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Upcoming events to celebrate ‘Social Work Month,’ ‘elevate’ profession

March 18, 2019

Dr. April Jones, Department of Social Work
Michael Tullier, APR, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing


Social Work "elevate" imageEvents at Tuskegee University this week and through the remainder of March will help highlight the ways in which social workers empower others and this year’s national Social Work Month theme of “Elevate Social Work.” The annual emphasis on social work in March is an effort of the National Association of Social Workers.

Activities planned by the Department of Social Work, a part of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, will inform the campus and surrounding communities about the crucial role social workers have played for more than a century in improving our society and empowering others so they live to their fullest potential.

“Students, faculty and staff in our Department of Social Work are excited about our upcoming programs, because they emphasize the tremendous value of social work in society, and how social workers improve the lives of individuals and families every day,” said Dr. April Jones, LMSW, head of the department. “The services social workers provide are needed now more than ever as our nation grapples with issues relating to income equality, opioid addiction, environmental concerns, and the continuing struggle for equal rights for all.”

Upcoming events, sponsored by the department and its Social Work Alliance Student Association, include:

  • Various dates: “Elevate Social Work: TU Alumni Speak Out,” Zoom conferencing panel presentations about non-traditional careers in social work, fourth-floor bioethics conference room in Kenney Hall, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 18, 20, 25, 27 and 28.
  • Tuesday, March 19: “How to Trace and Create your Family Genealogy,” presented by Nancy Dupree of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, 70-203 John A. Kenny Hall, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Through March 29, a food drive benefiting the university’s Tiger's Den Food Pantry; donations of non-perishable food and personal hygiene items (e.g. bottled water, canned or boxed food items, personal hygiene items, etc.) can be dropped off in the Tompkins Hall Dean of Students office; the department will formally present donations to the food pantry at 1 p.m. on March 29.

“The social work profession allows you to fight for people’s rights, protect the vulnerable, and support those who need support,” said Social Work Alliance president Y’Kirsha Davis. “It allows you to have a positive impact on others while giving you the opportunity to work with a varied and diverse group of people, and to learn and experience a multifaceted, consistently evolving career. It allows you to help empower others to solve their own problems, and to make a difference in individuals’ lives.

Jones pointed to the impact Tuskegee alumni have had as examples of the relevance of social workers in addressing society’s most critical needs and serving some of the nation’s must vulnerable populations — while also helping to better the university’s social work program:

  • Dr. Sebrena Mainor-Jackson ’93, founder of the National Enrichment Summer Program and program director of the University of Alabama MSW program, who funds an annual scholarship at Tuskegee benefitting undergraduate social work major students.
  • Darren Wallace ’91 of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General Office of Healthcare Inspections in the Comprehensive Healthcare Inspections program; as a VA health care inspector, he employs his social work skills by overseeing programs and operations at VA medical centers nationally. A member of the DeKalb County Georgia Tuskegee Alumni Club, he has also chaired the Tuskegee University Social Work Department Alumni Community Involvement Committee that meets on campus quarterly, and he funds an annual scholarship for social work students.
  • Mrs. Dorothy Jordan-Gaithers, who graduated in the 1940s and volunteered and worked for 43 years in various social service settings that included corrections, mental health and nonprofits. She and her family host annual fundraisers that provide scholarship support to social work students.

Jones pointed to Bureau of Labor Statistics data to demonstrate how social work continues to be one of the fastest growing careers in the nation, with more than 100,000 people expected to enter the field in just the next seven years. Social workers account for the largest group of mental health service providers in the United States, and the Veterans Administration is the largest employer of social workers with a master’s degree.

“You can find social workers literally everywhere in our society,” Jones noted. “For example, they are in schools helping students overcome life challenges so they can obtain the best possible education.

They’re in clinics, hospitals and mental health centers helping people recover, and in federal, state and local governments pushing for legislation and regulations to improve quality of life.”

Tuskegee University offers a course of study in the Department of Social Work that leads to a bachelor’s degree in social work. The department is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and is a member of the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors. Learn more on the department’s website. For more information about Social Work Month nationally, visit the National Association of Social Work’s website.

© 2019, Tuskegee University