Social Work  News


Veterans, health and society

20/05/19

Veterans put up a flagA recent edition of WCNY’s Connect New York, “Beyond PTSD: Veterans, Health & Society,” interviewed visiting teaching professor Kenneth Marfilius. The session, led by broadcast journalist Susan Arbetter, focused on the mental health challenges of veterans. Besides Dr. Marfilius, experts included Derek Coy, a Veterans’ Health Officer with the New York State Health Foundation, Melissa Spicer, President, CEO and Co-Founder of Clear Path for Veterans, and Dr. Tanya Bowen, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist at the Syracuse VA Medical Center.

Active veterans often do not seek help because they fear a mental health diagnosis that could lead to a Fit for Duty examination and possibly to a discharge. Active duty mental health therapists can also have a difficult job of balancing the needs of the military and the mission as well as those of the individual on active duty service. These challenges can lead individuals on active duty to not speak up when they have a problem. Sometimes the feeling of not being able to talk about mental health carries over into their civil lives once they are out of the service.

While active duty, Marfilius served in the U.S. Air Force Biomedical Science Corps in multiple roles: active duty clinical social worker, mental health therapist, family advocacy officer in charge, and as manager of the alcohol and drug prevention and treatment program. He was commissioned in 2013 and was discharged in 2016 having obtained the rank of captain. At the Barksdale Air Force Base, Marfilius served in a variety of mental health roles related to sexual assault prevention and response, suicide prevention, and traumatic stress. Marfilius has also worked for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs at the Syracuse VA Medical Center in the Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Program.

Community groups are key in engaging veteran populations and providing a sense of belonging and purpose. One example of this is the Clear Path K-9 program, which has helped to shed light on the importance of animal-assisted intervention for health. Veterans dealing with depression, anxiety and chronic health issues sometimes have a hard time acknowledging the need for help and can be mistrustful of the system depending on their experiences. During the WCNY edition, Melissa Spicer explained that Clear Path was founded on building trust within the veteran’s population. The organization originally started with a K-9 service dog program.

The K-9 Dogs2Vets program, provides emotional support to veterans with post-traumatic stress, military sexual trauma, or physical impairments by establishing a reliable relationship between them and a canine companion. Dogs are selected from shelters and matched with veterans based on specific needs and interests; some veterans bring their own dog.

The program is getting results. Veterans have become less isolated and more interactive, less hypervigilant and more physically active. The program has witnessed increases and reemergence of sense of humor, decreased levels of anxiety, increases in levels of trust and higher levels of confidence among participants. Participants have to problem solve and make important decisions with respect to their canine partners, and this spills over into decision making in other aspects of their lives.

Falk College’s Dessa Bergen-Cico and Brooks Gump, professors of public health and Yvonne Smith, assistant professor of social Work have all worked with Clear Path’s Dogs2Vets program doing research that seeks to quantify the gains, measuring things like post-traumatic stress, quality of life, and negative thoughts among participants in the program. Initial results of the program assessment looked good, including a marked decrease in PTSD symptoms and negative thoughts and increased quality-of-life scores—the opposite of outcomes observed in a control group waiting to enroll in Dogs2Vets.

Further research has reported significant reductions in PTSD symptoms, as well as reductions in perceived stress, isolation, and self-judgement, and significant increases in self-compassion when comparing the veterans that participated in the Dogs2Vets program over a 12-month period to veterans that were on the waiting list to receive a dog during that time period.

Falk College has been committed to helping veterans through research and educational opportunities:

The Undergraduate Trauma Research Training program is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Education for Undergraduates (REU) opportunity directed by Brooks B. Gump, a professor of Public Health in Falk College. This program brings together veterans and non-veterans in a safe environment to pursue trauma research activities.

The program, now in its eighth year, draws on personal experiences of veterans who understand the nature and context of traumatic events. The program has many successful stories to share that has impacted the lives of veterans and their families.

Falk College supports many other active research projects and has many veteran’s students currently getting an education. If you are a veteran or individual interested in joining an educational program doing research with the veteran population, reach out to our Admissions team to find opportunities that fit your passions.

