinical social worker/therapist in 2003. 

At the Seattle VA, Professor Gross' main duties include clinical assessment, facilitation of group therapy, individual therapy case management and family support for veterans, adults and older adults. In private practice he provides individual psychotherapy primarily for LGBTQ clients, adults and older adults. 

When Professor Gross started in the social work field, he worked with adolescents in non-profit settings offering case management/outreach services. He was attracted to social work because of his desire to advocate and help people. 

Professor Gross notes that the most rewarded aspect of this work to him is being able to witness change in his client's lives. The most challenging part of this work is working within the confines of unjust systems. 

To students who are starting out in their social work careers, Professor Gross advises to be clear whether this work is a calling rather than a career. 

Most Recent MSW Student Blog

Check out our most recent MSW Student Blog here

Employment Alerts

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