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Monthly Archives: September 2020

Governor Mike DeWine Appoints Gregoire to Ohio Recovery Board

Congratulations to Dean Tom Gregoire on his appointment by Governor Mike DeWine to the OneOhio Recovery Foundation governing board. Gregoire was one of only five people appointed by Governor DeWine for this exemplary honor and will be a tremendous asset to the foundation board. The Foundation will distribute a portion of the settlement funds from the drug manufacturers and distributors of opioids to communities in Ohio. To read more about this significant accomplishment, click here.

Additionally, Gregoire, Lisa Durham and Steve David were also one of seven Ohio State research teams awarded nearly $1.4 million through the President’s Research Excellence Catalyst Grant Program. Both from the College of Social Work, Durham serves as assistant dean of strategic initiatives and community engagement and David as advocacy director. The research team will address societal challenges related to food, water, health, racial equity and inclusion and national security. For more information, click here.

For more information about Gregoire, click here.

2020, 2021 Hall of Fame Inductees Honored Homecoming Weekend

Each year, the College of Social Work honors alumni who have gone above and beyond to make a difference in the world. These leaders were nominated by our alumni—more than 13,500 social workers living in the United States and abroad. Please join us in honoring these inspiring ambassadors.

2020 Alumni Hall of Fame Inductees

2020 Alumni Hall of Fame Inductees

2021 Alumni Hall of Fame Inductees

2021 Alumni Hall of Fame Inductees

This fall, due to COVID-19 in 2020, the college recognized honorees from both 2020 and 2021. The luncheon was held Friday, October 8, 2021 at the Fawcett Center.

The Student Perspective: Matthew Tippit


AREA OF EMPHASIS: Mental Health and Substance Misuse

HOMETOWN: Columbus, OH

SCHOLARSHIP AWARDED: Social Work Minority Scholarship Fund, Folds Family Endowment Fund for the Benefit of the College of Social Work

My scholarships mean the world to me. They have provided me with something even more valuable than the monetary value they hold. Confidence. Even though I completed my undergraduate degree, I still often find myself struggling with imposter syndrome and having the backing of my College helps remind me that I earned the right to be in the spaces I occupy now.

Even though I am in the Grad program now, I have to show love to my favorite BSSW class. Engagement and Interviewing made me grow not only academically but it made the quiet sophomore I was at the time, talk to people and make friends. My favorite grad class has been either Social Work and Law or Motivational Interviewing. Motivational Interviewing really helped expand upon the foundation of interviewing I learned in undergrad and Social Work and Law helped build a new foundation for the career goals I have now.

I didn’t realize I wanted to pursue Social Work until I was already knee deep into the BSSW program. I found Social Work through my interest in psychology and mental health, to make a long story less long, a mentor of mine pointed me toward Social Work instead of psych. This turned out to be great advice because once I got into Social Work and saw all of the possibilities, I realized it was the field for me.

My investment in Social Work has grown immensely since the pandemic, and it is mostly due to the experiences I am having in my current field placement. I am working in the Ohio House of Representatives which has exposed me to so much more than I would have expected. Seeing the impact that the pandemic has had on our constituents has shown me how much more support is needed in our communities and seeing the state government from the inside has shown me that there needs to be so many more Social Workers in the legislature.

Right now, I don’t really have a dream job because I don’t know if there is a job that will allow me to do the work that I want to. One of my main goals is helping to remove the stigma of mental health in the Black community. This goal would be perfect for direct practice, but I have realized that clinical work is likely not for me. Luckily, I have a second goal and job idea that would help me work on my first goal too. I truly believe on leaving places better than you found them and that’s what I want to do for this state and country. Because of that, I think that legislative work is my best option and hopefully holing an elected office one day. Even with that in mind I hesitate to say dream job because I’ve learned how complicated elections can be and know that I may never reach that goal.

Picking my favorite thing about the College is easy. The people. The College has such a welcoming feel as soon as you step in the door and that’s because everyone in the building is caring and just wants you to succeed. I don’t think that there is another place in the world that has as many amazing people as The College of Social Work.

The Student Perspective: Rebecca Frances Ready

PROGRAM: MSW, Year 3 of 4

AREA OF EMPHASIS: Child and Youth Services – School Social Work

HOMETOWN: Church Point, Louisiana

SCHOLARSHIP AWARDED:  The Erika, Andra, and Inara Brubaker Endowed Scholarship Fund for Academic Excellence in Domestic Violence and Child Welfare in the College of Social Work

Being the recipient of this scholarship means a great deal to me. First, it is an affirmation that I am in the right field and also recognition of the hard work I put into my education. Also, this scholarship means that the dreams I have for the future are attainable, and relieves an extra burden of school cost from my plate so that I may focus more on my studies and also focus more energy into the parts of social work I am passionate about. This scholarship is centered on the things I am most interested and dedicated to in the social work field which is the welfare of children, preventing violence in families, and helping maximize the potentials of families who have hit challenges.

In all honesty, I have thoroughly enjoyed my course work in the MSW program so far. I have learned a ton of valuable and applicable information, but I also feel like I’ve expanded my mind and approach for social work as well. If I had to narrow it down, Engaging the Profession with Sue Bobson, MSW and also Clinical Social Work (Child and Adolescents) with David Grove LISW-S were my favorite overall social work courses that I have taken. These classes molded the skills of actually doing micro social work of assessment and working with clients to overcome issues. These classes challenged and grew me the most as a social worker, but also were the most informative classes. The professors were also great and passionate about use becoming adequate social workers for children and their families.