Falk College’s many academic programs focus on touching the lives of individuals and making an impact within our community.

View a listing of all of Falk College’s academic programs
Watch the full interview on WCNY Connect New York


Social Work Student Leads On and Off the Ice

16/05/19

Allie Munroe and fellow hockey teammates discuss on the iceAs Allie Munroe graduates with a bachelor’s degree in social work from the Falk College, she looks back with deep gratitude on her experience as a student and a four-year defensive player on the Syracuse ice hockey team. After leading Syracuse University to its first NCAA tournament, Allie Munroe charts a course to play professional ice hockey.

Allie Munroe grew up at the hockey rink and soccer field in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Not one to sit on the sidelines, she strapped on her first pair of ice skates at age five. That was the first spark that ignited Munroe’s passion for hockey.

That passion—and a fierce determination—led her to teams and camps in Canada, and eventually to Syracuse University, to develop her skill in the sport.

As a senior captain, she helped lead the Orange to the College Hockey America (CHA) championship and a spot in the NCAA tournament, the program’s first in its 11-year history. She was awarded Best Defensive Player and Most Valuable Player honors at the team’s annual banquet on April 25.

Becoming a student athlete

When exploring colleges, Syracuse quickly captured her heart. “I stepped on campus and fell in love right away,” she says. “There is so much history here, and everyone knows Syracuse for its academics and athletics.”

She learned to balance her life on the ice and in the classroom. As a part of the required internship for her major, she worked at Huntington Family Centers, a local organization dedicated to children and families. There, Munroe provided pre-counseling and post-counseling services. “My internship experience helped me to put everything in perspective,” she says. “No matter what happened on the ice, I got to go to my internship and help people. Some days were difficult, but it was rewarding.”

Munroe says being a student-athlete helped her to be a better student in the classroom, especially with time management skills. “When I was in class, I usually had to stop myself from trying to relate it to hockey,” she says.

Munroe reflects on the growth she has experienced on the ice during her four years at Syracuse. “I was a little bit of an underdog; I am going to assume the coaches really didn’t know how I would turn out,” she says of her first year. “I am pretty proud of what we have accomplished, especially winning the CHA in my senior year.”

In that first year, the team advanced to the CHA championship game, but lost, leaving a strong memory. “In the locker room, there was not a dry eye. You realize you are never going to play with these seniors—or this team—again,” she says. “It’s heartbreaking.”

The experience was still fresh in her mind as the team closed in on the 2019 title. “I think there was about a minute left and I had the puck. I realized we were going to win and can’t even describe the feeling,” she says. “I had a flashback—there are no sad tears today. We get to throw off our gloves and celebrate.”

“That moment, just skating on the ice, it was like, this is it—it has been an amazing four years at Syracuse. It just all hit me at that moment. Especially celebrating afterwards. I had tears in my eyes, just all of the emotion of past years,” she says.

The Promising Path Ahead

With her Syracuse experience complete, Munroe is now focused on playing hockey professionally and working toward her goal of representing Canada in the Winter Olympics. She also plans to pursue a career in social work in the future.

Wherever her journey takes her, she says she will always bleed Orange.

“I am going to miss Syracuse more than you know,” Munroe says. “It has a special place in my heart; I couldn’t have picked a better school.”

Read the full story

Adapted from Syracuse Stories – an article by Kelly Homan Rodoski


O’Donnell Honors Family Heritage in Military Service, Now Serves Fellow Veterans Through Social Work

07/05/19

Nathan stands in front of an American flagEveryone remembers where they were when they first heard the news. It was a day that lives were changed forever. Yet in the midst of devastating loss on Sept. 11, 2001, many responded in the spirit of courage and hope. Nathan O’Donnell ’20 was one of them.

A high school student at the time, O’Donnell decided to join the U.S. Air Force upon graduation. “I felt called to serve my country,” he says. “I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and use the skills that the Lord gave me to serve our nation.”

