More than 25 first responders from the Loyola and Tulane university communities were honored with a "Just Desserts" reception as students from the Tulane School of Social Work held a special "First Responder Appreciation" event at the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life on the Tulane University uptown campus.
"We have a tendency here to work with our community in a proactive way, and it's great to know that they appreciate what we're doing," said Richard Potts, chief of police with the Tulane University Police Department. "It is just nice to have something like this. Self-care is so important for our officers, and a lot of times just talking to each other helps a lot."
A trailblazer for African Americans in social work, the late Jeannette Jennings created a legacy of breaking barriers and advocating for the disenfranchised. Now, a new scholarship spearheaded by Roger and Carol Nooe will honor Jennings’ legacy and help the Tulane University School of Social Work further achieve its goal of diversity.
The endowed scholarship was established by a generous gift from the Delta Foundation through the efforts of the Nooes. Recipients will be selected based on need, with preference given to students from underrepresented groups at Tulane.
Tulane University alumnus and social work adjunct professor Philip Hemphill has earned national attention with the recent publication of his first book, Taming Disruptive Behavior.
The book discusses ways healthcare industry managers, organizational leaders and physicians can identify and eliminate disruptive behavior in the workplace. This behavior, including harassment, threatening treatment of co-workers and other inappropriate actions, can have a major impact on patient care and outcomes.
“To be able to generate this resource that is responsive to the needs of the healthcare community and gain national attention by some of the leaders in the field has been exciting,” says Hemphill, who holds a master’s degree and a PhD in social work from Tulane. “There is a real need for this kind of work, so I’m happy to provide this resource.”
The Muslim community is one of the fastest growing, with seven million members in the United States and 1.5 billion worldwide. They represent a variety of racial backgrounds including people of African American, South Asian and Arab descent.
To better understand culturally competent practice with such a diverse community, the Tulane University School of Social Work’s Office of Global Programs held a one-hour presentation on July 30. Two local Muslim social work professionals gave students a chance to learn about working with the Muslim community.
When Tulane University alumna Crysty Skevington began work as the Red Cross’ grants associate for the Sandy Hurricane Relief Long Term Recovery Program this summer, it marked not only an important milestone in her life but also for the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy housed at the Tulane School of Social Work.
Skevington graduated from the master’s program in August 2012, and now she’ll use her unique disaster communications skills to help hurricane survivors.
When she moved from Orange County, Calif., to New Orleans in 2010 to enroll in the Tulane University School of Social Work, Amanda Karistai had no idea how to prepare for a hurricane. But now she’s a seasoned expert.
Karistai earned a Certificate in Disaster Mental Health along with her master of social work degree in 2011. She shared her hurricane preparedness research from her professional project along with personal tips with a group of about 35 social work students on Thursday (June 27) as part of a special learning experience provided by the Tulane University Institute for Psychosocial Health.
Each summer, the Tulane Center for Public Service and the Tulane School of Social Work offer a unique, three-week course in India that provides students with eye-opening experiences through service to Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala.
The “India: Compassion in Action” service program pairs Tulane students with Tibetan refugees as English-as-a-second-language tutors, among other social-assistance activities that are more than just general volunteerism, says program coordinator Michael D. Smith.
For Tulane University social work professor Charles Figley, a world-renowned trauma expert, this spring marked an important milestone in his research and professional career. He published the comprehensive Encyclopedia of Trauma that can be used by everyone from academia to Main Street.
Saying that it was five years in the making, Figley adds that the 904-page book has a uniquely Tulane favor with many Tulane faculty members on the editorial board.
When Tulane University integrated in 1963, some of the first African American students to matriculate did so through the Tulane School of Social Work, a distinction celebrated last week during the school’s annual field instructor workshop.
“We are proud that social work students had a hand in integrating the school and they went on to have great careers,” says Heather Gillis, clinical assistant professor and director of field education at the school.
A group of nearly 600 mental health professionals engaged with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama during a panel discussion that culminated a special conference about resilience organized by the Tulane School of Social Work on Friday (May 17) during his visit to New Orleans.
World-renowned trauma expert Margaret Wheatley and research psychiatrist Richard Davidson flanked the spiritual leader of 8 million Tibetan Buddhists during the discussion that ranged from the meaning of life to global warming to how to gain peace of mind.
Monks from India's Drepung Monastery carefully apply grains of sand to a mandala they are creating in the Morial Convention Center in downtown New Orleans. The monks are in town as part of a conference hosted by the Tulane School of Social Work and in conjunction with the Dalai Lama's visit to the city.
Wherever he visits, the Dalai Lama is welcomed by strings of prayer flags. The Tibetan word for these colorful cloths is "lung ta," which literally translates into "wind horse." In the video below, Ron Marks, the dean of the Tulane School of Social Work, talks about the significance of prayer flags and what they can mean to a community that displays them. Marks has conducted a graduate-level course in northern India for more than 10 years. It was at his invitation that the Dalai Lama is visiting New Orleans to speak at the Tulane Unified Commencement Ceremony on Saturday (May 18).
