Social Work Newsletter 2019-20

News from the UMD Department of Social Work 2019-2020

Promoting Human Well-Being, Advancing Social Justice and Pursuing Culturally Responsive Practice

Welcome to our second annual e-newsletter! We're excited to share with you the exciting work that is taking place in the UMD Department of Social Work. Please explore the links below and see what we have been up to in the past year.

Student News

Kellsey Clark

Kellsey Clark is a student in the MSW program this year. She graduated in spring 2019 with a Bachelor of Social Work degree at UMD. As an undergraduate student, Kellsey was a student in the University Honors Program, and her senior capstone project involved work at Neighborhood Youth Services (NYS). Please read more about Kellsey's work and research.


Students at Southern Philippines Agribusiness and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology
BSW Students Kennedi Mercil & Sydney Bartz holding up books they collected during a drive

The BSW Student Association has been working hard to send Social Work textbooks overseas to the Philippines. Late last year the association was asked to organize a shipment of textbooks to a new Social Work Program at the Southern Philippines Agribusiness and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology. Amelyn Laro, a Social Work lecturer who visited our program several years ago, was in dire need of books for an undergraduate Social Work program she recently started. BSW student Kennedi Mercil coordinated the drive, and after contacting libraries and bookstores, seeking out donations, and door knocking, roughly 50 books have been acquired.


Current Clinical Scholars

Currently 11 Graduate MSW students are undergoing specialized training and each receive $10,000 stipends towards tuition through the Department of Social Work Clinical Scholars Program. Dr. Lake Dziengel, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, is the Project Director for the program, and received a continuing award notification from the Health Resources Services Administration Grant of $166,667 for the 2019-20 Academic year. The $667,000 4-year grant aims to train 40 MSW students who will then seek employment to provide mental health services in underserved communities upon graduation.


Hillary Olsen &  Jim Amell; Taylor McClung & Jim Amell; George Peterson, Jim Amell, & Jill Pinkney Pastrana

MSW students Hillary Olsen and Taylor McClung were the recipients of the Graduate Council Teaching Fellowship this year, which consists of an annual graduate assistantship and a tuition scholarship. MSW student George Peterson was the recipient of the Will Dodge Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship was established to support Social Work students with experience, expertise, and long-term interests in grassroots and community organizing.

"I am extremely grateful to be receiving the Graduate Council Teaching Fellowship and for all the amazing professors and staff in the UMD SW department! I chose to pursue an MSW because I love the job flexibility of social work and I am passionate about social justice, as well as (not to sound too cliché or patronizing) helping others. After graduation, I hope to work with Indigenous communities."
Hillary Olsen

"I am incredibly grateful and honored to have been selected to receive the GCTF throughout my two years at UMD. This fellowship has provided me with invaluable experiences and learning opportunities. I am pursuing a path in social work because I am committed to social justice and want to work alongside others to help them make positive life changes. After graduation, I would like to work in child welfare, with the eventual goal of pursuing a doctoral degree and teaching down the road."
Taylor McClung

"Social work appeals to me because it is an active way to work towards healthier communities. Seeing a client make changes in ways that are meaningful to them is very inspiring and keeps me motivated to do this work. I've also really enjoyed implementing the skills I'm learning in the Master of Social Work program with clients and am excited to keep growing as I go through the program!"
George Peterson

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Faculty & Staff News

Sara Lien and Courtney Cochran

Welcome to our new Field Director, Sara Lien, and to our new Associate Field Director, Courtney Cochran! Sara joined the department in 2018 as the Associate Field Director and became Field Director in August of 2019. Courtney joined the department as Associate Field Director in September of 2019. 



Sandra van den Bosse and two Social Work students, all 3 wearing a blue t-shirt that reads "I pledge to vote"

When Sandra van den Bosse, BSW Director and Instructor, gets "ticked off" about injustice, she stands up and takes action. Read more about Sandra's work in the department and in the community.



Lake Dziengel

Lake Dziengel, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, had a chapter titled Love and Losses in an edited text, Queer Social Work: Cases for LGBTQ+ Affirmative Practice, published by Columbia University Press, New York. The text was released and showcased at the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Annual Meeting in Denver in October, 2019.




Estelle Simard

Estelle Simard, MSW, EdD Candidate, is a Visiting Faculty member in the department. She is from the Anishinaabe Nation, from the territory of Treaty #3, and a member of Couchiching First Nation. Estelle's experience is in the culturally competent management of integrated children's mental health and child welfare services. Her work includes Culturally Restorative Child Welfare Practice: A Special Emphasis on Cultural Attachment Theory, as well as Developing a Culturally Restorative Approach to Aboriginal Child and Youth Development: Transitions to Adulthood.



Jennifer McCleary

The research of Jennifer McCleary, Assistant Professor, focuses on refugee resettlement and refugee community development. Jennifer's current projects explore the different risk and protective factors that impact Karen refugee youth who engage in harmful drug and alcohol use as well as evaluating substance abuse programs for Karen refugees. Jennifer is interviewed in a Duluth News Tribune article about the St. Louis County refugee resettlement consent vote. Her work also includes Exploring intergenerational communication and stress in refugee families, The Karen Chemical Dependency Collaboration: Lessons Learned in Using a Collaborative Framework to Promote Refugee Integration, as well as Forced Displacement and Alcohol Use in Two Karen Refugee Communities: A Comparative Qualitative Study.

Alumni News

Sara Lien giving Katie Onofreychuk the Outstanding MSW Field Supervisor award

Congratulations to Katie Onofreychuk, MSW (2013), LICSW who was awarded the 10th annual Outstanding MSW Field Supervisor in the fall during the annual field supervisor training event. Katie is now the Clinical Director for the Human Development Center. Previously she worked with Essentia's Behavioral Health programs, where she supervised the student who nominated her, Paige Wright.

Many alumni, faculty and staff gathered in October, 2019 for our annual alumni lunch during the St. Louis County Health and Human Services Conference. It is wonderful to see everyone each year! Read about the impact our alumni are making in their communities.

Center for Regional & Tribal Child Welfare Studies News

American Indian mother and children reading a book together

There are many wonderful projects happening in the Center for Regional & Tribal Child Welfare Studies. The Center received another National Child Welfare Workforce Initiative (NCWWI) grant; this one focuses on partnership with the Leech Lake Child Welfare Program and provides stipend payments for 17 BSW/MSW students.



An American Indian family, smiling

The Center is also in partnership with the Department of Human Services and the Center for Advanced Child Welfare Studies to develop a Tribal Child Welfare Training Partnership, which will develop and implement tribal and public child welfare workforce training.