O’Donnell shares in a family legacy of military service. His father served in the Army for four years, and his two younger brothers are in the Air Force. “Growing up, I was always proud of my family’s accomplishments and service,” he says. “I am very honored to have the opportunity to serve with them and continue to honor our family name.”

His paternal grandfather, Edward Joseph O’Donnell, served in both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army for a total of 26 years. He enlisted at age 17 before finishing high school. When he returned to Syracuse after World War II, he enrolled in business administration at Syracuse University in the late 1940s.

Today, his grandson Nathan is following in his footsteps as he finishes his junior year at the University.

Born and raised in Syracuse, O’Donnell has many memories of cheering on the Orange in the Carrier Dome. He always dreamed of attending his hometown university, but he had other goals in mind following high school. “I wanted to serve in the military and have the chance to see the world.”

Little did he know his time in the military would later lead him to study at Syracuse University. “While in the military, I had the opportunity to do a few different jobs,” he says. “I enlisted initially as an F-15 Eagle maintainer and later cross-trained into the medical career field as a mental health technician and substance abuse counselor. I really enjoyed working with my fellow service members and their families to overcome challenges.”

O’Donnell’s experience as a mental health technician inspired him to continue his life of service, this time in the field of human services. That’s when he enrolled in the School of Social Work in Falk College. “I am so blessed to have the opportunity later in life to make my dream come true and attend Syracuse.”

With the help of dedicated staff in the school’s Office of Field Instruction and their many connections with agencies and organizations throughout the region, O’Donnell completed an internship at the Syracuse Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in the fall, where he hopes to start his career as a social worker. “I would first like to work at the VA in order to give back to fellow veterans.” He envisions someday taking his skills to other settings, as well, including the Syracuse public school system.

In the meantime, connecting with others in the University’s veteran community continues to be a major highlight of his college experience. “It has been fun to see what classes we have together,” he says. “We are able to go through the same experiences together.”

O’Donnell says he has found a supportive community at Syracuse: “Overall, my experience as a student veteran at Syracuse has been amazing. There have been so many people that have been put in my path that have been so helpful and welcoming. My transition from military service to civilian and student life could not have gone more smoothly. Syracuse University is truly a place for veterans.”

After completing his bachelor’s degree, O’Donnell plans to continue his education at Syracuse and pursue a master of social work degree.


Falk College honors faculty for excellence in research, service and teaching

07/05/19

Professors Rashmi Gangamma, Tracey Musarra Marchese, Yvonne Smith receive 2019 Falk College Faculty of the Year Awards

Faculty members from the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy and School of Social Work were honored for excellence in teaching, research and service with 2019 Falk College Faculty of the Year Awards on May 3. The honorees, who are nominated by their peers for outstanding performance and contributions to students, the Falk College, Syracuse University and beyond. They include:

Rashmi Gangamma Portrait Dr. Rashmi Gangamma, Associate Professor, Marriage and Family Therapy
Excellence in Research
Tracey Marchese portrait Professor Tracey Musarra Marchese, School of Social Work
Excellence in Service
Yvonne Smith portrait Dr. Yvonne Smith, School of Social Work
Excellence in Teaching

To read more about the teaching, research, service and scholarship activities of the honorees on the Falk College website, visit the Falk faculty web pages.


Once a High School Dropout, Now a High Honor Student in Falk College

03/05/19

By Eileen Jevis | Syracuse University News

Chevon Janczuk Portrait
Chevon Janczuk
As a public school student in Massachusetts, Chevon Janczuk thought she had her life all figured out. “It turned out my teenage self was wrong,” she says. Janczuk dropped out of high school in her sophomore year, but immediately recognized her mistake. She obtained her GED and after earning certification as a nursing assistant went to work in health care.

However, Janczuk couldn’t make ends meet with the salary she was earning. “Dropping out of high school wasn’t the best decision on my part,” she says. “I knew my calling in life was to help people, so I began to search for jobs that appealed to me. I did an internet search for social work degree programs, and Syracuse University was one of the first to pop up.”

