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College of Social Work

Bodequia Simon Receives Pioneer Award

Since her founding of the organization Black Girls In Social Work, MSW alumna Bodequia Simon’s journey in the realm of social work has been nothing short of exceptional. Her influential network of over 40,000 professionals not only connects social workers around the country, but recently her organization hosted its first nationwide conference. Called Homecoming, the three-day event included several hundred social workers and motivational speakers, networking and social events.  

While Simon’s current career as a social work specialist in the Orangeburg County Library keeps her busy, she devotes her other hours to her BGISW network, helping her members with licensure, employment leads, education and mentoring. 

For her efforts in the field, the USC College of Social Work named Simon as the 2023 recipient of the Pioneer Award, recognizing her outstanding contributions to social work on both state and national levels. The accolade exemplifies leadership, innovation and her unwavering commitment to the values and professionalism of social work practice at its highest standard. 

The award is a top honor within the College. Dean Teri Browne and faculty members nominated Simon based on her remarkable accomplishments and tireless dedication to her field.  Simon received the award from Social Work staff member Sonya Singleton during the conference held in Atlanta, Georgia.  

“Bodequia has worked tirelessly to create positive change in the lives of individuals and communities through her network, embodying the very essence of what it means to be a social work pioneer,” said Browne. “Her unwavering commitment to the principles of social work and her remarkable achievements make her the perfect recipient for the Pioneer Award.” 

Simon says she is happy to see social workers recognized.  

“I would like to thank the College of Social Work for acknowledging my contributions with the Pioneer Award. As Social Workers, we are often not recognized for our work and this award demonstrates that we are seen. I would also like to thank the department for their continued support over the years. My experience as a Gamecock was a driving force behind my innovative path to leadership with Black Girls in Social Work.” 

As for the future of Simon and her organization, Black Girls In Social Work continues to grow its membership and outreach. She’s planning for a 2025 national conference and hopes her network will make a profound, long-term impact on the profession.  

“Our community has accomplished great things including our first conference this year with the support of the college,” said Simon. “I look forward to our next conference in 2025, expanding our membership and developing chapters, and continuing to push our efforts forward." 

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