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Annual spring breakfast focuses on the impact of student scholarships

May 20, 2016

The seventh annual scholarship breakfast, held April 26, raised $78,000 for the School’s endowed scholarship programs. More than 200 guests attended the early-morning event, emceed by Raymonda Reese (MSW ’16), a research fellow in the School-sponsored Communities in Action initiative. The keynote speaker, Vikram Jandhyala—the UW’s first vice president for innovation strategy—ignited attendees with his ideas on how to create synergy among faculty, staff and students and foster a University-wide innovation culture.

During the event, Dean Eddie Uehara described the recently established Excellence in Social Impact Scholarship Fund—made possible with a generous gift from long-term partners Steve and Connie Ballmer—as the most ambitious scholarship fundraising goal in the School’s history. “This gift allows us to double the amount of scholarship aid we give to our students each year," said Uehara. "But this is just the beginning. Our goal over the next five years is to triple the amount of funding for students—to cut tuition by 40 percent for those students with the greatest need.”

Nineteen of this year’s 72 scholarship recipients attended the breakfast and were warmly acknowledged during the event. A six-minute video profiling five of these scholarship recipients was also screened. “Seeing these students recognized for their innovation and impact, and hearing their personal stories, was a thrilling moment,” said April Johnson, Assistant Dean for Advancement. “Their presence and the testimonials they shared really drove home how important this scholarship aid is—not only to the lives of each student, but also to those who live in the communities they serve.”

Art exhibit to raise awareness about brain injury opens June 16

May 26, 2016

I’ve seen a lot of art by famous artists, but I’ve never been so moved as I was by this show. This art show patron is not talking about an exhibit at the Louvre in Paris or the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. She is talking about last year's brain injury art show.

The 2016 brain injury art show—Breaking the Silence—runs from June 16 to Sept. 16, 2016 at the UW School of Social Work First Floor Gallery. The artists’ reception is Thurs., June 23, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public.

“Most all of us will be impacted by a brain injury at some point, whether it happens to us personally or someone we know,” said Deborah Crawley, the executive director of the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington, which is co-sponsoring the exhibit with the School of Social Work. Brain Injury is the leading cause of death and disability for most age groups, including children.

This annual art show, now in its eighth year, and other events sponsored by BIAWA are not only important because they provide opportunities for brain injury survivors to connect with each other as artists, survivors, and contributing members of society, but also because they provide opportunities to educate our community and break the silence of the serious health issue. Image provided by Tim Carter.

Each artist in Breaking the Silence has suffered some form of brain injury. Their lives were changed by their injury. Art is a vital form of expression to many of the art show participants; the artists employ art as a therapeutic tool in the recovery process. According to brain injury survivor and artist, Brandon: “These physical pieces of art are representatives of I did it. I came back from this and I am going to beat the odds.”

About the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington: The mission of this nonprofit agency is to increase public awareness, support, and hope for those affected by brain injury through education, assistance and advocacy. Just a few of the services the agency provides free of charge include the Washington Traumatic Brain Injury Resource Center, resource management, and brain health and wellness classes. Learn more at 

Megan Moore leads study identifying disparities in care among children with traumatic brain injury

May 23, 2016

Children who suffer traumatic brain injuries can face a difficult road to recovery, requiring services such as physical therapy and mental health treatment for months or years to get their young lives back on track.

When those children come from low-income households with limited English proficiency, there can be significant barriers in getting them the care they need.

A recent University of Washington study found that less than 20 percent of rehabilitation providers in the state accepted Medicaid and also provided language interpretation to children with traumatic brain injuries. Just 8 percent provided mental health services to those children, and Spanish-speaking families had to travel significantly further to access services.

The findings highlight how already disadvantaged children are further impacted by limited access to the rehabilitation services that vastly improve long-term outcomes, said lead author Megan Moore, the Sidney Miller Endowed Assistant Professor in Direct Practice at the UW School of Social Work and a core faculty member at the UW Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

Forefront leads initiative to reduce suicides among university and college students in Washington state

May 12, 2016

The University of Washington is leading a new, four-year collaboration aimed at promoting mental health and preventing suicide at colleges and universities around the state.

The initiative is a partnership between Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention—an organization in the UW School of Social Work—and the New York-based Jed Foundation, which focuses on protecting emotional health and preventing suicide among college students. The effort kicked off May 10 at a Forefront conference in Bellevue, where 12 schools invited to participate met to learn about the program.

“We are working proactively in a very large-scale way to address suicide prevention,” said Jennifer Stuber, Forefront’s co-founder and faculty director.

“By involving colleges and universities around the state, we think we can have a powerful impact in helping to reduce suicides. These campuses can be leaders for the rest of the state.”

Four School of Social Work students join inaugural Husky 100 group

May 4, 2016

School of Social Work BASW students Ashley Alday, Kainen Bell and David Inglish, and MSW/MPH graduate student Tiffany Woelfel, were selected to be part of the first cohort in an inaugural program called the Husky 100. This new student recognition program acknowledges 100 undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines from the Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma campuses who exemplify leadership, passion, creativity and commitment.

Awardees will be recognized at an event May 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the HUB Ballroom. As a Husky 100, they will receive several benefits, including networking opportunities, invitations to exclusive events, customized career counseling and interaction with UW alumni. A complete look at the 2016 Husky 100 can be viewed here.

As a social work major and first-generation college student, Ashley Alday (BASW '16) acknowledged the importance of the service opportunities available to UW students. “When I first stepped onto campus, I was a lone freshman trying to figure out where I belonged,” she said. “My development as a leader started when I became involved with different communities, on and off campus.” Ashley will continue her social work education this summer as an MSW Advanced Standing Program student.