Janczuk called University College and spoke to someone in the advising office who told her about the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). “The next thing I knew, I was applying to college,” she says.

Janczuk has four children—ages two to eight—and two stepchildren. She finds it challenging to balance raising her children, studying and doing homework. “If you want something bad enough, you find the time for it,” she says. “Sometimes it requires waking up before the kids and staying up late. Other times it requires staying extra hours on campus to take advantage of the quiet in the lounge or library.”

She also relies on family, friends or a babysitter to take care of the children for a few hours so she can write a paper or do research. “And sometimes, I involve my children in my homework,” she says. “For whatever reason, helping me with statistics is fun for them.”

Janczuk credits the strong support of her family for her success and recognizes that her husband is her strongest cheerleader. “He is incredible at cheering me on and encouraging me,” she says. “There have been many nights where I’ve made him listen to long scholarly papers that I’m sure he doesn’t want to hear about. I am constantly rambling off statistics and research that doesn’t interest him, but he listens anyway.”

Janczuk is a sophomore in Falk College with a double major in social work and psychology. On April 19, Janczuk, who has a GPA of 3.9, received an Academic Excellence Award at the HEOP Awards Ceremony. She was also selected to address the students, faculty and staff attending the event. “I know that you realize the opportunity to be in the HEOP program is one that would be foolish to turn down,” she remarked in her address. “You have access to a network of individuals—staff at this very college [University College] who go out of their way to make sure you’re successful. From the academic advisors, to the professors to the receptionist at the front desk; from the financial aid advisors to your peers, and even the dean—every person that surrounds you is here to support you. You have been handed that opportunity of a lifetime.”

When she completes her undergraduate degree, Janczuk intends to pursue a master’s degree in social work and perhaps a Ph.D. in psychology. Her interests lie within the criminal justice field, and she hopes to one day be involved in the criminal justice system addressing the mental health needs of inmates. Her goal is influenced by her husband’s profession as a corrections officer. “When you see a pattern of repeat visitors to a correctional facility, you begin to wonder what can be done to help them become more productive members of society,” she says.

“My hope is that I can give my children a better future due to my decision to earn a college degree and set myself up in a successful career,” she says. “As a non-traditional student, it is not always easy. You have to want it, and you have to work for it.”


Congratulations 2019 Falk Student Research Celebration Winners

17/04/19

Students talk in hall in front of a winning research posterFalk College congratulates the following winners of the 2019 Falk Student Research Celebration:

Undergraduate Winners

Name: Bridget Clark
Kelly Brown, BS; Heather Brubacker, MS, Dietetic Intern; Laura Brown, MS, RD; Baylee Carroll, BS, Dietetic Intern; Elizabeth Gardner; April Hill; Sarah Mihalko, BS; Katie Obojkovits, BS, Dietetic Intern; Madeline Peck; Tanya Horacek, PhD, RD, Professor; Syracuse University, Syracuse NY.
Program/Major: Nutrition Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Tanya Horacek
Title: Process Evaluation of the Healthy Campus Environmental Audits

Name: Olivia Cullen
Madeline Peck; Tanya Horacek, PhD, RD, Professor; Syracuse University, Syracuse NY.
Program/Major: Nutrition Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Tanya Horacek
Title: Assessing Food Insecurity Rates and Effects on a Sample of Undergraduate Students

Name: CB Garrett
Program/Major: Sport Analytics
Faculty Research Mentor: Rodney Paul
Title: Impact of Birthplace on Player Performance in Different Weather Conditions

Graduate Winners

Name: Jennifer Guzzy
Program/Major: Master of Social Work (MSW)
Faculty Research Mentor: Ryan Heath
Title: Extracurriculars and Teachers as a Substitute for Parents: Do they support strong academic outcomes in students without parental involvement?

