Winter 2023 Social Work Newsletter

Winter Quarter Review

Faculty Updates & News

                         Headshot of Dr. May Kay Brennan

Clinical Social Work Professor Dr. Mary Kay Brennan was recently quoted in the article, "An anti-racism examen for Jesuit universities."

NASW-WA Advocacy Day-February 20th, 2023

SU Students attending NASW-WA Advocacy DayOn February 20th, 2023, students and faculty of the Master of Social Work program attended the NASW-WA chapter's Advocacy Day at the state capitol to meet with representatives, advocate for policy related to social-justice focused social work practice, and gain experience lobbying for topics relevant to the WA communities. 

Upcoming Events & Announcements

Coming Soon: Student Resource Guides

The Seattle University MSW program is working to complete extensive resource guides for incoming and current MSW students. Resource guides for scholarships and housing will become available soon!

  • Scholarships: The Seattle University MSW program is pleased to provide incoming students with an extensive resource guide of potential internal and external scholarship options soon. The overview of scholarships provided includes website information and links that students are advised to visit for more complete details. The guide includes internal scholarships, external scholarships, and scholarships that are specific to certain populations. The scholarship guide is also broken down into several categories that include specific scholarships geared towards international students, military veterans, LGBTQIA+, students of color, students with disabilities, women, undocumented students, etc.  
  • Housing: Furthermore, the SU MSW program is also working on a housing guide for incoming MSW students. Many incoming students have questions about housing options in Seattle and we wanted to bulk up the resources we have available to students who are moving from out-of-state or from different cities in WA, or who may be moving closer to campus. These resources include Seattle neighborhood maps, rental rates, reputable rental websites, on-campus housing options, etc.  

Stay tuned for when scholarship & housing resource guides become available!

MSW Program Info Session (Virtual)

MSW Virtual Info Sessions Graphic

March 2023: NASW Social Work Month!

2023 Social Work Month Logo:

Upcoming in March 2023 is National Social Work Month! The NASW's theme for this year is "Social Work Breaks Barriers," because each day, social workers help break down barriers that prevent people from living more fulfilling, enriched lives. This month will serve to celebrate and learn about the ways social workers have historically and continue today to break barriers. View materials from the NASW for Social Work Month, & stay tuned for upcoming social work events & news during March!

Black History Month: Recommended Reading List from SU Social Work Faculty

Black History Month Seattle U social work faculty suggested reading list

To honor the end of Black History Month, SU social work faculty compiled a list of suggested readings related to Black history and social work. 

Download a PDF of the reading list here:

Black History Month: Social Work Faculty Reading List

  • Readings that are open-access (available to anyone to read for free) & readings that are available through SU's library system are labeled on this document for accessibility purposes. You may also view full APA citations for each reading at the end of the document.

Suggested Articles & Essays:

  • How we built the ghettos - Jamelle Bouie
  • The health care system and racial disparities in maternal mortality – Theresa Chalhoub & Kelly Rimar
  • Fighting systemic racism in K-12 education – Roby Chatterji
  • The Black family in the age of mass incarceration –Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The case for reparations – Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Foster care as punishment: The new reality of ‘Jane Crow’ – Stephanie Clifford and Jessica Silver-Greenberg
  • Black sexuality, Indigenous moral panics, and respectability: From Bill Cosby to the down low – Cathy J. Cohen
  • The myth of the two-parent home: New research indicates that access to resources, more than family structure, matters for black kids’ success – Christina Cross
  • In order to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation –

    Matthew Desmond
  • The myth of the “culture of poverty'' – Paul Gorski
  • A 'forgotten history' of how the U.S. government segregated America – Terry Gross
  • Choosing a school for my daughter in a segregated city – Nikole Hannah-Jones
  • Segregation now… – Nikole Hannah-Jones
  • It was never about busing – Nikole Hannah-Jones
  • The black perspective in clinical social work – Stephanie Howard
  • More than half of police killings in USA are unreported and Black Americans are most likely to experience fatal police violence – Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
  • Why doesn’t the United States have universal health care? The answer has everything to do with race. – Jeneen Interlandi
  • Medicare and minority communities: Reflections on 50 years of progress and a vision for the future. – Cara V. James
  • Jane Addams, Ida B. Wells, & racial injustice in America – Stacy Lynn
  • The fight for health care has always been about civil rights – Vann R. Newkirk II
  • Beyond the Access narrative: Marriage politics, austerity, surveillance – Tamara K. Nopper
  • Historical perspectives on social welfare in the Black community – Wilma Peebles-Wilkins
  • Marriage Promotion, reproductive injustice, and the war against poor women of color – Sarah Olson
  • The return of the ring: Welfare reform's marriage cure as the revival of post-bellum control – Angela Onwuachi-Willig
  • Black social workers matter: Using parallel narratives to discuss social work history – Amittia Parker
  • Two outstanding Black women in social welfare history: Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells-Barnett – Wilma Peebles-Wilkins & E. Aracelis Francis
  • Prison, foster care, and the systemic punishment of black mothers – Dorothy E. Roberts
  • Black families matter: How the child welfare system punishes poor families of color – Dorothy Roberts & Lisa Sangoi
  • The welfare family cap: Reproductive rights, control, and poverty justice – D. Romero & M. Agenor
  • Reproductive freedoms and African American women – Charlotte Rutherford
  • Deciding to discipline: Race, choice, and punishment at the frontlines of welfare reform – Sanford F. Schram, Joe Soss, Richard Fording, & Linda Houser
  • Social Work Practice with African Americans in Urban Environments [Review of Social Work Practice with African Americans in Urban Environments] – Jamel Slaughter
  • Slavery gave America a fear of black people and a taste for violent punishment. Both still define our criminal-justice system – Bryan Stevenson

Suggested Books:

  • The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness – Michelle Alexander
  • The Black Power Movement and American social work – Joyce Marie Bell.
  • Captive nation: Black prison organizing in the civil rights era – Dan Berger
  • Why Americans hate welfare: Race, media, and the politics of antipoverty policy – Martin Gilens
  • The color of social policy King E. Davis & Tricia B. Bent-Goodley
  • Black neighbors: Race and the limits of reform in the American settlement house movement, 1890-1945 – Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn
  • A history of America in ten strikes – Erik Loomis
  • An African American and Latinx History of the United States – Paul Ortiz
  • The color of law: A forgotten history of how our government segregated America – Richard Rothstein
  • Shattered bonds: The color of child welfare – Dorothy E. Roberts
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
  • Social welfare policy: Regulation and resistance among people of color – Jerome H. Schiele
  • The color of justice: Race, ethnicity, and crime in America – Samuel Walker, Cassia Spohn, & Miriam DeLone.
  • Inequality in U.S. social policy: A historical analysis – Bryan Warde
  • The Black Child-Savers: Racial Democracy & Juvenile Justice – Geoff K. Ward
  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration – Isabel Wilkerson

Download a PDF of the reading list with full citations and available links here:

Black History Month: Social Work Faculty Reading List

Professor Highlight: Sam Harrell, MSW

Sam Harrell (they/them), MSW, is new this year to Seattle University’s social work department! The Social Work program at Seattle U is excited to feature Sam for a professor highlight in this quarter’s newsletter.

Sam Harrell

         Professor Harrell is currently in their first year as an instructor for Seattle University’s Social Work Department, teaching research courses for MSW students and aiding Dr. Derr in teaching BSW research courses. Sam equally supports their students and provides opportunities for learning—in Research: Methods & Design, Professor Harrell brings tea, snacks, and any other essentials students may need. Sam also plans occasional “Lunch & Learn” events for first-year MSW students on Thursdays, in which students can hear from and ask questions to authors of various social work research articles that are read in class. Attending one of Sam’s classes may feel like attending a workshop—and that is intentional. Sam designs their courses with strong learning objectives, hands-on components, group work and discussion, and with an application piece for students to apply the concepts they’re learning. Sam also values feedback, which they use to drive course structure and assignments to give students a reason to be invested in their own work.

