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College of Social Work

BSW Award Winner: Tomeka Pryor

April 24, 2020
Chris Woodley • 

During this week, the College of Social Work is proud to recognize our four Bachelor of Social Work students who were recognized (virtually) at the University of South Carolina’s annual Awards Day on April 16. The awards celebrate the service, scholarship, leadership and character of the student community. A group of four instructors in the BSW program provided input and discussion before selecting the award recipients. 

BSW Diversity and Inclusion Award
Tomeka Pryor
Columbia, South Carolina

The award is designated for a student who uplifts, empowers, and advocates for marginalized or underrepresented populations at the College of Social Work, campus community, and other communities, representing social work’s values and ethics.

“Tomeka has an ongoing interest in learning about serving people who are formerly incarcerated. This is an underrepresented population in social work practice, and Tomeka was able to bring a good deal of attention to it in class assignments and discussions, including completing an independent study to learn more about best practices with people who are formerly incarcerated and their families. In her independent study, she conducted a literature review, wrote a research paper, and presented findings to peers and faculty.” – BSW Program Coordinator Brent Cagle

What does earning the BSW Diversity and Inclusion Award mean to you?

“It is a great feeling to know that my work did not go unnoticed throughout my time here. I want to give a special thank you to Dr. Cagle who participated in this research with me. Overall, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to not only educate myself about this marginalized population but to also pass that knowledge to others.”

What were some examples of promoting diversity and inclusion?

“There were several events on campus to help promote diversity this academic year. There was a Diversity Matter Reading, and Hip-Hop Week is also something known around the campus. It’s great that the university offers these events.”

How has the College of Social Work helped you understand the importance of diversity and inclusion?

“For starters, when you walk into the College of Social Work you see a great range of diversity among the students. I have interacted with students who are a different race and ethnicity, 10 years or older than me, veterans, and an array of other differences. This alone has taught me to embrace others and understand how we all have something great to bring to the table. I have gained insight and seen different perspectives just from being exposed to the diversity among the students here. All of the professors I have had the chance to work with have done a great job at integrating the importance of functioning as a social worker in a diverse world and teaching us how to work with marginalized and oppressed populations.”

Why is diversity and inclusion important to social workers?

“As social workers we will interact with different people from various walks of life. It’s our job to ensure that we educate ourselves and become more culturally competent to better understand these differences. Educating ourselves and gaining this knowledge will allow us to provide better services to those we are serving. The more we know about diverse groups and the oppressions they may face, the better advocates we will be.”

What are your future plans?

“I am happy to say that my journey at the University of South Carolina has not yet come to an end. I have been accepted into the Advanced Standing program at the College of Social Work, so that new chapter starts for me in June. Once graduate school is complete, I plan to pursue a career working with formerly incarcerated individuals and hope to help them combat their challenges of reentry.”


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