The National Association of Social Workers Foundation awarded MSW student Yaquelin “Jackie” Perez-Albanil the Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship recognizes master’s degree candidates in social work who have demonstrated a commitment to working with, or who have a special affinity with, American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latinx populations. Consuelo W. Gosnell was a champion of civil and human rights and worked diligently to improve conditions for critically under-served American Indian and Latinx communities in the Southwest. She practiced for many years in federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Perez-Albanil, who will graduate from UNC School of Social Work’s 12-month Advanced Standing Program in the Community, Management and Policy Practice concentration in May 2023, is committed to serving the Latinx community. Perez-Albanil is especially passionate about supporting students in their educational journeys and advocating for immigration reform.
“I want to continue to uplift and encourage families that are often left in the margins by creating programs that support and mobilize communities and are representative of different cultures,” she said.
A first-generation college graduate and graduate student, Perez-Albanil earned her Bachelor’s of Social Work degree from Appalachian State University (ASU), where she sought a path of service and community by working with the Immigrant Justice Coalition, the Western Youth Network, and Immigrant Advocacy Federal Work Study.
In her role as an Immigrant Advocacy program assistant, Perez-Albanil lobbied for proposed legislation and conducted needs assessments for the immigrant community in Boone, N.C. While working closely with community members, she recognized a need for accessible and culturally inclusive educational resources for immigrant-affected youth. Perez-Albanil championed educational equity by leading trainings and presentations to promote college access for immigration-affected youth in Appalachia.
With community collaboration in mind, she developed a pilot college preparation series for first generation students called “Ponte las Pilas” in Watauga County, N.C. This program helped Latinx parents and first-generation students explore higher education opportunities and navigate college applications and financial aid and federal student aid resources.
“I wanted students and families to feel comfortable, supported, and empowered to chase their educational goals,” she said.
At ASU, Albanil discovered an interest in adverse and traumatic experiences within Latinx communities and began working with faculty on the repercussions of adverse childhood experiences and immigration-related trauma on Latinx communities in Western North Carolina. Her work with the immigrant community earned her ASU’s Ronny L. Brooks Award for Outstanding Leadership.
At UNC, Perez-Albanil has continued to receive recognition and financial support for her work. She was previously awarded the School of Social Work’s Joanna Finkelstein Gorham Scholarship and most recently, she was among seven MSW students to receive the 2022-2023 Vera Tayeh Innovations and Impact Award.