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Three School of Social Work members inducted into Carolina 20-Year Society 

by Chris Hilburn-Trenkle 

Three dedicated employees of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work were among those honored last month by the University.  

Nearly 300 staff and faculty members were inducted into the Carolina 20-Year Society on Tuesday, May 21, in the Carolina Club at Alumni Hall. Among those inducted were Administrative Research Manager Penny Hawkins, Clinical Associate Professor Melissa Godwin and Director, Behavioral Health Springboard Sarah Reives-Houston.  

The invitation-only celebration featured a breakfast for attendees and included remarks from Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts, who expressed his appreciation for the love and commitment the inductees showed for the state. Each inductee also received a plaque as an homage for their service.  

Administrative Research Manager Penny Hawkins 

Hawkins has helped the University in a variety of roles since joining Carolina in 2004 as a temporary employee. Hawkins, who attended Bridgewater College, became the School of Social Work’s administrative research manager in August 2021 and has since carried a huge lift for the School. In the role, she manages all aspects of award administration, from pre-award submissions and development to post-award supervision. Hawkins was recently appointed to serve a two-year term on the collaborate community committee for The National Council of University Research Administrators, and in May presented “Budget Building Blocks for Research Administrators” at the National Council of University Research Administrators’ (NCURA) spring meeting in Orlando, Fla.  

In 2022, Hawkins earned a diploma with honors as a master Herbalist from the American College of Healthcare Sciences.  

“When I started at UNC as a temp back in 2004, I had no idea what a big part of my life Carolina would become or that I would still be here 20 years later,” Hawkins said. “It was wonderful to be recognized for those 20 years of service, and I look forward to many more.” 

Director, Behavioral Health Springboard Sarah Reives-Houston 

Reives-Houston has worked in the behavioral health space for more than a decade, including as a trauma-informed practice consultant and trainer for the Duke Center for Child and Family Health. Reives-Houston has received multiple graduate degrees, including a Ph.D. in education (2013) from Capella University, a master of science in human development (2019) from North Carolina Central University and most recently her PsyD in clinical psychology and trauma (2024) from California Southern University.  

In addition to her time as a student at North Carolina Central, Reives-Houston also carried out multiple roles at the university, including as an assessment and instructional specialist/learner from 2016–2022 and as an adjunct instructor in psychology for the past two years, a role she still holds.  

Reives-Houston took over as the Behavioral Health Springboard director in May 2022 and has since helped facilitate the expansion of the Youth Mental Health First Aid training program at the University, a program that has helped numerous students and North Carolina citizens.  

“It was truly an honor being inducted into the 20-year society,” Reives-Houston said. “To reach this milestone in my professional career is one thing, but to have it openly celebrated by my employer was another. To have 20 years of state public service is a real testament to the commitment that I and other honorees have made to N.C. communities and organizations. It is not often to find settings that openly honor their employees for their years of service in this manner. I am truly appreciative of the recognition and unbelievably proud to be a part of the Carolina community and the 20-year Society.” 

Clinical Associate Professor Melissa Godwin 

Godwin, who received her bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico and master of social work degree from Boston University, has worked with Behavioral Health Springboard for nearly 20 years, in addition to other impactful work with the state. She has helped the state provide women’s gender responsive substance use disorder services since 2004, as well as training and technical assistance for those services. She joined BHS in 2007, coordinating the state’s federally funded WorkFirst/Child Protective Services Substance Abuse Initiative as part of the state’s Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services.  

Godwin, whose clinical work focuses on women’s outpatient substance use disorder treatment and direct practice in community health centers for high-risk pregnant women, has served as a clinical associate professor since July 2020.  

“Having this milestone of service at Carolina recognized was a welcome experience,” Godwin said. “I was not aware that there was a 20-Year Society, and that was a bit delightful. 

“I brought my 15-year-old as my guest with the thought that the majority of careers spent in one place may be a rarer experience 20 years from now, and it may be a relevant historic experience.” 

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