My undergraduate degree is in Strategic Communication and Sociology. I was always interested in the possibility of getting a masters in counseling, social work or education while in undergrad. I believe that in my soul, I always wanted to pursue social work since I was 16, due to the life circumstances I faced, and the gaps in justice I saw in the world around me especially for children. My sisters, Annie and Anita, always felt like I would change the world through advocating for justice and working in a helping profession. They wanted me to pursue graduate school after undergrad. Unfortunately, my mother died by suicide after a 5 year battle with illness my last semester of undergrad. This event change my life course, taught and grew me as a human, and I believe walking through my mom’s illness and death with her and my family, molded me to be a better social worker and person of great empathy. I took a few years away from school and pursuing my dreams and goals to support my family and work through the hardships I faced. A few years after completing my undergrad, while on a my second mission trip to Romania, to serve the Roma children is when I knew it was time for me to move towards the calling of social work. My best friend and Mission Roomie, Kat Faul, talked with me for hours after working with the children one night. She saw my passion and zeal for underserved children and encouraged me to go for it and apply to my dream graduate school. Here I am today 3 years later at The Ohio State University College of Social Work pursuing my MSW.

This pandemic has been a learning curve for everyone. The isolation and loneliness of this time that I see in people, including children has been difficult. I especially believe it is a big learning curve in the area of education. In our society schools provide far more than just an education, and schools are a location children and youth spend at least 8 hours a day for 180 days a year. With schools shutting down, we saw the immense value schools hold in meeting the needs of students. I am pursuing school social work, and this pandemic has shown me how to get creative in contacting and reaching families, as well as, how to meet the needs of students despite the challenges around us. During the shutdown of 2020 I volunteered with United Way of Acadiana here in Lafayette, LA to distribute food to families with school aged children. That’s a huge need that schools meet for students (Breakfast and Lunch) here, that when the schools closed these needs must be met. Knowing these resources and needs of families in the area and how the school plays a pivotal role in distributing resources and meeting needs is essential for social workers.

I want to work with children and families. I would love to be a school social worker, who trains and motivates faculty and staff on meeting the needs of children. I am especially interested in Trust Based Relational Intervention to help students who have high ACE scores and have experienced trauma. As a school social worker, I would want to work with students proactively to meet needs and understand the whys behind behavior and academic issues and work to overcome the challenges they face. BIG DREAM would work with after school programs to help bridge gaps in low economic areas for both students and their families.

I am also a Suicide Prevention and Awareness advocate, doing volunteer work in my community for an issue that I am very passionate about and hits close to home is important to me.

I have a big passion for students who are in foster care, and those who will age out of foster care. Working with this population and helping support them and meet their needs so that they have the opportunity to thrive in society is very important to me, and I believe will always be a part of my work even if it is more on a volunteer basis.


In my heart I have always been a Buckeye. Even though I grew up in South Louisiana, I’ve always bled scarlet and gray. My favorite thing in life is relatability and inclusion, which The Ohio State College of Social Work provides for me. As a distance learner, there are certain challenges that arise, but I have never felt far away from help and support. From my application to the college and meeting with a staff member on site of what the process will be, to my professors, field placement team, and everyone has been readily available to me and also cheering me on to success. The college is never more than a ZOOM meeting away, and always takes the time to make sure my needs are met. Dean Tom Gregoire and the faculty of the college of social work share their stories and passion for social work and change. Knowing that the professors I have are social workers and truly care about the issues society is facing is not only encouraging, but the reason I chose Ohio State for graduate school. I always feel like I can share my story and my vision, and not be judged, but supported. The college not only supports us as future social workers finding our paths, they team up alongside of us to make our dreams a reality.

New Gregoire Fund Supports Addiction and Recovery

“What happens to people with addiction disorders? Some people in recovery become deans at The Ohio State University College of Social Work. I share this with you to combat stigma. As you see me, please see just one of millions who are evidence that treatment works and recovery happens.”

Never one to draw attention to himself, in this rare moment during a speech, Dean Tom Gregoire uses his own addiction struggles and 42 years of sobriety to emphasize the importance and success of effective treatment and recovery.

It is in this same spirit that the College of Social Work introduces the A.T. “Greg” and Charlotte Gregoire Fund in Addiction and Recovery Scholarship to support College of Social Work students in recovery from substance use disorders and students pursuing a career in the addictions field. As Tom’s tenure comes to an end, this scholarship honors his loving parents.

When Tom accepted the challenge to lead the College of Social Work in 2010, he continued his mission to advance the understanding of addiction — one of society’s most vexing social problems. His research focuses on access to substance misuse treatment and treatment among vulnerable populations. It includes a plethora of peer-reviewed publications, principal investigator roles on research projects and teaching classes. The new Gregoire scholarship will transform his research interests into the lives of students.

As Tom often notes, addiction is a chronic illness characterized by profound and seemingly permanent changes in the brain structure that leave an individual permanently vulnerable to the influence of drugs and alcohol. There is no cure, but just like other diseases, when managed well on a long-term basis, people recover and live healthy lives. When people relapse, it is usually because there are not sufficient long-term treatment and support systems available. And that is where the training, education and support of College of Social Work students has its greatest impact.

