Falk College Board Member and Social Work Alumna Honors an Orange Friendship

Stacy Einhorn Helfstein Portrait
Stacy Helfstein ’98
Stacy ’98 is reconnecting with her Syracuse University roots.

It was the place where she met her best friend Heidi and her husband Jason while preparing for a career as a social worker. She recently became a member of the Falk College Advisory Board.

In December 2020, Stacy established the Sunflower Scholarship, a name which holds special significance for her and Heidi’s friendship. The scholarship will support current social work students by defraying tuition costs. “It’s something that I feel so connected to, and I know how important it is.”

Growing up, Stacy knew she wanted to be in a helping profession. “I knew someone at our synagogue who was a social worker,” she says. Stacy found her way to Syracuse University” I really didn’t find myself until I got to college and started my social work classes. That’s when I excelled. I knew I was in the right place and in the right profession.”

While the University was a big place, the School of Social work made her feel right at home. “For me, coming from a small town, small school, I liked that personal experience.” she says You get to actually know everyone in your program.”

Two women are posed together outside
Stacy (left) and Heidi (right) when they were Syracuse students

Stacy’s best friend was someone she met her first day at Syracuse. Heidi was a social work major, too, and coincidentally the two lived on the same floor in Day Hall. “We clicked on day one and became good friends very quickly,” she says.

As a student, Heidi relied on scholarships to pursue her passion for social work. Stacy’s parents, inspired by Stacy’s love for the social work program, became supporters the School of Social Work. “My parents knew how much I loved the program, so they started giving. They designated their gifts to the Dean’s scholarship fund because they knew Heidi would be a beneficiary.” Thanks to the support of student scholarship funds, Heidi graduated and went on to earn a master’s degree. Today, she owns two yoga studios where she connects her social work practice to yoga.

Seeing firsthand the importance of scholarship funds, Stacy decided to continue her parents’ legacy of giving by establishing the Sunflower Scholarship fund.

A couple is posed closely together in graduation clothing
Stacy with her now-husband Jason at her Syracuse graduation

Stacy met her future husband, Jason, while at Syracuse University, where Heidi and the School of Social Work played a prominent role in his marriage proposal to her, which included a surprise trip to Paris. “I had a test scheduled right after the weekend he planned to surprise me with a trip to Paris. He knew that being the kind of student I was, I would never get on a plane knowing I had a big test. He called my professor, Robert Keefe, and told him he was planning to propose. He asked if I could take the test at a later time. My professor was so excited to be involved, he ended up changing the test for everyone,” she says. Stacy and Jason are a second-generation orange love story, as Jason’s parents also met at Syracuse University—his mother from the School of Social Work and his father from the College of Law.

“The most impactful aspects of my Syracuse experience were the classes I took and the professors I had at the School of Social Work,” she adds. In social work education, Stacy says nothing prepares students like the social work field placement. “That’s where you learn how to be a social worker,” she says. “That’s where it all comes together—you really have to take what you’ve learned in the classroom and apply it. You have to sit across from someone and speak to them, hear them tell their story.”

Her BSSW from Syracuse granted her advanced standing in Columbia University’s graduate program, where she completed her master’s degree in one year as opposed to two. She worked for a number years in the field of mental health before raising her family. Now, she serves as a board member for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City and volunteers as a helpline responder, where she gets to use her social work degree.

“I feel most connected to my Syracuse experience and my Syracuse professors,” she says. As a member of the Falk College Advisory Board, Stacy will be actively engaged with Falk College leadership.