Impact of Giving
Laying the Foundation
At UNC’s School of Social Work, we know that our students and faculty are some of the best in the world, which is why competition for these scholars has increased substantially over the past few years. More and more, private giving plays a critical role in our efforts to recruit and retain top-notch social work leaders who remain the foundation of our School’s success.
Gifts to the School of Social Work at any level are an investment in our future.
Funding for endowed professorships is especially critical to support the work of faculty who are pursuing innovative research that improves practice and enhances education. Such funding also helps to support student research assistants for faculty members, as well as recognizes an individual’s academic accomplishments.
Most of our students largely depend on scholarships and loans to finance their education. Your gifts enable our School to attract excellent MSW and Ph.D. students and to ensure that they have the funding support they need to succeed.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the School of Social Work has created three new endowed professorships and 19 new scholarships over the last decade.
Dr. Rebecca Macy
Dr. Rebecca J. Macy, associate dean for academic affairs, was named the School’s newest Distinguished Professor during the 2012-2013 academic year. Macy holds the L. Richardson and Emily Preyer Bicentennial Professorship to Strengthen Families. The $1 million endowed chair was created to expand the School’s capacity to serve North Carolina families and children in need.
“For me, the Preyer Distinguished Chair is an incredible honor and a resource to better support social work research and our students. Though I've only had the professorship for a few months, it has already made a significant difference in my work.”
Macy’s research focuses on interpersonal and relationship violence, especially interventions that promote violence survivors’ safety and recovery from the trauma of violence. In 2008, she completed a two-year study that looked for effective sexual assault and domestic violence services in the state of North Carolina as well as at existing gaps. Her study showed that sexual assault and partner violence “continue to be widespread problems” that pose serious dangers to women’s overall health and well-being. Among other challenges, Macy’s investigation found that limited funding often prevents agencies and shelters from providing ideal services, such as transportation to help survivors access services, transitional housing and specialized services for children.
Currently, Macy is conducting a pilot study in Orange County, where she and a colleague are examining the connection between interpersonal violence and women with severe and persistent mental illness.
In addition to supporting her own research projects, the endowed funding has also enabled Macy to support the work of social work graduate students, she added. “By using my professorship in this way, I am able to give our students opportunities to learn about social work research, as well as help support our students during their studies here at Carolina.”
Kanisha Coleman enrolled in the School of Social Work’s Ph.D. program in 2012, eager to learn and ready to begin her own rigorous research into how child trauma affects development.
“I’ve just long been interested in exploring parent-child relationships and how that plays a role in child maltreatment,” said Coleman, who earned her undergrad degree in psychology from UNC. “I think children are the most vulnerable population when it comes to their environment. They are very vulnerable to what they see and what they learn from their parents.”
Being able to focus on her studies from day one and not having to worry about how to pay for her education has been a huge relief, said Coleman, who is receiving full financial support from a fellowship fund thanks to a generous donation from Sam and Betsy Reeves of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The Reeves’ gift, which was received four years ago, enables the School of Social Work to offer selected doctoral students two years of financial assistance. The fellowships cover the costs of in-state tuition, health insurance and a nine-month academic stipend. In exchange for faculty grants, which help to fund years three and four, students assist with teaching and research.
“This funding has been very important because it takes away a lot of stresses that could have come had I not had the money,” Coleman said. “It has really helped to lift a lot of pressure off my shoulders and helped me to really focus on schoolwork. I wish that was the case for everybody—to not have to worry about money.”
Claudio Caceres Araya
While growing up in Santiago, Chile, Claudio Caceres Araya learned from his own family about the value of giving back to others.
“My grandfather was a politician, and he used to work with people and communities; Caceres Araya explained. “My father was raised in the church, and he developed this encouragement for helping others, and I always received that message from him.”
Caceres Araya attributes those influences for gently steering him toward a profession in social work. A 2005 graduate of Catholic University in Santiago, Chile, Caceres Araya spent four years as a social worker helping youth and families in the San Miguel community of Santiago. Then, in 2008, after marrying a North Carolina native, Caceres Araya applied to Carolina’s MSW program. He didn’t think too much about being accepted because at the time, he was still learning English and worrying about finances, especially with his wife finishing nursing school at UNC.
Fortunately, he was accepted into the School of Social Work’s Triangle Distance Education program, which allowed him to attend classes part-time and to work. Receiving the School’s Armfield Scholarship in 2011, and the Joanna Finkelstein Gorham Scholarship the following year further eased his family’s financial stress.
“Getting those scholarships helped me to make my dream come true,” said Caceres Araya, who graduates in May and hopes to work within the healthcare field or with a nonprofit serving Latino families.
“At this point in my career, I’m excited because I achieved something that I never thought I would be able to do.”