By contributing to the A.T. “Greg” and Charlotte Gregoire Fund in Addiction and Recovery Scholarship, you will be supporting Tom’s dedication to addressing addiction and recovery.

Give to Fund #483760 online at

Introducing Career Chatter

The Office of Career Services is hosting monthly Career Chatters, highlighting alumni and their social work careers. The purpose of these virtual events is to give students and alumni an opportunity to learn more about different fields of social work and the roles of individual social workers.

Our September feature was alumnus, Kenneth Murray, a BSSW graduate and retired public defender for individuals on death row. During Murray’s event, he discussed how he used his social work knowledge and skills to prepare cases and support clients. Murray also shared the importance of having social workers in the law.

Our upcoming features will include alumni careers in private practice, behavioral health and mentorship.

To learn more about our upcoming Career Chatters please visit our website at If you would like to be featured in one of these virtual forums, please email

CSW Tailgate Filled with Food, Friends, Fun

Plenty of Buckeye fans woke up early to kick off this year’s Ohio State Homecoming game against Maryland on October 9. From Brutus and breakfast, to face painting and cheers, CSW Buckeyes rocked the 2021 tailgate. A good time was had by all!

PhD Student Kaitlin Casassa Featured by The Healthy!

Congratulations to PhD student Kaitlin Casassa, LISW!

She was featured in this must-read article by The Healthy, which focuses on trauma bonding and highlights her work with survivors of trafficking.

Read the full story here.

Ohio State Adding Full-Time Social Worker to Help Housing-Vulnerable

Short North neighborhood in Columbus, OhioIn an effort to provide more support for those who are housing-vulnerable in the off-campus area, Ohio State is adding a full-time social worker with a special focus on North High Street.

Students at the CSW will also receive invaluable field experience with this new addition.

“Our students will benefit greatly from this initiative and get a personal view of the issues that can lead to housing vulnerability,” said Dean Tom Gregoire.

You can read the full article here.

Like Moira Like Daughter

Born into Social Work: Like Moira like Daughter

CSW Alumnus (MSW ’18) and her mother Moira Dugan (BSSW ’87) discuss their social work values and appreciation for The Ohio State College of Social Work.

“Growing up with those values that were very much social work values guided me on what would be most important in a career.”

CSW Alumnus (MSW ’18) Emily Bango is as close as it comes to being born into the social work profession. From a small age, Emily felt compelled to help others, assuming she would ultimately become a teacher; however, she also felt herself interested in addressing systems as a whole. What led her to strive for this ambitious level of social change at such a young age? A mother who walked an almost identical path three decades prior.

After obtaining her BSSW from The Ohio State College of Social Work in 1987, Emily’s mother Moira received her MSW from The University of Pittsburgh. As one of nine children, Moira also developed her passion for helping others at a young age. Her older brother was born with developmental disabilities, which meant she spent a significant portion of her life acting as a caregiver, witnessing the care he received from professionals, and interacting with others like him. This fueled her passion to work in behavioral health and pursue a career where she could support individuals with physical and developmental disabilities. In the last 30 years, Moira has worked in healthcare, geriatrics and the mental health space. For the last 24 years she has worked in home health care for The Cleveland Clinic and most recently begun operating a private practice part-time.

Because her husband is also a mental health professional, Moira always instinctively felt that her children would follow a similar path.

“Our kids were born into an awareness of social justice,” she noted, reflecting on their influence on her children. “With Emily, my husband and I both encouraged her to go the social work route because of the vast options she could work under as well as the variety of work she could do.”

Emily is equally grateful for the passions she shares with her parents.

“Growing up with those values that were very much social work values guided me on what would be most important in a career. Just having my mom (and my dad too) there as a role model or resource makes a huge difference. Having somebody there to answer questions is super helpful and has made things a lot easier.”

Emily’s passion is community development and advocacy. She currently works for Providence House Crisis Nursery in Cleveland, an organization that focuses on family preservation by supporting children (ages 0–12) by providing them a safe place to stay while supporting parents navigate various crises.. Long-term she plans to remain flexible and open to different roles in community engagement. More than anything, her focus is to continue to provide support and opportunities to the children and families that need it the most.

With slightly different career paths, Moira and Emily are in agreement about one thing: they are both extremely grateful for the knowledge and mentorship they received from CSW faculty and staff.

Moira recalls one particularly influential professor, “The woman who taught our geriatric class worked for the governor in the geriatric program (as the Ohio Director of Aging) and started the PASSPORT program. The fact that our teacher had this amazing experience working within the government was so inspiring. I still feel like our professors were top-notch.”

“For me it’s been the mix of knowledge of both theory and applied practice because my professors have had really good knowledge and experience.” Emily noted, “You know that they have practiced what they teach.”

Starr in the Making

MSW Graduate (’21) Starr Davis, and her parents (both CSW Alumni) reflect on their parallel pathways to a career in social work.

As a Buckeye, there is nothing more special than having a parent that also graduated from Ohio State. For ASAP student Starr Davis, she is twice as lucky, having two parents who not only attended Ohio State, but are also graduates of the College of Social Work, just like herself.

