More than 25 students, alumni, faculty, staff and special guests participated in the School of Social Work’s 16th annual Students Achieving Graduate Education (SAGE) event on Saturday, Aug. 12. The event is an opportunity for students of color and international students to connect prior to the start of fall classes and to learn about the academic, social and cultural resources and support that are available within the School and at UNC.
During this year’s event, Maria Dykema Erb, co-director of The Graduate School’s Diversity and Student Success Program, along with her graduate assistant, Diamond Holloman, welcomed students to UNC and shared program and social support resources available to graduate students. Meinkeng Fonge, a current MSW student and member of the spoken word group Ebony Readers/Onyz Theater, performed a spoken word piece. Kate Palmer, a current MSW student and Black Student Caucus co-chair, and Theresa Flores and Yazmin Garcia Rico, current MSW students and co-chairs of the Latinx Student Caucus, discussed the role of student groups within the School and activities their caucus groups have sponsored. Suzy Khachaturyan and Jessie Phillips, current students in the School’s MSW/MSPH dual degree program, shared information about the Student Health Action Coalition and ways students could be involved as volunteers.
Several faculty and staff members also spoke about their roles and the various programs that they direct within the School, including Lisa Zerden, senior associate dean of MSW education; Ben Balderas, assistant director or recruitment, admissions and financial aid; Gary Cuddeback, associate professor and coordinator of the School’s dual degree program in social work and public health; Travis Albritton, clinical assistant professor and director of the School’s Triangle Distance Education Program; Marilyn Ghezzi, clinical assistant professor and chair of the direct practice concentration; Monique Tuset, coordinator of Student Affairs, and Rachel Woodson Goode, one of our new assistant professors.
Following brunch, Albritton led students in a large group discussion about the importance of using their voices in the classroom, in field and in the community to advocate for themselves and other members of under-represented groups.