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MSW student receives 2019 NASW-NC President’s Award

The National Association of Social Workers North Carolina Chapter (NASW-NC) has named MSW student Mariah Cowell as the recipient of the 2019 NASW-NC Presidents’ Award for Master of Social Work (MSW) graduate students for the 2018-2019 academic year. The NASW-NC President’s Award honors Cowell’s involvement in her community, leadership capabilities in her program, and passion for macro social work through acclaimed research and policy practice.

Cowell has excelled in every way at UNC. With a future Ph.D in mind, she has taken three doctoral courses to prepare her for after graduation. She received the prestigious Jane Curtis Parker Award after being nominated by her faculty and peers. Cowell remains highly involved in her program, as she is on the Social Justice Action Committee, is a Community Management and Policy Practice Curriculum Delegate, and serves as the Macro Caucus chair. In this leadership role, Cowell seeks “to foster community, expand visibility for macro students within the School and plan events that promote preparedness for students to apply and enter the field.”

Combining her love for research and support for her cohort led to her research assistantship that “examined the graduate social work curriculum and school climate to explore student levels of preparedness to confront oppression upon graduation.” Based off this research, Cowell presented at the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Retreat and at the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting in Orlando, FL.

Due to her research at her current field placement, the Duke Social Science Research Institute, Cowell has also been able to present her work regarding a program examining the experience of underrepresented women in the STEM field at the American Evaluators Association National Conference.

While Cowell’s recognition has reached outside of her program, it has also not gone unnoticed by her program’s faculty members. Tonya Van Deinse, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor at the School, said that although she meets a lot of great students as a professor, “Mariah combines her leadership, community involvement, passion, critical thinking, and research skills to create a kind of synergy that somehow still stands out even among the dedicated and accomplished students we have.”

Van Deinse has also witnessed Cowell’s research capabilities firsthand, as they were co-investigators in a study of student preparedness and said that she was able to “observe her commitment to advocating for high quality and comprehensive education, particularly around social justice issues.”

Cowell will be honored at the 2019 NASW-NC Ethics Conference and Awards Luncheon on Friday, March 15, 2019 at the McKimmon Center.