Through the invitation to participate in the 2019 Summer Research Opportunities Program, was paired with Dr. Michelle Johnson-Motoyama, associate professor in the College of Social Work. She was introduced to many staff and faculty members which helped solidify her decision to choose OSU. Having this experience influenced her desire to engage in research projects and internships that explore diversity and inclusion issues as well as equitable community engagement.

When reflecting on what drives her passion for social work, Starr had this to say, “I love interacting with people. I like listening to people and I like talking. [In social work}, not only do you get to talk to people, but you get to work with them to find solutions.”

In addition to her own deeply rooted passion for social change, Starr also admits being heavily influenced by her parents, both of whom have had over three decades of experience successfully working in the social work field.

Her mother, Dr. Desiree Davis has had an interest in social work since she was 15 years old. Her mother and father were foster parents, which inspired her to pursue her BSW from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. From there, she obtained her MSW from The Ohio State University in 1990. Dr. Davis has spent the majority of her career working in both medical social work and clinical mental health practice. She obtained her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Andrews University in 2017 where she is an associate professor of social work in the School of Social Work and BSW Program Director. Dr. Davis has been on faculty at Andrews University since 2011.

Starr’s father, Dr. Oliver Davis, obtained his MSW from Ohio State in 1992 and his Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) from USC in 2019. He also has a certification in Political Science Work from University of Michigan and Business Management from The University of Notre Dame. Dr. Davis was also introduced to the social work profession at a young age. During his senior year of high school, a social work professor spoke to him about the benefits of the profession, and it aligned with his own personal values. After that, his mentor, who opened the first foster care home in Alabama, expressed similar sentiments, which confirmed social work as the right career path for his life.

Dr. Davis has worked as a private practice mental health professional; however, he’s also worked as a school social worker in South Bend, IN. Dr. Davis also served on the South Bend Common (City) Council for 12 years, the Transportation Board for 16 years and has chaired the Zoning Commission. He previously taught social work at Indiana University and is now Adjunct Faculty at Brandman University in Irvine, California and St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.

With parents so fiercely committed to social change, it should come as no surprise that Starr has chosen to embark on a similar journey.

“I thought she would make a good social worker. I’ve always felt that she had a heart for people and working for people. When she was 11 or 12, she had this thing about ‘everything being fair,” her mother recalled.

Starr is keenly aware of the influence her parents have had on her education.

“I’ve been very fortunate. I only have one other friend who has a parent who is a social worker. If I have a problem, issue or case, my solution is only one call away. I literally use a lot of my dad’s examples in my class about his work in the school system.”

Beyond their respective passions, Starr and her parents also share a strong appreciation for the faculty and staff at the College of Social Work.

“It has been different than what I imagined, but I really feel valued and appreciated. I really love my professors and the material I have been taught this year”, Starr elaborates on her time at Ohio State.

Starr’s father also reflected on his most cherished connections, “I stayed in contact with [my field instructor Charlotte Osterman] until she passed. Having Charlotte from 1991-2017 was very important, as was staying in contact with her and her connections. Students don’t have to start from square one when they can utilize the experience of instructors. Also, Brenda Davidson – she said she would take care of Starr and I said I know because you took care of me.”

All Paths Lead to Social Work

CSW Alumnus, Donor and Campaign Committee Member Michael O’Sullivan draws the connections between social work, all careers, and healing for our society.

With an impressive career that spans the last 40 years, to say Michael O’Sullivan (MSW ’80) is experienced in leadership, public service and philanthropy would be an understatement. In high school he aspired to be in the “helping” profession and since then he has gone on to hold leadership positions at the United Way, Ohio Health, Nationwide Children’s’ and Riverside Methodist Hospital. He’s also held positions on numerous philanthropic boards in the Columbus community.

Having learned and accomplished so much in a variety of settings, the one place he holds so much faith and hope: the social work profession.

Having obtained his MSW in 1980, O’Sullivan reflects on the evolution the field, “Over the years, it’s probably much broader then when I was school. Social work education is an excellent preparation for a lot of different functions in society. One thing it’s particularly important for is anybody who has gone into careers in almost any type of social service.”

O’Sullivan continues to expand on the relevance of social work to a particularly timely issue in American society: policing.

“The combination between social work and law/criminal justice is extremely important.

We need more law enforcement who look more like social workers and less like armed combatants. There could be a strong benefit to social workers partnering with criminal justice programs.”

But to O’Sullivan, the connection doesn’t stop with criminal justice.

I’ve seen social workers be very effective in the C-Suite. I’ve seen them do trainings where they challenge an organization to truly become a team and tell them some things they didn’t want to hear. Not all social work is sympathetic – sometimes confrontation and disagreement are necessary. I think a social worker that is equipped to do that in an effective way is the training that our society desperately needs.”

Beyond its applicability to a multitude of careers, O’Sullivan also believes that social work education and training are the keys to healing our society. “We are missing kindness. We are missing tolerance. We are missing understanding. We are missing civility. I think that social work has a role to play in all of those areas.”

With such passion, it should come as no surprise that O’Sullivan continues to be an extremely loyal donor and supporter of the College.

Reflecting on this level of engagement, he notes, “The College [of Social Work] imparts knowledge, as well as an ethical system and a value system that’s so important. I want to make sure that we continue teaching those kinds of values. I think we need them more than we ever have.”

