Social Work Faculty and Students Receive Regional Awards

Faculty and students from Southern's School of Social Work were recently honored by the Tennessee chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) for excellence in their field.

Every year members of NASW submit names of individuals within the field of social work who they feel exemplify the best of the profession's values. For the past five years, a student in Southern's program has won the Bachelor's of Social Work Student of the Year award. Out of the six total awards presented to individuals in the southeast region of the NASW's Tennessee chapter, Southern representatives earned three.

Alyssa Velbis, senior social work major, was given the Bachelor's of Social Work Student of the Year award, Rebecca Peck, master's of social work, has been awarded the Master's of Social Work Student of the Year, and Evie Nogales Baker, associate professor of social work, has been named Social Worker of the Year.

"Having three members of our School receive these awards is important for the program because it is an affirmation that the students are being well prepared to perform as professional social workers in the community," said Lorri Merchant, associate professor of social work.

The two students who won awards this year credit a large amount of their success to Southern's social work program. Alyssa said that attending Southern has not only helped her grow academically, but spiritually as well.

"I made the right choice for great undergraduate and graduate social work programs when I chose Southern," Alyssa said. "I feel confident and empowered, not only as a student and professional, but also as a daughter of God."

In addition to its two students, the faculty and staff in the School of Social Work are thrilled to have one of their own be honored with the Social Worker of the Year award.

"Our department could not be more proud of Professor Baker," Merchant said. "Those she has worked with in the community praise her knowledge, her loving demeanor, and her professionalism."

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