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Five MSW students awarded Tayeh innovation and impact award

Five UNC School of Social Work MSW students have been selected to receive 2022 Vera Tayeh Innovations and Impact Awards. Hannah Marion, Ilana Shtivelman, Thorne Myers, Teresa Cal, and Olivia Arges are the second cohort of students to receive the award, which supports student entrepreneurship through $10,000 grants.

Students selected to receive the grants develop a unique field placement around an innovative idea or program that has the potential to improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities. Awardees can innovate within an existing field placement, within a lapsed placement they re-establish, or within an entirely new placement they create.

Awardees design, implement, and evaluate their innovative ideas in collaboration with the School of Social Work’s Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab. Students work with faculty, field supervisors, clients and community stakeholders to help design interventions, using the best available science in a particular area of focus. Applicants are encouraged to think big, take risks, and be bold in challenging both themselves and the status quo.

In addition to building confidence, rewarding initiative and creativity, these awards enable students to challenge boundaries and encourage collaboration with communities, helping them to potentially discover and cultivate new skills, noted Tanya Jisa, clinical assistant professor and community education coordinator for the School’s SIE Lab.

“As budding social entrepreneurs, awardees bring courage, compassion, perseverance and daring to their projects, their field placement agencies and to the School of Social Work,” Jisa added. “We are so fortunate to be able to offer this opportunity through Vera’s generosity and revolutionary spirit.”

This year’s award winners and their proposed projects include:

  • Hannah Marion, a dual degree JD/MSW student, specializes in macro social work and will be placed at UNC Law’s Civil Legal Assistance Clinic next year. She plans to do extensive court watching and support the work of tenant organizers to further housing justice. After graduation, Marion hopes to work as a community lawyer using her dual degree to support the work of organizers.
  • Ilana Shtivelman, a two-year full-time student will be interning at UNC Carolina Veterans Resource Center, where she intends to pursue both the macro and direct practice specializations simultaneously. Originally from Israel, Ilana wishes to combine her passions for social justice, mental health, and global work, focusing specifically on the role of social work within war settings (serving the military and veteran populations, and providing counter-terrorism efforts).
  • Thorne Myers, a two-year full-time student, specializes in direct practice and is committed to anti-racist, anti-oppressive work; loving, learning, and knowing their queer and trans lineage; and exploring ways to show up as more fully embodied every day. They intend to use the award to support the LGBTQ community’s access to safe transportation and to create driver’s education programming that is affirming of the experiences of queer and trans individuals. After graduation, Thorne intends to work as a therapist for their community, serving individuals, couples, and families.
  • Teresa Cal is a two-year full-time student with a macro focus concentration. Cal is interested in working with survivors of intimate partner violence, specifically developing alternative services or networks of assistance to empower individual survivors who may be reluctant to seek help through traditional medical and legal systems. Cal seeks to offer alternatives that support long-term healing and independence.
  • Olivia Arges, a two-year full-time student focused on direct practice, is interested in developing a project that focuses on eliminating obstacles that might prevent pet owners from keeping their pets as the adults age. The project aims to create a framework that uses a mutual aid model to help older adults care for their pets and to protect the bond that benefits both the animal and their owner.

About the award

The Vera Tayeh Innovation and Impact Award was founded by Vera Tayeh, MSW ‘87, who as an intern in Lebanon, where she was born, enjoyed both the creativity and responsibility in developing after-school programs for teenagers. Tayeh, who wanted current MSW students at the School to have similar opportunities, established the award with a $100,000 gift to the School to develop incentives for student innovation. A member of the School’s advisory board, Tayeh has worked in child welfare with Wake County Human Services for more than 20 years.