During this week, the College of Social Work is proud to recognize our four Bachelor of Social Work students who were recognized at the University of South Carolina’s annual Awards Day on April 15 at Colonial Life Arena. The awards celebrate the service, scholarship, leadership and character of the student community.
BSW Community Engagement Award / University of South Carolina Outstanding Senior
Hometown: Marlton, New Jersey
The BSW Community Engagement award is designated for a student who demonstrates high levels of effective engagement in the College of Social Work, campus community, and other communities, representing social work’s values and ethics.
“Jenna is involved in a multitude of student and community organizations as a leader. She is the president of the USWSA this year and was vice president last year. She has spearheaded many community service activities through USWSA and other organizations. In addition, she regularly participates in Save the Children Action Network events as well as Service Saturday on campus. I’ve never known anyone with such community engagement as Jenna.” – Clinical Associate Professor Brent Cagle
What does receiving the BSW Community Engagement Award mean to you?
“This award means that my efforts to engage students within and beyond the College of Social Work have not gone unnoticed. This award really means a lot to me as community engagement has been really challenging because of the pandemic, and it is nice to know that my efforts have been appreciated.”
What were some examples of your community engagement during your time at South Carolina?
“Within the College of Social Work, I have served on the executive board for the Undergraduate Social Work Student Association as vice president for the 2019-2020 school year and president for the 2020-2021 school year. As president, I implemented a peer mentorship program that matched upper and lower division students within the college to provide a sense of community among students.
I have served the Carolina community as a Changing Carolina Peer Leader since my freshman year and as the mental health chair for the 2019-2020 school year and the body image chair for the 2020-2021 school year. The goal of CCPL is to promote well-being in the areas of mental, physical, sexual and relational health. Community engagement is essential to this role; with each event and initiative we carefully plan who we are trying to reach and how we can engage that population.”
How has the College of Social Work helped you understand the importance of community engagement?
“SOWK 412: Generalist Practice IV has really been a game changer for me in terms of my understanding of community engagement. This class enhanced my understanding of how critical community members are to achieving social change and implementing programs. Coming into the College of Social Work and getting involved with USWSA has really made me feel connected to my classmates and part of a community, which has made my time here so enjoyable.”
Why is community engagement important to social workers?
“As social workers, we cannot expect to just come into a community and know exactly what the community members need. Part of our role is to view ourselves as learners, and that needs to be the attitude when working within communities. Community members will know and understand the presenting problem in a way that is different from us, and thus can help lead to effective solutions. Community members should be engaged on all levels of the change process.”
What are your future plans?
“I will be starting the Advanced Standing MSW program at UofSC in June. I hope to work on the community level after I graduate.”