When His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama gives the keynote address at the Tulane University Unified Commencement Ceremony on Saturday (May 18), master of social work graduate Katie Templet will hear him speak with distinct understanding. She is one of seven master of social work part-time students who took part in the monthlong, in-country course that examines the cultural and contextual issues of Tibetan refugees in North India.
The School of Social Work is decorated with prayer flag in anticipation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's visit to New Orleans on May 16-18. The visit is a direct result of relationships the School of Social Work has formed during 12 years of working with the Tibetan exile community in Dharamsala, India.
After a disaster, much of the rebuilding conversation centers on immediate tasks — fixing homes, opening businesses, repairing roads. But relationships also need attention, a leading trauma expert recently told a group of therapists during a training session sponsored by the Porter-Cason Institute in the Tulane School of Social Work.
Couples and families bear a heavy burden during times of trouble, said George Faller, who led the four-day Outreach Externship in Emotionally Focused Therapy at the Bea Field Alumni House on the Tulane uptown campus.
Israel is nearly 7,000 miles from Tulane University, but Ron Marks, dean of the School of Social Work, could think of no better place to study trauma than a land that lives with traumatic events, or at least the threat of them, 24 hours a day.
So Marks and Charles Figley, director of the Tulane Traumatology Institute, traveled to Tel Aviv recently to launch an exhaustive study on how Israelis cope with traumatic stress.
Caroline Jhingory, a 2005 graduate of the Tulane School of Social Work, says the inspiration for her new book, Half My Size: How I Ate to Lose 150 Pounds, came through her ability to lose weight and keep it off by adjusting to a healthier lifestyle. She also attributes the skills she’s developed as a motivator to her training as a social worker.
“I’m constantly saying and implementing things that I’ve learned from Tulane,” says Jhingory. “The biggest thing that I learned as a social worker is having empathy with people. I’m certainly able to use that in the weight loss world in terms of motivating people.”
When Jane Parker, director of the Institute for Psychosocial Health at the Tulane School of Social Work, thought of the concept of a boot camp, the words “rough” and “difficult” came to mind. She wanted a much more soothing title for her self-care workshop for social workers.
So she dubbed it “Slipper Camp” and invited participants to ditch their heels in favor of warm, snuggly and even silly-looking bedroom slippers.
“If we’re not taking care of ourselves,” Parker said, “we’re more likely to make poor judgments and burn out.”
Madeline Lee’s passion is helping vulnerable children and families who are navigating the crossroads of child welfare, mental health and special education systems, and thanks to a new Tulane professorship, she’ll have some extra support to do that.
The newly created Sonja Bilger Romanowski Professorship in Social Work at Tulane University will be used to support the research and scholarship of faculty members in the early stages of their careers. Appointments are for three-year periods.
Since she was 15, Lisa Baker has worked to help adults and children with disabilities. Thanks to her professional project at the Tulane School of Social Work, she was able to advance her passion. Baker is one of 85 master of social work graduates who will receive their diplomas on Friday (Dec. 14).
“It was really successful, and we were fortunate to have a lot of community and agency support to pull the event together in such a short period of time,” Baker says.
On Nov. 16, fire chief Bob Sinnott posted the following on the web site of the Silverton (New Jersey) Volunteer Fire Department No. 1: “Our community was beautiful and now so gloomy. We are pulling together to help each other empty our homes to rebuild them. We all have lost something but will restore our community.”
The Silverton fire department is located in Tom’s River, N.J., an area devastated when Hurricane Sandy blew ashore in late October. Sinnott’s words, evoking sadness, resignation and determination, are indicative of the complexity of emotions experienced by responders and caregivers in a disaster zone.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters and deliver the keynote address to graduates at Tulane University’s 2013 Commencement, which will take place at 9 a.m., May 18 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“We are honored and excited to host a leader of such universal renown, whose wisdom, humility, kindness and humor have won him worldwide admiration,” Tulane President Scott Cowen said. “The Dalai Lama’s message of compassion, humanity, equality, peace and service truly resonates with the Tulane community and its graduates.”
ResilientAfrica, a consortium that includes Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy, Makerere University in Uganda, Stanford University and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has been awarded a $25 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to apply science and technology to strengthen the resilience of African communities against natural and man-made stresses.
ResilientAfrica will unite 20 African universities in 16 countries, representing over 300,000 students and faculty members, to form a network to empower African communities.
The Tulane Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy and the Tulane Green Club recently gained the attention of the international community. Both were featured in videos discussing the resiliency of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Charles Figley, co-director of Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA), appears in a short film titled “Katrina Seven Years Later: Stories of Resiliency.” It was produced by the Tzu Chi Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on charity, medicine, education and humanistic culture.
Part of Tulane since 1927, the School of Social Work is more globally focused than ever before. Now it can expand its international ties, as the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy joined social work on July 1.
Social work dean Ron Marks is happy to embrace the new relationship with DRLA and its executive director, Ky Luu, who came to Tulane in 2009 to develop the academy and train global leaders in disaster risk management.
South Africa has the largest population of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS on the African continent. Millions of dollars go into programs designed to help them and their families, but are the programs working? Tonya Thurman, a new School of Social Work researcher, is stationed there to study that vital question.