Beyond just education, O’Sullivan is equally enthusiastic about his experience at the College, and the inspiration he has received from leaders over the years.

“I wouldn’t have taken the career path I had if it wasn’t for [Dr. Milt Rosner). He saw something in me that I didn’t see in me. I’m also so supportive of Dean Gregoire. He really has done a tremendous job of leading the college over the past decade. If Tom asks me to do something, I’m happy to do it.”

Channeling the advice from previous mentors, O’Sullivan had some final thoughts for current students and social work professionals:

“When you look at my resume it looks like this perfect progression of achievement. He has never had any failures. He’s never done anything wrong. He has all these fancy titles. That’s absolutely not true. I’m an expert at failure. I’ve made hordes of mistakes.”

Elaborating on this advice, particularly appropriate for such uncertain times, O’Sullivan encourages all to remember, “When you are starting out…don’t be afraid to make a mistake. You don’t have to do everything perfectly. You pick yourself back up and keep on trying. Keep on moving. My feeling is that that is something the College of Social Work is able to impart.”

PhD Candidate Pence Selected for CSWE, SSWR, GADE Cohort

Congratulations to PhD candidate Erica Pence who has been selected for the 2021 cohort of the Doctoral Student Policy Forum through the Council on Social Work Education, Society for Social Work and Research, and Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work.

Pence was among a competitive pool of applicants and  chosen by the selection committee because of her exceptional skills, experience, and enthusiasm for developing policy skills.

To learn more about Pence, click here.

Statement on Transgender and Gender Equality

The Ohio State University College of Social Work is in solidarity with transgender and gender diverse children, adolescents, and adults. As social workers and scholars, we promote social justice for vulnerable populations through high-quality research and evidence-based practice. Read the full statement from the college.

PhD Student Named Sole Ohio State Representative on National Gerontology Board

Congratulations to PhD student Cherrie Park who has been selected as The Ohio State University’s only student representative on the Association on Gerontology Education in Social Work (AGESW) Board.

AGESW is the only national gerontological social work organization in the United States. Park was chosen amidst a wide number of talented PhD students, including those from the University of Michigan and University of Southern California. 

AGESW is best known for overseeing the Journal of Gerontological Social Work, Hartford Pre-Dissertation Scholars Awards, and its annual awards given during the Gerontological Society of America conference.

Park’s participation on the board will not only be significant for her professional development but will also be a great opportunity for the College of Social Work.

For more information about Park, click here.

Alumnus Ingram, MSW Student Peak Highlighted in Spring Ohio State Alumni Magazine

Congratulations to alumnus Joe Ingram (MSW ’20) and MSW student Demondre Peak (left) who were both featured in the latest spring Ohio State Alumni Magazine on page 36.

In the article, Ingram discusses the important impact the university’s Young Scholars Program played in his school and personal life. The program influenced him to establish Men of Our H.O.O.D., a development series for underrepresented high school boys that seeks to normalize literacy and emphasizes education as an important pillar of development and growth at the early transition phase of boyhood to manhood. Last year, Ingram was named a “graduate student to watch” by Ohio State’s Office of Student Life before he graduated.

Peak, in addition to acknowledging the Young Scholars Program’s positive influence, also discusses his leadership in Men of Our H.O.O.D., and the opportunity to give often overlooked Black males the tools they need to be successful before and during college. Imparting wisdom and life skills to young men who might otherwise not have these resources available is a primary focus of the series.

Peak and Ingram met through the Young Scholars Program and are both first generation college students.

To check out the complete story, read the PDF or online version.


CSW New American Scholarship: Social Work Students Committed to Serving Refugees in Central Ohio & Abroad

Among some of our country’s most vulnerable, and marginalized, populations are New Americans. Specific to central Ohio, our immigrant and refugee residents are essential to the diversity and vitality of the city and remain critical to the social and economic development we all desire for our community.  That said, there are severe gaps in the resources available to serve these individuals.

To address this need, as well as the needs of Ohio State’s student population of New Americans, the College of Social Work developed the New American Scholarship in 2020. This scholarship is awarded to a College of Social Work undergraduate or graduate student who is willing to make a commitment to work with New American communities in Central Ohio.

The College of Social Work was proud to award the scholarship to two students in 2020: Jhuma Acharya and Fatoumata Bah. Both demonstrate a lifelong commitment to social work and a strong desire to cultivate supportive environments for refugees and immigrants in central Ohio and beyond.

Jhuma Acharya

Jhuma Acharya came to the United States in 2010 after spending 20 years living in a refugee camp in Nepal. At the young age of 14, after realizing he could use his time to make an impact, he began teaching younger children in the camp.  After obtaining his Bachelor’s in Zoology and a Master of Science from University in Nepal, he moved to the United States in 2011, settling in Columbus in 2012, where he began working for a refugee program at Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS).

“I can correlate my pain on my refugee journey with other refugees I work with”

In 2019, Jhuma was accepted into the Master of Social Work Program at Ohio State. While completing his program, he has continued his work in the community, frequently acting as a translator between residents and community programs in his spare time. As a Board Member for the Bhutanese Community of Central Ohio, Jhuma has spent his time finding solutions to barriers in education, healthcare, transportation and more. For Jhuma, 2020 also meant supporting individuals through the COVID-19 pandemic and working tirelessly on voter education and registration.

