Final-year MSW student Jessica Lambert Ward has received a nationally-competitive National Association of Social Workers (NASW) scholarship for 2011-12 – the Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial MSW Scholarship.
This $2,000 scholarship is awarded by the NASW Foundation to a social work master’s degree candidate who has demonstrated a commitment to working with, or who have a special affinity with American Indian/Alaska Native or Hispanic/Latino populations, or in public and voluntary nonprofit agency settings.
Lambert Ward is of half Okinawan (Japanese) and half American Indian (Lumbee) descent. She and her three younger sisters were primarily raised within the American Indian community of Robeson County, N.C., by a single father. Growing up in an area plagued by poverty, addiction and violence, she always knew she wanted to alleviate the suffering of her people, long before she realized she wanted to be a social worker.
Ultimately, she would like to create an organization that integrates direct and macro practice interventions tailored to American Indian populations that will work to reduce health disparities and promote economic development.
“I have always had a profound respect for my American Indian heritage, much of which I learned by spending summers with my paternal grandmother, the late Bessie Lowery Lambert, the strongest and wisest woman I have ever known,” said Lambert Ward.
“Academically and professionally, I have drawn my inspiration from Dr. Theda Perdue, whose research focuses on the Native peoples of the southeastern United States, on gender in Native societies, and on racial construction in the South; and NASW Social Work pioneer, Ada Deer,” she said.
Lambert Ward is a very active graduate student. She has worked closely with the UNC American Indian Center, the UNC School of Social Work’s Field Education Office, and the N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs to create a macro field placement working with tribal organizations in North Carolina. She is also co-founder and membership coordinator of the Carolina Native American Club, an organization that facilitates networking and fellowship opportunities between American Indian students, alumni, and tribal communities, while advocating for American Indian issues in higher education.
In addition, she has worked as a research assistant and cultural liaison with UNC’s N.C. Academic Center for Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention, a project aimed at preventing youth violence in Robeson County, home of the largest American Indian population east of the Mississippi River.
When she’s not busy with her studies, she enjoys spending time with husband, Shaheem and their two-year-old daughter, Kyla.