Kainen Bell (BASW '16) is a board member of the Associated Students of UW, student ambassador for the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, and a mentor for Young Executives of Color. As a social welfare and business administration major in his senior year, Bell has completed internships at Boeing and KPMG and also studied abroad in Brazil and Germany. “My experiences studying abroad made me realize I’m capable of doing what I set my mind to and inspired me to apply for a Fulbright grant. “  

David Inglish (BASW '16), a former foster child, is turning his personal experiences into a professional career focused on mentoring and empowering other foster youth. Inglish believes his UW education helped him become more engaged. “I am so grateful to be in this environment where I have made strong friends and connections,” he said, “and to have an opportunity to be constantly challenged to do and be more.”

The fourth Husky 100 representing the School of Social Work is Tiffany Woelfel (MSW '15, MPH '16) who is working on a dual master’s degree in social work and public health. Woelfel has 14 years’ experience in health research with an emphasis on addiction, trauma and social media ethics. “Becoming a Husky 100 will connect me with other recipients to start a lifelong community,” she said. “The UW has shaped my life in so many ways. I’m wrapping up my fourth degree here. It’s my home and always will be.”

Applications for the Husky 100 were judged by a committee of students and faculty in five categories, including having a discovery mindset, committed to be part of an inclusive community and capacity for leadership.

Read full article:
Husky 100 (University of Washington)

Gillian Marshall explores impact of recession-related stress on health

April 20, 2016

The Great Recession devastated millions of Americans financially—but what impacts did that economic stress have on their physical and mental well-being? Gillian Marshall, an assistant professor of social work at the UW Tacoma, wants to answer that question.

Marshall was awarded a five-year, $654,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the link between financial hardship and health. She is the first faculty member at UW Tacoma to receive an NIH Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award. Marshall recently sat down for an interview with UW Today to answer a few questions about her project.

Research study targets marijuana and tobacco users who want to quit

April 15, 2016

The Innovative Programs Research Group, an organization in the UW School of Social Work, is recruiting people 18 and older for a free marijuana and tobacco treatment trial. The study is aimed at adults who are regularly using both substances, want to quit marijuana and are willing to consider kicking the tobacco habit as well.

This group tends to struggle when it comes to quitting marijuana. Rates of tobacco use are high among regular cannabis users — between 40 and 90 percent, depending on the study and the population — and people who seek treatment for marijuana use who are also smokers tend to have poorer outcomes and higher relapse rates, principal investigator Denise Walker said

Social work student James Her given UW Bonderman travel fellowship

April 14, 2016

James Her (MSW ’16) is one of 15 UW students awarded a 2016 Bonderman travel fellowship, worth $20,000. The goal of this sought-after fellowship is to expose students to the intrinsic, often life-changing, benefits of international travel. The grant allows UW students to embark for regions around the world on solo journeys that last for at least eight months.

Says Her, who plans to start his global trek in late August. “I am looking forward to stepping outside of my comfort zone and living in the present moment while exploring Costa Rica, Peru, Morocco, Tonga, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and China.” His goal is to immerse himself in non-Western countries so that he can experience firsthand how people live without the latest technologies and other luxuries so often take for granted in the U.S.

Her credits his social work education with becoming a stronger, more resilient person and addressing his own deeply personal issues. “The most surprising thing I learned about myself while at the UW is how badly I needed to address and begin processing the internalized oppression that I have been struggling with for a long time. The social work program gave me the opportunity to reflect a lot on myself and my experiences, and to recognize how I can have a positive impact on society.” Once Her completes his worldwide travels, he hopes to serve marginalized groups and minority communities. [Photo credit: IWRI]

About The Bonderman Travel Fellowships: David Bonderman, who earned his undergraduate degree in Russian in 1963 from the University of Washington, created the fellowship program. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he received a Sheldon Fellowship that allowed him to travel internationally, an experience that had a profound impact on his life. The Bonderman Travel Fellowships support UW students in having a similarly transformative experience. The UW Graduate School and the University Honors Program administer the program.

Jennifer Stuber writes about working with NRA in Washington Post editorial

April 8, 2016

It wasn’t the hardest phone call I’ve ever made, but it was certainly awkward. I was cold-calling the National Rifle Association. Because the NRA is well-known for offering gun safety training, I wanted to know whether the organization had ideas on how to reduce the number of firearm suicides. Half of all suicides in the United States are by firearm, and roughly two-thirds of all firearm deaths are suicides. Given the NRA’s opposition to virtually all gun regulation, I knew this was a touchy area.

A far harder call was the one I received from a Seattle police officer a few years earlier. The officer told me that my husband had ended his struggle with anxiety and depression with a single bullet. Suddenly, I was a 38-year-old widow and a single parent of two young children. I was left wondering how this had happened and whether it could have been prevented. I was deeply angry at myself, at my husband, at a treatment system that failed him and at a society that made it easy to buy a pistol. I wasn’t the best person to try to start a conversation with the NRA. No wonder it took me a few years to make the call.

Research study finds overweight teen girls more likely to be depressed as adults

April 5, 2016

Women who were overweight as adolescents are more likely than others to have symptoms of depression at age 65, especially if they were raised in low-income families, according to a new study.

The same wasn't true for men, however.

“The most surprising result may be the difference in the relationship between adolescent overweight and later life depressive symptoms by gender,” said lead author Melissa L. Martinson of the University of Washington in Seattle.

The researchers used data from 10,000 people who graduated from high school in Wisconsin in 1957. Study participants answered 20-question surveys the year they graduated and again in 1964, 1975, 1993 and 2004, when they were about 65 years old.

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