Name: Madeline Hilton
Program/Major: MSPH Global Health
Faculty Research Mentor: David Larsen
Title: Indoor Residual Spray Campaigns in Community Protection Against Malaria

Name: Ying Zhang
Program/Major: Human Development and Family Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Rachel Razza
Title: Positive Development in Adolescence: the Reciprocal Relationships Between Facets of Self-Compassion and Self-Regulation


A Tiny Home for Good, Lepa Jones of Mothers Against Gun Violence to Receive 2019 Rubenstein Social Justice Awards

04/03/19
Rubenstein Portrait
Dan and Mary Lou Rubenstein

In commemoration of National Professional Social Work Month during March, the School of Social Work in Falk College will present its annual Dan and Mary Lou Rubenstein Social Justice Award program on Monday, March 25, at 6:45 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel. The keynote address will be given by Colonel Parker Schenecker, United States Army (retired), titled, “Overcoming Adversity: Embracing Resilience and Social Change.”

Colonel Parker Schenecker was a senior leader and strategist in the U.S. intelligence community, responsible for support to the U.S. defense and counter-terrorism efforts in the Middle East. He finished his 27 year Army career at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, with combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and over 20 deployments in the Middle East. His unique story of service, honor and resilience overcoming adversity is inspiring. After 30-plus years of government service, this leader, role model and father has chosen to continue his service by remembering how his children lived.

Lepa Jones is the president of Mothers Against Gun Violence, who, along with A Tiny Home for Good, Inc. of Syracuse, New York, will be honored that evening with the 2019 Dan and Mary Lou Rubenstein Social Justice Awards for their respective demonstrated commitments to service and social justice in the Syracuse community.

Mothers Against Gun Violence is a grassroots organization that works with neighborhood leaders, politicians, media and local organizations to address and prevent gun violence. A Tiny Home for Good, Inc. supports those facing homelessness by providing affordable, safe and dignified homes and fostering strong community partnerships to ensure resident stability.

Presented for more than 30 years, the Rubenstein Social Justice Award is given in honor of the late professor Dan Rubenstein, a former faculty member in the School of Social Work and his late wife, Mary Lou, a former school social worker. Recipients of this award are role models whose courage and strength inspire others to stand up—and step up—to advocate and be a voice in the Syracuse community. The values of social justice are integral to their daily lives. The work of honorees each year, by their individual and collective examples, exemplify the true spirit of the Rubenstein Social Justice Award.

The event is free and open to the public. Reception to follow. R.S.V.P. to Laura Brown at ljmarra@syr.edu or 315.443.5562 by March 18. Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART) services will be provided. For accommodations requests, please contact Laura Brown at ljmarra@syr.edu or 315.443.5562 by March 18.


2019 Falk Student Research Celebration Takes Place March 26-29

12/02/19
Brooks Gump and Ivan Castro stand next to a research poster
Falk Family Endowed Professor in Public Health, Brooks Gump with 2018 poster session winner Ivan Castro, Graduate Student in Public Health

Falk students are invited to submit posters for completed or in-progress empirical, exploratory, policy analytic or hypothesis-driven research projects using qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods for display, judging, and awards in the 2019 Falk Student Research Celebration March 26-29. The multi-day event will highlight Falk students’ research collaborations and their dedication to advancing research knowledge.

Poster entry forms are due March 7 and poster submissions are due March 21. Posters will be on display beginning March 26 near the second floor student lounge and the Falk Café on 2 in the Falk Complex, with judging and awards taking place March 27. Students will present their posters from 12 to 1 p.m. on March 27 and 28.

The Falk College Research Center promotes a robust, collaborative research community in which students play an active role. At Falk, graduate and undergraduate students have the opportunity to work directly with faculty to collect data, analyze findings and draw conclusions on relevant topics surrounding public health, food studies, nutrition, sport management, human development and family science, social work, and marriage and family therapy.

“Conducting research as a student has many benefits, including building a strong relationship with Falk faculty members, improving writing and statistical analysis skills, and creating connections both on and off campus,” says instructor Jessica Redmond. “Because much of the research in Falk College has real-world implications, we want students to be able to share their findings publicly, and the Falk Student Research Celebration is the perfect opportunity to do so.”