         At 14, Sam decided they wanted to become a social worker, though they cite theory class and socio-ecological theory as reorienting their motivation to become a social worker. Sam was originally dedicated to macro practice, and they have experience with people experiencing homelessness, child welfare, LGBTQ+ youth services, violence prevention, prison and jail re-entry, and crisis intervention. Sam’s previous experiences in social work have guided much of their research inquiry. In November, Sam co-published their article, “The Case for Mandatory Reporting as an Ethical Dilemma for Social Workers,” which presents a content analysis of social work textbooks and proposes that social work education should prepare students to navigate mandatory reporting as an ethical dilemma. Sam noticed a need for mandatory reporting to be framed overtly as an ethical dilemma as they worked in violence prevention, noticing that many youths experiencing familial violence were forced to choose between sharing their experiences or maintaining a sense of control. As a social worker, Sam saw the need for a more nuanced exploration of mandatory reporting and potential alternatives in social work education. Although the NASW Code of Ethics draws a hard line for social workers regarding mandatory reporting, Sam would like to see alternative models eventually utilized and explored. Sam regards establishing mandatory reporting as an ethical dilemma for social workers as the first step in this area and plans to follow up with more research on the subject.

         In addition, Sam is currently a doctoral candidate at Portland State University, where they are completing doctoral research on the history of social workers as prison wardens during the Progressive Era. Sam became interested in this area of inquiry after the town they lived in during their MSW program began to experiment with police social work. Sam noticed that within police history, it is impossible to avoid running into social work history, prompting Sam to ask the question, “What distinguished police from social workers?” During their research, Sam found that Progressive Era training schools, reform schools, and reformatories were difficult to distinguish from prisons. However, the dominant story in social work education relates to social workers’ role in advocating for juvenile reform to prioritize rehabilitation over punishment. Therefore, Sam felt a huge piece of the social work history relating to these training schools, reform schools, and reformatories of the Progressive Era is missing, prompting their doctoral inquiry into social work’s role in shaping the development of the US prison system during the Progressive era. As a prison abolitionist, Sam hopes to explore decisions made a century ago to better learn from them now.

         Sam was drawn to teaching at Seattle University for the social work program’s commitment to social justice in the curriculum. Sam feels that such a commitment allows students and faculty to hold each other accountable to the program’s commitment. According to Sam, a strong social work program also needs a balance between introducing students to where social work is as a profession and encouraging students to imagine where social work could be. Sam felt Seattle University’s program navigates that balance well, as the program prepares students to navigate current systems but encourages students to become change-makers in the field. Additionally, Sam appreciates the small social work faculty at SU and how courses exist on a continuum, operating from agreed-upon commitments to social justice. Sam notices that every week, SU students reference material from other classes, creating through-lines across curriculums and the program. 

         Outside of the MSW program, Sam works for Affilia: Feminist Inquiry in Social Work, a peer-reviewed scholarly social work journal centering feminist points of view, as an Editorial Assistant. As an Editorial Assistant, Sam helps to run Affilia’s Critical Feminist webinar series, communicates with authors, and vets research manuscripts (view future Affilia Critical Feminist webinars here). In addition, Sam is an MSW field liaison for Portland State University’s MSW program and teaches in summers at Indiana University’s MSW program on executive leadership.

         Sam feels that the most challenging part of their work is balancing the bridge between where social work is at with where we want to be as a profession. Sam feels the most rewarding part of their work is being with students as they ask new, more nuanced questions. If Sam could give social work students one piece of advice, it’s to read outside the field. According to Sam, students should read what sociologists, criminologists, artists, and more write about social welfare and social justice. Sam says that at its core, social work has always been an interdisciplinary, relatively new field, and students do have the privilege now of accessing materials created by social workers for social workers. Still, Sam argues that there can be a lot learned from outside fields when it comes to critical histories and critiques, too.

