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Monthly Archives: November 2015

On this special day of thanks, The College of Social Work is grateful for the spirit of philanthropy exemplified by our advocates, friends, and alumni who believe in our mission.  Your gifts not only impact the lives of our students, but the individuals, families, and communities they will serve throughout their careers.  Through scholarship support, you lessen the burden of financial debt to allow our students to follow their innate calling—to be the change in the world.  To that, we say THANK YOU!

 

Jason Fullen isn’t your typical student pursuing a master’s in social work. His undergraduate degree isn’t even in social work; it’s in music, from New York University. But despite having no formal background in the field, he always seemed to exemplify the best qualities of a social worker, spending his free time at NYU working on service projects, alternative-break trips, and volunteer activities.

After graduating, Fullen had the chance to pursue his passion for service by working as a high school social studies teacher in rural North Carolina through Teach for America. A two-year program, Teach for America places college grads in underserved communities around the country. That’s the simple definition, but for Fullen the experience was so much more. It clarified his purpose and focused his career aspiration – to improve the quality of education in impoverished areas. In short, it changed his life.

During his time in North Carolina, Fullen saw firsthand how some students struggled to succeed in the classroom because of issues outside of it. The topic is near to his heart and why he feels so strongly that educational policies need to be improved to support students not only at school but beyond. To that end, Fullen is pursuing dual master’s degrees in social work and public administration. “I want to be able to give students of disadvantaged populations the type of opportunities that I have had in my life,” he says.

Fullen has enjoyed his time as a Buckeye, and a favorite memory was serving as grad adviser for a Buck-I-Serv trip to New York City. The group worked with a homeless shelter, an organization that helps disabled populations, and a foster center that assists teenagers. “It was an amazing chance to show my students the importance of service and what it might be like to pursue a service-oriented career,” he says. “It was my way of giving back, because service opportunities such as Buck-I-Serv helped me get my start in social work.”

Now in his last year at Ohio State, Fullen appreciates all the opportunities he has had here. Besides learning from world-class professors, interning at influential organizations and taking part in service trips, Fullen was given one of the best gifts any student could have — a scholarship.

“The biggest thing about this scholarship is that the gift isn’t just supporting me,” he says. “It is ultimately supporting all the people and communities I hope to impact during my life.”

Written by: Dinu Godage, ACE Student Intern, Social Work

The Ohio State University College of Social Work is immensely grateful for the tireless work of our alumni, faculty, staff, students, friends and supporters, and all who advocate for the advancement of civil rights in this country and abroad. On this Day of Thanks, we celebrate diversity and encourage all of you to continue to Be The Change the world needs.

 

OSU alumni Joel and Craig Diaz were with friends at a crowded Union Café in the Short North, where news programs blared from a dozen TVs scattered around the bar. It was June 26, 2015, the day the U.S. Supreme Court would announce its ruling on same-sex marriage, a day they hoped would be historic.Weddingparty

The mood in the bar was electric if understandably cautious. While the nation’s attitudes were clearly shifting on the issue — 37 states now allowed same-sex marriage — federal appeals courts were divided over whether states were constitutionally obligated to do so. That would be decided today.

“We knew there was a good chance that it would go in our favor,” Joel recalls, “but there was still that shadow of doubt.”

When the court announced its ruling, the cafe erupted in cheers. By a 5-4 vote, the justices held that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage; the ban that Ohio and other states had tried so hard to keep intact was invalidated. The victory, so long in coming, was finally here.

“We were in the room with people who were involved in the struggle since the ‘80s,” Joel says. “It was remarkable.”

Despite the hugs and tears of joy all around them, for Joel and Craig the day was bittersweet.

Both had been enrolled at Ohio State for several years before their paths crossed in 2011, when they met at a friend’s birthday party. Fast forward to April 2014.  Joel proposes, but as he and Craig go about planning their wedding, they realize that prospects of getting a marriage license are limited. With the political climate on same-sex marriage uncertain in the United States, they look to Spain — where equal marriage has been legal since 2006 — and plan a fall wedding in the Mediterranean beach resort of Sitges. Still, their wish for an Ohio marriage license, and their dismay at knowing they have no legal standing to get one, is never far out of mind.

Though too late for Joel and Craig, the landmark Supreme Court decision changes all of that. They acknowledge the progress the country has made on LGBT issues and recognize the struggles of the men and women who made it happen.

“We’re still relatively young,” Craig says, “but for those who have gone their entire lives fighting for this, we’re so appreciative of their work.”

Hearts and minds have begun to change, but the LGBT community continues to face significant obstacles. As active members in the national Human Rights Campaign and advocates in local efforts to advance LGBT rights, Joel and Craig cite employment, housing and workplace discrimination as tremendous barriers to equality. They are especially concerned with rights of transgender people, both in the U.S. and abroad.

“The LGB part of LGBT definitely has a difficult time, but the T is often overlooked,” Joel says. “Fighting for their rights is a crucial next step.”

Adds Craig, “I agree. I also believe we really need to re-focus our energy on the health care of our community and address well-being, specifically with LGBT youth. So many of us navigate these waters with little to no support.”

Colin Winter, a BSSW student, is the College of Social Work’s Student Veteran Advocate. If you are a veteran or family member and you are in need of help, you can contact Colin at winter.94@osu.edu.

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