“The student research days is a great showcase of the work our students are doing to understand the world and the human condition,” says assistant professor David Larsen. “It’s always fun to see the new ideas that our students have, and how they are seeking to improve the world we live in.”

Assistant professor Bhavneet Walia agrees. “It’s a great way to quench your curiosity,” she says. “Come see what our students are up to at the Falk Student Research Celebration.”

Winners of the 2018 Falk Student Research Celebration, held March 27-30, 2018, included research in a wide range of topics, such as maternal health, accessibility, and PTSD.

For more information about the 2019 Falk Student Research Celebration, contact Amy Dumas adumas@syr.edu at the Falk Research Center.


New Falk Office of Career Services opens with events for Falk students Feb. 1 and 8

30/01/19

Entrance to Falk College

The new Falk College Office of Career Services will provide Falk students with personalized guidance and resources to help them achieve their post-graduation goals, start new careers, or pursue graduate study. Services include one-on-one resume and cover letter consultation, interview coaching, job search strategy and negotiation preparation, digital presence and branding assistance, as well as skill-building guidance in professional communication and networking. Falk Career Services will also provide support to Falk alumni throughout their careers, and act as a liaison between Falk College and employers seeking to recruit Falk students, recent graduates, or experienced alumni.

To celebrate the grand opening, first year and sophomore Falk students are invited to an opportunity fair on Friday, February 1 from 1 to 3 p.m. The event will feature several on-campus clubs, professional organizations, and community volunteer groups with employment, service, and social opportunities to share.

The following Friday, February 8 from 1 to 3 p.m., Falk juniors, seniors, and graduate students are invited to a networking mixer to meet with alumni, area employers, and professional organizations, expand their professional networks, and prepare for the career and internship hiring process.

Both events are free of charge and take place in Grant Rotunda in the Falk Complex. Refreshments will be served.

The Falk College Office of Career Services is integrated with Handshake, Syracuse University’s new career management tool. Using Handshake, students can schedule career counseling appointments, find event details for career fairs and employer visits on campus, and discover job and internship opportunities with over 300,000 employers. Students who wish to receive information from Falk College Career Services should join Handshake.

Falk Career Services is housed within the College’s Student Services unit, which includes 10 staff members dedicated to providing a caring, comfortable and confidential environment where students can discuss academic, social and emotional concerns. Falk Student Services also provides advising for undeclared students and tracks all requirements for degree completion.

Contact Falk College Career Services at falkcareers@syr.edu or (315) 443-3144, or visit Suite 300 MacNaughton Hall. Read the full announcement on the SU News website.


Exploring human rights issues through international social work internship

28/11/18

Jennifer LoPiccolo poses with a view of the Parthenon in the distanceDuring orientation for Syracuse University’s master of social work (MSW) program, Jennifer LoPiccolo G’18 recalls circling international social work on a survey asking about her primary career interests. “When I learned about the comparative social work program that Professor Nancy Mudrick leads in Strasbourg, she and I began to plan a really unique whole semester in Strasbourg,” recalls LoPiccolo.

Mudrick, who was LoPiccolo’s academic advisor, received a Fulbright/Alsace Regional Award in France where she spent the Spring 2016 semester teaching and doing research. The Fulbright Award resulted from relationships built during the eleven years that Mudrick has led MSW students to the RECOS seminar in Europe as part of the Topics in Advanced Social Work Practice and Policy course. In this twelve-day abroad experience, Mudrick immerses Syracuse University students in comparative social work services across France, Germany and Switzerland in conjunction with social work students from these countries through a seminar organized by the Confédération des Ecoles Supérieures en Travail Social de la Regio.

“Jennifer was a student who wanted to experience all she could while in her graduate program. She became exposed to refugee resettlement work through her foundation-level internship, which led to an interest in immersing herself in another culture,” says Tracy T. Walker, director of field instruction, School of Social Work. “Although the field education program does not regularly provide internships in other countries, we pride ourselves on developing unique and innovative opportunities for students. Jennifer’s motivation and focus were the main reasons why this endeavor was so successful.”

