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‘Uplifting People’

Bloom Social Scholarship Recipient Salma Silvas Seeks to Support Aging and Dying Community

In her distinguished career as a social worker, Jane Rockberger Bloom devoted her life to improving the lives of refugees who settled in the U.S.

Bloom, a 1969 Syracuse University alumna and engaged Falk College Advisory Board member, died in March 2022. But her mission to help others endures at the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics with the Jane Rockberger Bloom Social Scholarship in Refugee/Migration Services.

Salma Silvas poses in front of a cityscape
Salma Silvas, the 2022-23 recipient of the Jane Rockberger Bloom Social Scholarship in Refugee/Migration Services, says “all people, no matter their immigration or financial status, should have dignity when dying.”

The 2022-23 recipient of the award was School of Social Work graduate student Salma Silvas, who received her bachelor’s degree in social work in 2020 from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, before joining Syracuse University’s master’s program.

“As it was nearing time to apply to colleges and pick a major, I knew I had to help dismantle oppressive systems that hold people back,” Silvas says. “I found social work was the perfect match for me with the ability to work with different populations while uplifting people and gaining transferable skills.”

To learn more about Silvas, we asked about her hobbies, academic interests, and career aspirations. Here’s that conversation:

Q: Tell us about yourself–what do you like to do in your free time?

A: Being from a coastal community, I enjoy spending my time at the beach, walking along the coastline, and reading. Now that I attend school in Syracuse, I have had to adjust my hobbies slightly. Outside of academics, I enjoy hiking, admiring waterfalls, and the snow–I had only seen it a few times prior to moving here. I have pushed myself to move to a place where I did not know anyone, or anything, which has allowed me to gain more confidence in every aspect of my life.

Q: Why did you choose social work as a profession?

A: My grandfather made the journey from Mexico to this country decades ago in search of better opportunities for his family. Growing up in a Mexican American household and community, I saw first-hand how systems can sometimes work against communities of color. My parents instilled in me that going to school, having food, having a home, and having my basic needs met were all privileges that many people did not have.

Q: What are your academic interests and aspirations?

A: While obtaining my B.S.W., I fell in love with the aging population, which led me to my senior year internship at a skilled nursing facility. I am currently interning at Upstate Medical University (in Syracuse), previously with the palliative care unit and currently with inpatient psychiatric unit, where I find many intersections in aging, death, and dying. I strongly believe that all people, no matter their immigration or financial status, should have dignity when dying.

The aging and dying community are sometimes thrown to the side and viewed as a lost cause, but this is far from the truth. My academic interests lie in learning more about the aging, death, and dying population and how I can further engage and educate Latinx communities on the importance of preventative care and advanced care planning.

Q: What would like to say to the family of your scholarship sponsor, the late Jane Rockberger Bloom?

A: Navigating the post-undergraduate world can be difficult and confusing when there are a limited number of people in your community with graduate school experience. Being a first-generation college graduate, and a first-generation graduate student, fills me with immense pride.

I am so grateful that a portion of my financial burden for this academic year has been alleviated. I cannot accurately express my gratitude for this opportunity to continue to make my family and community proud. Thank you so much, and I will forever be grateful for your sponsorship!

Interested in a career in social work? Visit the School of Social Work webpage to learn more about its academic programs, experiential learning, and career opportunities. Visit the Awards and Scholarships webpage to learn more about the wide range of opportunities and awards that are available to Falk College students.

Those who would like to make a gift to the Jane Rockberger Bloom Social Scholarship in Refugee/Migration Services can make a secure gift online. To make a gift by check, please make it out to Syracuse University and mail to Falk College Advancement, 427 White Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244. If you have any questions, please contact David Salanger, Assistant Dean for Advancement and External Relations, at 315.443.4588 or, or Megan Myers, Director of Development, at 315.443.1817 or