Student Highlight, BSW: Kiarra Woodman

Kiarra Woodman

Are you involved in any on-campus groups, clubs, or activities and/or are you involved in any research?

I am a part of the Black Student Union on campus and I consider my on-campus job at the Office of Multicultural Affairs to be a large on-campus group because we’re so involved with students! I am the office assistant for their Food Security Initiative and we do research on students’ needs in terms of food insecurity. I am also in Departmental Honors, so I am currently conducting my own research project.

Have you received any awards or scholarships?

I am a recipient of the Fostering Scholars scholarship.

What year are you graduating?

I will be graduating this year in June.

What inspired you to go into social work, and why did you choose Seattle University’s program?

I initially began my college education studying criminal justice and psychology, but sometime in my freshman year, I took a class that was taught by a LICSW who worked in crisis intervention. This piqued my interest and when I was informed more about social work and how broad the field is, I began taking even more social work classes, and now it will be the degree I earn!

I chose Seattle University’s program because of its emphasis on integrating an anti-oppressive practice lens and a holistic practicum experience. I wanted to be a part of a program that stressed the importance of becoming professionals who are committed to social justice advocacy throughout our education and after we earn our degrees.

What are your plans after graduation (And when do you graduate)? Or what do you hope to do in social work after graduation?

My hope after graduation is to work with youth and young adults experiencing the juvenile justice and/or child welfare system. Most importantly, I want to be a part of making a positive impact on the community.

What is your practicum this year, and what population are you working with?

My placement is at the Center for Justice Social Work in Arlington. We work with individuals who use emergency services frequently and who are experiencing social challenges such as housing, mental health, financial insecurity, and more. We provide case management services to address the root cause for their contact with first responders for non-emergencies and to reduce 911 calls within the area.

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

I volunteer with AFS Intercultural Exchange Program in the Puget Sound region; I work with exchange students who are attending high school in the United States and help organize events that address cultural differences they may experience and provide tools and resources for navigating those differences. I am also a volunteer with UW’s Racial Covenants Project, a project that finds and maps neighborhoods with property deeds that contain racial covenants, which prevented people of color from purchasing homes in certain areas of Seattle.

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

The most rewarding time has definitely been my practicum experience; being able to experience how social workers work with service users in a real-world context has been amazing. I get to work with people directly and provide the basics of case management while learning from professionals within the agency and becoming more aware of the impact of legislation and policies on the social service world.

What’s one piece of advice you would give your younger self if you could?

Probably to never doubt myself!

What personal strengths are you proud to bring with you as a social worker?

I believe the lived experience I have as someone who has previously experienced the foster care system is a personal strength that shows up a lot and that I am proud of. I understand a lot of systems as a navigator, and it helps me understand the specific ways in which systems can harm individuals. Also, my passion! I have been passionate about social work and social justice for as long as I can remember, and it is something that keeps me driven and excited about the field of social work.

Student Highlight, MSW: Allie Deo

Allie Deo

Have you received any awards or scholarships? 

I was awarded a graduate scholarship for students of color when I applied to this program. I wrote about how the funds would help me succeed in the MSW program. I was awarded $10,000 split amongst the six quarters of my program. I am grateful that I was able to apply for this scholarship without jumping through hoops to prove my merit or need.

Where did you get your undergraduate degree and what did you study?

I received my undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida. I studied health sciences with a concentration in aging studies and biological sciences. During my time in undergrad, I also studied psychology as a research assistant.

What inspired you to go into social work, and why did you choose Seattle University’s program?

I choose Seattle U’s program because I really appreciated that they were social justice oriented and that the in-state and out-of-state tuition were the same. Part of what motivated me to go into social work was that I felt like therapy had changed my life. I wanted to go into a profession that addressed mental health but I felt that psychology and psychiatry didn’t do this as hollistically as I was hoping. After learning about the field of social work, I realized it aligned with my values, beliefs, and preferred methods of care the most.

