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Student briefs

Doctoral student Laurie Graham, MSW ’11, was honored on Aug. 8 as a “Hometown Hero” with a Village Pride Award from WCHL radio in Chapel Hill. Graham was formerly the program director at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, and this semester entered our doctoral program.  Listen here
Doctoral student Todd Jensen is part of a new UNC campus initiative called Stigma Free Carolina, a campaign aimed at supporting the mental health of Carolina community members by reducing personal and perceived mental health stigma. The idea originated with Nikhil Tomar, a doctoral student in occupational science, as a photography campaign featuring people holding signs with supportive messages about mental health. Supportive photography is an important aspect of the campaign, but almost a year of planning has enabled the outreach to grow in scope — encompassing student mental health trainings, interactive activities, a campus seminar with an expert panel of
speakers, community education efforts, and a website with a compilation of mental health resource information and positive messages. Their campus kickoff event will be a themed meal at Top of Lenoir on Sept. 12. Carolina Dining Services will provide a 30 percent discount from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day to all individuals who present a valid UNC One Card at Top of Lenoir and who do not have a student meal plan. Stigma Free Carolina volunteers will share information on mental health resources and also offer prizes that include UNC Student Stores discount vouchers. Full story
Virginia Lewis, Triangle Distance Education MSW Program student, was nominated for a U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship by UNC’s Center for European Studies for the 2014–15 academic year. Lewis began her studies of Portuguese when she went to Portugal for 12 weeks in the summer of 2013, with UNC’s Global Education and Developmental Studies program that was based at the University of Porto. In addition to her social work courses, she will study European Portuguese language and literature at UNC, to continue to advance her proficiency in verbal and written Portuguese. Through the area studies component of the FLAS fellowship, she will complete courses on Portuguese culture within Pan-European globalism and transnationalism to increase her knowledge of the internal and global forces forging Portugal’s current economic and social crises. Lewis plans to continue research she began in Portugal during the summer of 2013, on the effects of austerity measures on the populations most vulnerable to cuts in social services within Portugal. She found in Portugal not only high rates of poverty and depression, but also an innovative social work methodology of cultural inclusion in the face of crushing economic hardship. Fluent in Spanish, Lewis will develop her Portuguese skills to collaborate with policymakers and researchers considering the comparative effects of austerity measures on Spanish and Portuguese speaking populations.
Jolanta McKinnie, 3rd year Winston-Salem MSW Program Distance Education MSW student, was selected as Employee of the Year by the Forsyth County Dept. of Social Services. She is a child support agent in Winston-Salem, and has been working there for six years. McKinnie is originally from Poland, and has been in the U.S. for 12 years. “My interest in social work is largely due to corruption and abuses I observed in Poland. There is no agency to help or advocate for people in Poland,” said McKinnie.