Thurman, a Tulane alumna who founded the Tulane International office in Durban, South Africa, is now a research associate professor in social work.
Nearly 20 years after the Rwandan genocide, social work is an emerging field in the country. Beata Mukamurenzi and Charles Kalinganire, two social work professors from the National University of Rwanda, shared their stories about the role of social work in a postgenocide society during a presentation at Tulane University.
The duo spoke on Tuesday (July 10) to more than 50 students and faculty as part of an annual study tour sponsored by the School of Social Work and the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane. The professors attend classes, work with field agencies and interact with Tulane faculty to learn about best practices.
A group of 14 students is taking part in the Compassion in Action India Summer Program, which takes students to Dharamsala, India, and other places in Himachal Pradesh each summer for a month.
Rising junior Teresa Palkowski, who has always dreamed of going to India, during her first trip there with the program heard the Dalai Lama deliver a lesson at his temple.
“This trip has been an invaluable experience, specifically because of how well-rounded it has been. What makes this trip truly humbling is that these people are genuinely happy and peaceful people despite the poverty they face,” says Palkowski. “Traveling to different parts of India reinforces the Buddhist philosophy that neither the accumulation of material possessions nor fixation over negative feelings will equate to happiness. I have learned from my mutual learning partner, who is one of the Dalai Lama’s nuns, that happiness is simply a state of mind.”
Recently retired Air Force social worker Lisa Sayegh has more than 25 years of experience with active duty military and veterans, and she is bringing that experience to the Tulane School of Social Work with a new military social work elective.
The elective, “Clinical-Community Approaches to Working With Military Populations,” is a first-time offering in social work at Tulane that contributes to a rapidly growing field of study and practice.
Leah Krandel’s passion for addressing issues of diversity rings true in every word she speaks. For three months this fall, she took that passion to South Africa as part of her global field placement. Krandel is one of 91 students who graduated from the Tulane School of Social Work on Friday (Dec. 9)..
What started off as a trip to learn about public protest and how to advocate through discussions with elected officials turned into witnessing the beginning of an ongoing national movement as seven social work students traveled to Washington, D.C.
Led by social work assistant dean Julianna Padgett and adjunct faculty member Nancy Thacker, seven students participated in the “Stop the Machine” protests from Oct. 6 to 9. Those protests quickly became closely aligned with the worldwide Occupy Wall Street movement.
Takashi Fujioka, a visiting scholar from Japan who specializes in social work burnout prevention, has designed a new method for monitoring mental health professionals working in a disaster zone. Fujioka spent several months in New Orleans working with the Tulane Traumatology Institute at the Tulane School of Social Work to help mental health professionals in Japan after the recent earthquake and tsunami.
A professor of social work at the Japan College of Social Work, Fujioka survived the March 11 earthquake disaster. “It was like a slow-moving horror show,” he says.
To learn best practices in social work, a trio of professors from the National University of Rwanda School of Social Work spent the month of July at Tulane University on a study tour. In Rwanda, social work is a new profession formed in 1999 in response to the country’s mental health needs following the 1994 genocide.
“Although they had psychologists and counselors trained, the knowledge needed to attend to the psychosocial care needs of the population was very limited,” says So’Nia Gilkey, an assistant professor of social work at Tulane and study tour coordinator. “Social work seemed to be the best fit to get people trained to meet those needs.”.
When social work student Tonia Tillman graduates with her eight fellow part-time students, it will be the end of a journey she calls one of the most important of her life.
Tillman commuted two nights a week for three years from Plaquemine, La., to attend night classes while working a full-time job as a paraprofessional with Ascension Parish. She also competed a field internship on Monday evenings and Saturdays, in pursuit of a master’s degree in social work. So what would inspire a person to create such a schedule?
Secluded from the hustle and bustle of family life and university obligations, four women on the Tulane faculty have created for themselves a citadel of constructive criticism, founded on a platform of mutual trust, respect and goodwill.
Katie Acosta, Nghana Lewis, Beretta Smith-Shomade and Social Work Assistant Professor Rebecca Chaisson have united in what they call the “Sistah Circle,” a newly formalized writing group. Through the support of the Newcomb Center for Research on Women, the group meets monthly at A Studio in the Woods retreat center.
Less than a month after the 2010 Haitian earthquake, two Tulane students listened intently as a pair of earthquake survivors told their story and implored the New Orleans community to help in any way it could. They answered the call with their professional project.
Before their December 2010 graduation from the School of Social Work, Tuyl Fletchinger and Jordan Matevich created a culturally specific, arts-based HeARTs With Haiti curriculum to help Haitian children express and process the trauma they experienced and are still experiencing.
Clinical social worker Isabella Christodoulou loves coming to work each day, and one reason is the effectiveness of her “guerilla therapy” to reach New Orleans’ homeless and at-risk youth who flock to the Drop-In Center on North Rampart Street, on the edge of the French Quarter.
“It is fabulous to come to work every day because I don’t know what amazing person I’m going to meet next,” she says. “The main thing is that you have to engage people as quickly as possible because when an individual comes though, you don’t know if you are going to see them again."
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