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

There are so many jobs and experiences in the field of social work that I am interested to try. It has made it difficult for me to narrow down what I want to do and what population I would like to work with. I am interested in becoming a licensed clinician, advocating for changes in policy, trauma-informed care, and doing social work related research. I would like to work in many different settings including schools, justice system, local government offices, activist organizations, community centers, non-profits, etc.

What is your practicum this year, and what population are you working with?

My practicum this year is through Catholic Community Services and the program I work for is Family Nest Pregnancy and Parenting Support. I am working with parents and families with children 5 and younger. We mostly serve the Latinx population and single parents.

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

Outside of school, I am a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line but I had to put that on pause since my program is very rigorous. I also have organized an online support group for the women at my job.

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

There are so many rewarding and exciting things about my time in the MSW program. First of all, my cohort has some of the kindest people I ever had the pleasure of meeting. Secondly, I am learning so much valuable information that changed my perspective. Thirdly, having client interactions has been such an amazing experience. Witnessing the strength and resilience of people is painstakingly beautiful.

What’s one piece of advice you would give your younger self if you could?

If I could give advice to my younger self, I would say to listen to your gut.

What personal strengths are you proud to bring with you as a social worker?

Personal strengths that I am proud to bring with me as a social worker is my capacity to be empathetic, compassionate, and understanding of myself and others.

For Students: Seattle U Resource Review!Photo of sign on SU campus






Review some of the resources available to Seattle University students below!




  • Office of Multicultural Affairs Emergency Financial Assistance

    • OMA Emergency Fund for emergency financial assistance for SU students experiencing one-time, non-tuition related financial emergencies.
    • Mariposa Emergency Fund for undocumented students experiencing one-time, non-tuition related financial emergencies and unDACAmented students needing financial assistance with filing their DACA renewal.
  • Resources for Commuter Students

    • The Commuter Link is a community and resource space for all commuter students.
    • Transportation and Parking offers parking permits and transit passes at a discounted rate, as well as security escort and the Night Hawk nighttime shuttle program.
    • Commuter Meal Plans are available to add to your student ID card for use at any of the dining options on campus.
    • Lockers are available to rent for all commuter students.
  • Disability Services

    • Disability Services partners with the SU community to recognize disability as a valued aspect of diversity and embrace access as a significant component of social justice. View Disability Service's Campus & Community Resources and information for Academic Accommodations.  
  • Career Engagement Office Career Coaching & Programs 

    • The Career Engagement Office welcomes undergraduate students, graduate students, and recent alumni and can assist with exploring career paths, finding internships, conducting job searches, and applying to graduate school or preparing for your next professional role.
  • Student Health and Wellness

      • All Seattle University students have access to 24/7 virtual medical and mental healthcare from anywhere in the United States through TimelyCare.
      • The Student Health Center offers on-campus healthcare at minimal cost for many health and wellness needs. The center functions primarily as a clinic but reserves same day appointments for more urgent medical needs. 
      • View additional information about student health insurance, Covid vaccination and test information, University Recreation, Counseling & Psychological Services, & student safety.
  • Student Identity & Affiliation Support

  • Graduate Student Council Conference Funding

    • The Individual Conference Grant is to support and facilitate graduate and professional student research initiatives and professional formation through attendance of professional conferences.
  • Graduate Student Graduate and Adult Learner Link 

    • The Graduate and Adult Learner Link (formerly the McGoldrick Collegium) is the home for graduate students and adult learners over the age of 25. The GAL offers a comfortable, engaging, and fun community space with an outdoor patio, kitchenette, printing & study areas, and proximity to shops and restaurants in Capitol Hill. 
  • Graduate Student & Adult Learner McGoldrick Lending Library  

    • The McGoldrick Lending Library is a free textbook lending library available to all graduate students and adult learners at Seattle University. 


MSW Student Blog

Check out the most recent post from our MSW Student Blog by Sabrina Figueroa: 

Tree on Campus

Employment Alerts

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Ideas for future newsletters? Contact us!

Katie Hoag

MSW Program Coordinator

Sarah Smith

MSW Program Marketing Graduate Assistant