In addition to school and his work in the community, Jhuma has a family of his own to provide for. After contemplating the financial stress of managing it all, Jhuma had decided to take a break from school. Then came the news that he had been awarded the New American Scholarship from the College of Social Work.

“Living with an hourly work salary and going to school is hard to manage financially. This helps me to literally put dinner on the table. I can take care of my son and family needs.” Jhuma noted, reflecting on his gratitude for the scholarship. “If this scholarship was not offered, I was planning to take a break. It made my dream come true I can graduate in time. I graduate in May. I’m so thankful for the donors and college for making this scholarship available to me.”

After graduation in May, Jhuma plans to pursue a PhD in Social Work, with the ultimate goal of researching how to create environments for refugees that will allow for healthier lives overall.

“I also want to be able to provide a donation back to the college. It is a miracle for me and to be a recipient of this award is the best thing.”

Fatoumata Bah

Fatoumata Bah immigrated to the United States from Guinea when she was just five years old. At 19, she’s now enrolled in the 4+1 program at the College of Social Work where she plans to earn both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. As a fairly new student, Fatoumata has remained exceptionally engaged and is a member of the Anti-Human Trafficking Club, a Global Ambassador, an honors student, and an International Affairs Scholars.

Fatoumata reflected on her CSW experience, “I like how the college is very inclusive, but they take it a step further than the other departments because of the profession. They are always head of the game when it comes to human rights and inclusivity.”

While passionate about helping others navigate trauma, Fatoumata is also hoping to use her degree to help educate New Americans, and even those in her home country, about mental wellness.

“We don’t have any words to describe mental illness in my native language. The only word that even comes close is ‘crazy’. So, when I tried to explain my anxiety to my parents they didn’t understand. I want to bring awareness to this problem so that others within my community can recognize and get help for their mental health concerns without feeling shame.”

Being awarded the scholarship has been instrumental to Fatoumata’s academic and professional goals, allowing her the time to focus on internships that are more aligned with social work interests.

“I am really thankful that I got [the scholarship] and I definitely want to give more of my time towards immigrant populations. I went through the whole college application process by myself and my stress got to the point where I had a nervous breakdown.”

After obtaining her MSW, Fatoumata wants to attend medical school to become an OBGYN. From there, her ultimate goal is to return to her community Guinea and open up a clinic for women that prioritizes physical and mental wellness.

Meet The President: DaVonti’ Haynes On How All Alumni Can Benefit from Alumni Society Membership

Since its charter nearly 50 years ago, The Social Work Alumni Society has remained committed to uplifting the goals and missions of The Ohio State University and College of Social Work, while also providing opportunities for alumni fellowship and support.

Current president, DaVonti’ Haynes (MSW, 2018), who began serving on the Executive Committee during his first year in the MSW program, is not only deeply passionate about The College of Social Work but also fiercely committed to growing the scope and legacy of the Alumni Society.

“Our greatest achievement has always been the scholarship that we give out to current social work students every year,” Haynes reflected, “but I also know how critical it is for students to be able to network and really see the wide range of professional spaces social work alumni end up working in.”

For social work students, membership in the Alumni Society is automatic upon graduation. That said, Haynes encourages alumni to sign-up for the Elite Stillman Membership, which is available to anybody who makes a $25 donation to the CSW Fund. Elite members not only receive special invitations to alumni and networking events, but they are also granted two free Continuation Education Training Sessions (CEU’s).

“If you are a licensed social worker you have to have a certain amount of CEU credits, and so to get two free is a great opportunity. This is something you would typically have to pay for.” Haynes said, reflecting on the benefits of membership.

Beyond networking, for Haynes being an engaged alumnus also means giving back to the Ohio State scholarships and programs that were instrumental to his success as a student.

“As a current student and also a donor, the programs I give back to are ones that I personally benefited from. I know how much I got out of it and how much it helped me on my journey. Being able to give back to students is something I’m personally interested in, but it’s also kind of our world as social workers.” Haynes noted.

“I also don’t know if a lot of donors know the vast amount of funds that exist at Ohio State and within the College.”

As a full-time employee and third year Ph.D. candidate, Haynes is more than familiar with the stressors that come with working in the social work field. Nevertheless, he feels strongly that engagement with organizations like The Alumni Society are worth the investment of time and effort.

“We’re actively recruiting. The Board is open to all alumni regardless of whether you are a recent graduate or not. It’s not only a great way to connect back to the College, but it’s also an educational experience to be able to work closely with and learn from so many CSW alumni from over the years.”

Despite the pandemic, the Executive Committee remains optimistic about where the Alumni Society will go in 2021. In addition to increasing and diversifying board membership, Haynes is also hopeful that Ohio State’s 2021 Homecoming Celebration can become an exciting opportunity to recruit new members.

Thinking of his peers in the field and the challenges that lie ahead, Haynes offered one piece of advice that (unintentionally) demonstrates another unspoken benefit of Alumni Society membership: a supportive-home base for social workers committed to tackling the most overwhelming and complex problems our society has to offer.

“Be interruptible: be flexible and willing to have your normal plan be interrupted – learn to be okay with going with the flow.”