While LoPiccolo was counseling refugee youth in Syracuse through an internship placement at Catholic Charities, Northside CYO and Nottingham High School, she attended a campus event on migration and substance use in Europe. There she met Thomas Kattau and Elena Hedoux from the Council of Europe’s Pompidou Group, which is located in Strasbourg. In working closely with Professor Mudrick, who connected her with Dr. Raymond Bach, director of Syracuse University’s Strasbourg Center, as well as Walker, LoPiccolo applied for an internship with the Pompidou Group.

The Pompidou Group’s core mission is to contribute to developing multidisciplinary, innovative, effective and evidence-based drug policies in its Member States. Earlier this spring, a four-year collaborative partnership between the Falk College and the Pompidou Group was announced to support rigorous curricular development and training for drug policy administrators. This collaboration is an outgrowth of Falk College’s on-going partnerships with the Pompidou Group led by associate professor of public health Dessa Bergen-Cico.

For her MSW field placement during Spring 2018, LoPiccolo had the unique opportunity to work as a graduate trainee with the Council’s drug policy group, researching the relationship between refugees and drugs, effective treatment methods, transcultural challenges, and prevention. She lived in Strasbourg, France for the semester and took some political science course electives to complement her macro-focused concentration.

Says LoPiccolo, “one of the most attractive things was the chance to contribute to an international organization and bridge my practical work experience counseling refugee students with policy action research.”

“When you are immersed in another culture and country looking at their social systems, you see your home country-and the assumptions you’ve made about it-much differently,” notes Mudrick.

“Every day was a new opportunity to discuss human rights issues through various backgrounds,” says LoPiccolo. She immersed herself in research exploring the challenges Mediterranean countries faced with refugees, substance use, drug networks, and preventing coercion. She was invited to present her findings at the International Conference on Refugees and Drugs in Athens, Greece hosted by the Pompidou Group. With support from Falk College, she travelled to the conference, spoke about current research on this topic, and facilitated a workshop.

Says Kattau, “because of her practical experience on the topic, participants had the opportunity to have a deeper understanding of the situation in other European countries and the U.S.”

“I could not have had this academic and professional experience without the support of Falk Dean Diane Lyden Murphy, director of the School of Social Work, Professor Keith Alford, my advisor, Professor Nancy Mudrick, director of the Syracuse University Strasbourg Center, Dr. Raymond Bach, and director of field relations, Tracy Walker,” concludes LoPiccolo.

“We were thrilled to have Jennifer spend a semester with us in Strasbourg. Before her arrival, I worked closely with the School of Social Work to make sure that Jennifer would be able to take courses that would fulfil her graduate requirements, and also that she would have an internship in English that was closely linked to her interests,” says Bach. “At the end of the semester I could see that she had truly benefited from her opportunity to compare the European and American systems of social support, especially in the area of refugees and drug use. We now look forward to welcoming other graduate students in social work who would like to expand their horizons.”

While her internship was very research focused, she often drew on her practical experiences. “Research and direct service must inform one another, and their close relationship is essential to all types of social progression. The internship at the Council of Europe really helped me think about the marriage between macro and micro social work practice. This is crucial to the evaluation work I am now developing because we use a culturally responsive theoretical framework to position a community’s values and beliefs at the center of program evaluation,” adds LoPiccolo.

“Jennifer has impressed me as an innovator who takes advantage of opportunities that enhance her social work acumen. She is proactive in her thinking and her actions,” says Keith A. Alford, director and associate professor, School of Social Work, and interim chief diversity officer, Syracuse University.

In July LoPiccolo began a new role as an evaluation specialist with Become: Center for Community Engagement and Social Change in Chicago where she leads culturally responsive program evaluations, facilitates community trainings, and manages projects that help organizations bring community to the center of their work.

“My internship with the Pompidou Group ultimately left me feeling more committed to making a social impact in the country I call home,” concludes LoPiccolo.


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