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Class of 2024 School of Social Work Awards

Students in a graduation ceremony sitting in folding chairs

The School of Social Work is pleased to recognize the outstanding work of its graduating students:

Keith Alford Diversity and Inclusion Award

The Keith Anthony Alford Diversity and Inclusion award named in honor of Dr. Keith Alford, formerly Syracuse University Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (2018-2021), the MSW Program Director (2016-2018), the BSSW Program Director (2008-2012), and the Director of the School of Social Work (2016-2019).

Recipient: Molly Thompson, Undergraduate

In Molly’s final year at Syracuse University, she had the privilege of interning at Huntington Observation and Parental Education also known as HOPE, where she learned the ins and outs of supervised visitations, fueling her passion for working with foster youth. Post-graduation, she plans to attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore for their Advanced Standing MSW program, where she hopes to continue to work within the foster care system. Molly’s ultimate aspiration is to bridge the gap between vulnerable youth and the legal system by becoming a Law Guardian.

Recipient: Antonio Triana, Graduate

Antonio is a second-year graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in clinical social work. He graduated from SUNY Oswego in 2019 with a BA in Philosophy-Psychology and a Graduate Certificate in Trauma Studies in 2020. He is currently placed at the Family and Children’s Counseling Services of Cortland agency, an integrated behavioral health facility, where he carries a caseload of, and provide one on one psychotherapy to, about 10-12 clients. After graduating from Syracuse, he will stay with FCS working at their office in Binghamton, while working towards obtaining an LMSW and eventually an LCSW.

Elizabeth Brown Thoreck Undergraduate Student Achievement Award

This award is presented to a non-traditional aged undergraduate student who is in good academic standing in the academic arena and the field placement setting.

Recipient: Megeno “Raheem” Abdi

Megeno “Raheem” Abdi was born in Kenya but lived in Syracuse most of their life. Raheem is currently placed at Resident Support Services within Syracuse Housing Authority, where its mission is to passionately work to address housing challenges and improve the community. With a heartfelt commitment to making a difference, Raheem plans to transition into serving their community by working directly with youth facing challenges, aiming to provide support, guidance, and opportunities.

Bachelor of Science in Social Work Award

This award is given to a Social Work graduating senior in good academic standing, involved in social work activities, community, and University contributions.

Recipient: Elliana Hershman

Elliana is a social work major and a human development and family sciences minor. She has been placed this year at Smith Road Elementary School in the North Syracuse School District. After graduation, she will be attending Boston College to pursue a clinical MSW degree in the advanced standing program with a health concentration. Elliana will be interning at Mass General Hospital on the Med/ Surg floor, eager to learn more about the interplay of medical conditions and mental health.

Scholastic Excellence Award, Undergraduate

This award is given to the student with the highest cumulative GPA among graduating seniors.

Recipient: Grace Sacco

Grace has enjoyed spending her senior year interning at Helio Health’s outpatient clinic for patients with coinciding mental health and substance use disorders. Throughout the year, her passion for health care equity and crisis intervention services has grown immensely. Following her graduation from Syracuse University, Grace will pursue Columbia University’s Advanced Standing MSW program and begin her field placement at Mount Sinai West Hospital working with adults admitted to their inpatient unit.

Catherine Mary Esposito Achievement Award

The Catherine Mary Esposito award is given to an outstanding student who has demonstrated a commitment to clients with developmental disabilities and is in good academic standing, but more importantly has a solid success with people who have developmental disabilities.

Recipient: Reva Goldberg, Undergraduate

Reva is a transfer student from Marion Military Institute who joined Syracuse University her junior year. This past school year, she spent her field placement at Jowonio which is a special integrated preschool. Throughout her time at Jowonio, she has worked heavily with OPWDD as she helps her clients gain provisional eligibility and ensures they receive support and services. Upon Graduating, Reva plans to take a gap year to finish her military training and apply for the advanced standing MSW program.

Recipient: Jake Handanyan, Graduate

Jacob is currently completing his graduate field placement at the Arc of Onondaga where he assists in improving agency function through assessment, grant writing, and implementation of various programs and procedures. Jacob is currently looking for a full-time position in his home state of Rhode Island working with the I/DD, or aging population.

Rhonda B Cohen Prize in Gerontology Award

The Rhonda B. Cohen Prize in Gerontology is named in honor of Rhonda Cohen, who graduated from the MSW program in 1983 and passed away at a young age. She was an advocate for the elderly. The award criteria include cumulative GPA, community service, and an interest in working with older adults.

Recipient: Alaysha Moore, Undergraduate

Alysha was born in the Bronx, NY and came to Syracuse to study social work hoping to make a real change in the community and strengthen her relationships with others. She currently has an internship at Syracuse Jewish Family Services at Menorah Park, working with the elderly population. She plans to continue her education by obtaining her master’s in social work in NYC after graduation.

Recipient: Elena Rector, Graduate

Elena has always had a passion for working with older adults, specifically those living with dementia. She is currently an intern at University Geriatricians, the outpatient geriatric clinic at SUNY Upstate. Elena plans to pursue licensure in Massachusetts and a job in long-term care or another setting working with older adults.

Virginia Insley Award, Graduate

This award is given to an outstanding Social Work MSW Health Care Concentration student who is interested in Maternal and Child Health.

Recipient: Jamie Boeheim

Jamie is currently a Clinical Social Work Intern at the SUNY Upstate Medical University Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic. She has grown tremendously at the interdisciplinary, outpatient training facility and has garnered unparalleled experience in diagnostic evaluation and treatment services. She looks forward to graduating in May 2024 and continuing to work clinically with children, adolescents, and their families in New York State.

Carrie Jefferson Smith Social Justice Award, Graduate

This award is given to a student who has demonstrated a commitment to social justice, particularly in the area of improving the lives of victims impacted by the continuum of domestic violence.

Recipient: Kate Gannon

Kate assisted a victim affected by domestic violence to reclaim her sense of safety and empowerment in the world. Her growth during their time together is a testament to the boundless possibilities of the human spirit and the importance of this work. Her future plans in social work include conducting research to discover what we can do to create communities that prevent the precursors for domestic violence.

Mary Pat Cotter Remembrance Award 2nd Year Graduate Student

This award is given to a graduate Social Work student for contributions to Substance abuse, HIV/AIDS

Recipient: Savannah Pidkaminy

Savannah has been a dedicated professional and student in the substance use field for the past 3.5 years, through Helio Health, and is honored to have the opportunity to be earning her master’s in social work from SU to further her education and skill set. She is currently completing her internship through Helio’s Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic, where she has sharpened her skills as both a mental health and substance use provider. Her passion for trauma-informed care underscores her commitment to empowering individuals on their journey towards recovery. She intends to remain steadfast in her mission to provide comprehensive care to those struggling with mental health and substance use disorders by advocating for and supporting individuals, families, and communities alike.

Kenneth J. Marfilius Student Veteran Award

The Kenneth J. Marfilius Student Veteran Award is given to a graduate student in good academic standing, who is a military veteran. The award is based on GPA, community, and University contributions.

Recipient: Jennifer Carter

Jennifer is a United States Air Force veteran, mother of three school-age children, and Department of Defense (DOD) spouse, pursuing an MSW while living in Germany in hopes of supporting others in her current military community. Her previous field placement was at Balanced Learning Center (BLC) which allowed her to provide therapeutic services to guide and support several youths and young adults. This opportunity highlighted a need for increased behavioral and mental health services for children and adolescents in her current military community. She hopes to pursue employment with Child, Adolescent, Family Behavioral Health Service (CAFBHS) in her location after graduation and Licensure.