To learn more about The Social Work Alumni Society or to become an Elite Stillman Member, visit

Men of Our H.O.O.D.: Ohio State Alumni Develop School-Based Non-Profit for Young Black Men in Columbus

Nearly 40 years ago in Newark, New Jersey, four young black men made a pact that despite any life obstacles and challenges, they would all become doctors. This agreement became the basis for The Pact, a book chronicling their journey from high school to medical school graduation.

Just over three years ago in Columbus, six recent graduates and Ohio State Young Scholars, made a similar promise: that they would become successful no matter what life threw their way. One of those men was Joe Ingram (MSW, 2020) – two-time graduate of Ohio State and Co-Founder/Co-Executive Director of Men of Our H.O.O.D.

Shortly after graduating with his MSW, Ingram and his Co-Founder/Co-Executive Director Demondre Peak (current MSW student) sat down to have an informal discussion about their life experiences and the gaps in support that exist for young black boys. Out of this conversation – Men of Our H.O.O.D. (Helping Ourselves Obtain Dignity) was born.

Rooted in group dialogue, book discussions and experiential learning, Men of Our H.O.O.D. was officially launched in July of 2020. The program is aimed at engaging high-school freshmen, with plans for them to grow with the curriculum until graduation. Weekly facilitated conversations, centered on a specific book, take place for 10 weeks. During this time program leaders will prioritize the following: critical thinking and analysis, normalizing literacy, identity development, cultural awareness and empathy, leadership development and educational access.

Ingram and Peak also plan to implement monthly experiential learning and travel, to higher education institutions and trade schools, giving youth the opportunity to explore a variety of professional tracks post-graduation. The pilot cohort, and freshmen students, will begin with a group discussion of The Pact, a story that aims to be both relatable and inspiring to many of the program participants.

While still fairly new, both Ingram and Peak have a clear long-term vision for the organization. Reflecting on the goals, Peak said, “I want to see us developing a pipeline of taking young men who are in a school system that doesn’t support their success, to achieving post-secondary success or education.”

Ingram’s vision for his students is similar: “My biggest thing is cultivating graduates who know where they are going in their next steps. I also want to see at least 90% of our participants graduate from high school.”

While meaningful, this work is not without its challenges. Many young black men, especially those in poverty, are faced with a myriad of challenges on the daily basis. From food insecurity to neighborhood violence and trauma, the student’s environments play a tremendous role in their ability to think critically about their future, especially in the long-term. Nevertheless, Ingram and Peak are prepared for the challenges of this work:

“I had to recall my own story and remember the times when I had to learn the hard way because I wasn’t in a place to be able to accept the lesson. In those moments I just have to step back and self-reflect. Not to give up on them because people didn’t give up on me. That one moment where somebody does realize that something I did or said finally clicked, outweighs all of the challenging moments.” – Ingram noted, reflecting on his own challenges as an adolescent.

Despite the obstacles, both are proud to share that the program has already seen success.

“One week we were talking about trauma and how when you are surrounded by trauma you normalize it. It was an incredible moment to see them really internalize it and realize that hearing gunshots and neighborhood violence is not what they should be experiencing.” Peak shared, “They are being taught that the trauma is not normal.”

Although challenging, both Ingram and Peak remain fiercely committed to the growth of Men Of Our H.O.O.D. and young men they work with, likening their mission to a domino effect that is sure to effect all of us in the future.

“Our slogan is ‘Changing Lives One Book at A Time’,” stated Ingram.” This is for our next generation of leaders. It’s our responsibility. I wanted somebody to be that for me and my generation. If they see me wanting to make a change, they will want to make a similar change. It’s a domino effect after that.”

Within the next year or two, Ingram and Peak hope to grow the program into multiple schools – and even hire facilitators that can deeply engage with the students on a regular basis. For now, they are always welcoming donations, whether its books, supplies or monetary support. Peak and Ingram also hope to continue raising awareness about the organization and need in Columbus.

Those seeking to learn more about Men of Our H.O.O.D. can

Dr. Beverly Toomey on Welcoming & Supporting New Americans

After over two decades of retirement, Dr. Beverly G. Toomey (MSW, 1974 and PhD, 1977), College of Social Work Professor Emeritus, remains deeply passionate about social change and education, especially for students aiming to open doors for the most vulnerable groups in our world.

“Understanding who people are and where they come from is so important”

After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and starting a family, Dr. Toomey began working at Ohio State in the Business School, which housed the social work curriculum at the time. With initial plans to take graduate courses in psychology, her engagement with the college inspired her to pursue social work courses. In 1977, she obtained her Ph.D. in social work and began teaching at the university, with an interest and passion for social mobility.

Post-retirement, Dr. Toomey maintains her commitment to advancing the human condition, prioritizing vulnerable and marginalized groups in her volunteer and philanthropic endeavors. Most recently, Dr. Toomey was among the first donors for the College of Social Work’s New American Scholarship, awarded to a College of Social Work student who is willing to make a commitment to work with New American communities in Central Ohio.

Drawing on personal experience, Dr. Toomey reflected on her passion for supporting New Americans: “All four of my grandparents were immigrants from Europe. I grew up with a grandfather who couldn’t read and write and a grandmother who learned English from the newspaper. Two other grandparents had a little bit of education. I saw what happened when you are from another country and you don’t know the language.”

More than anything, when it comes to true social change, Dr. Toomey places a strong emphasis on understanding who people are and where they come from.

“It’s hard to make your way if you’re not well-situated economically, but it makes it harder when there are cultural differences. I think it’s very important to continue helping people make it – especially the ones that are new to our country. Let them know they are welcome. They aren’t outsiders who need to be ‘let in’. “

Dr. Toomey currently resides outside of Washington D.C., where she enjoys spending quality time with her daughter and family in the area.

CSW Student Interns Featured in NASW Ohio Magazine

Congratulations to MSWII student Kaitlynn Harrell and BSSW student Tyler Michaels. Both work as interns at NASW Ohio and were recently featured in its alumni magazine.


Mighty March: A Month Honoring Social Workers, Women

Did you know that March doubles as Social Work Month and Women’s History Month? Celebrate with us as we note just a few of the many contributions of both social workers and women.

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CSW Students Featured in NASW Ohio Winter Magazine

Congratulations to the following students who were featured in NASW-Ohio’s winter 2021 magazine (pictured top left to right):

  • MSWII student Tipoko Martine Kabore. She is a member of the NASW Ohio chapter Student Advisory Council.
  • BSSW student Nuurah Parsons. Nuurah serves as Undergraduate Student Government Vice Chair of Justice & Equity and is a Morrill Scholar with Distinction.
  • BSSW student Caroline MacNeill who is a political science and social work double major and served a fellowship with Ohio League of Women Voters.
  • MSWII student Jack Brandl who works with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Morrill Scholarship Program and the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.

Cell Phone Technology, Golf Tee, Fridge, Mower & More: Black Inventions Impact Everyday Life

Did you know that...

This year, the College of Social Work is celebrating the many products invented or redesigned by Black people. From the dust pan, hair brush and ice cream scooper, to the mailbox, traffic light, and curtain rod, the significant inventions of Black people have impacted the world. Take a look to see what you know and can learn.

View the slideshow

View the slideshow!

CSW Lecturer Shares Expertise with Columbus Dispatch, ABC6 on Coping with Stress during New Year, Holidays

As the new year approaches, so does anxiety around what it may hold, especially as we continue to deal with the uncertainty of COVID19, and now the rollout of vaccines.

Will the new year be as disruptive as 2020? When can we stop wearing masks and social distancing? Will jobs return and small businesses rebound? Now add the usual heavy weight of expectations for a new start and unrealistic resolutions, and you’re dealing with even more stress. Whatever the new year ushers in, stress will certainly be on the list.
College of Social Work senior community lecturer Kelley Breidigan, MSW, LISW-S (MSW ’09), spoke with The Columbus Dispatch and ABC6-TV about ways to cope with both New Year’s and holiday stress. Breidigan has nine years of undergraduate and graduate classroom experience and is a seasoned mental health professional.

Read the story.

Listen here.

MSW Student Kenshawn Simmons Featured in OSU Alumni Magazine

Kenshawn Simmons

Congratulations to MSW student Kenshawn Simmons (BSSW ’20) who is highlighted in the winter issue of the Ohio State Alumni Magazine where he discusses his adjustment to online classes, self-care and the importance of not giving up or giving in to negativity.

Click here for link.

Click here for PDF.



Doctoral Student Yitong Xin Wins NASW-Ohio Award, Grant

Congratulations to PhD student Yitong Xin who is the recipient of NASW-Ohio’s Virtual 2020 Annual Conference Research Presentation award for her talk on “The acceptability of non-abstinent treatment interventions among clinical social workers in the United States.”

Xin’s talk is based on a 2019 proposal awarded by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center’s Drug Policy Research Grant Program at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Dr. Alan Davis served as the proposal’s principal investigator and Xin as co-investigator. They were awarded the maximum $10,000 award.

Click here for the proposal summary found under the 2019 listings.

For more information about Xin, click here.

For more information about Davis, click here.



Xin, Yitong

Davis, Alan, Ph.D.

New Bry & Bold podcast Premieres, Addresses Racial Injustice, Inequity

You won’t want to miss the college’s new Social Change podcast spinoff, Bry & Bold, dedicated to amplifying community voices, issues and conversations that need to be heard. Host Bryanna Stigger (left) discusses with Dr. Camille R. Quinn the importance of allyship, what being an ally really means, concepts of equity, and much more during this podcast premiere. Stigger serves as the college’s MSW outreach program coordinator.

Listen HERE and watch for more podcasts coming your way soon!

For previous Social Change podcasts, click here.

#WhyWeVote Videos Tell Why Alumni, Students, Faculty, Staff VOTE

Hear why Alumna Jessica Camacho (BSSW ’19), BSSW student Demondre Peak, Dr. Keith Warren and Lisa Durham, Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives and Community Engagement, VOTE.

In a special #SCPodcast conversation, Drs. Njeri Kagotho, Sharvari Karandikar (she/her/hers) and Arati Maleku join Advocacy Director Steve David to offer a look at their first voting experience as new citizens, the election’s impact on our collective future, and more.

College’s Alumni Magazine Addresses COVID-19, Racism Head-On

Just about everything has changed with COVID-19—even the way you get your CSW alumni magazine, The Stillman!

Click here for a PDF.

Click here to visit the web page.

Issue highlights include:
• A curriculum reformed
• Social work dean chairs university task force
• NASW leads a profession
• Stepping up and out during chaos
• How are parents coping during COVID-19?