Help Students Prepare for an Important Role
As the country marks one-year since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, we are taking this March – Social Work Month – to recognize the essential role social workers play in caring for and healing our society. Social workers have been on the frontlines of the healthcare, economic, racial justice, and now mental health crises here in Nevada and across the nation, and will be critical to guiding the recovery on an individual and systemic level to ensure we come through this time stronger and more resilient than ever before. School of Social Work is incredibly proud of the work our alumni, friends, faculty, and students have done this past year in the face of unprecedented challenges.
However, the State of Nevada still faces a shortage of qualified social workers, which will be felt more acutely in these coming months and years. We are pleased that through these hard times, more students have enrolled in our programs to meet this need and make a difference in their community. But they have faced their own challenges as they pursue their academic goals. Our students are in greater need now more than ever of financial aid and scholarship support. Your gift to support scholarships will have a significant impact on a student’s academic and career goals.
Who is Barbara West Larsen?
In the late 1960s, Professor Emerita Barbara West Larsen helped establish the School of Social Work within the College of Arts and Sciences. Her journey to this profession began by shadowing her father on his medical rounds and seeing him accept potatoes as payment when needed. Her family recalls that this passion for helping anyone in need extended to every reach of her life, with a trip to the grocery store frequently including rescuing a lost animal or a fellow human in need. As a social worker, she dedicated herself to child welfare and later to her students who would continue to promote the welfare, health and safety of the community. She taught social work at the University of Nevada, Reno for over 25 years, retiring as a professor emerita after serving as the School's Chairperson. After her passing in 2011, her family established the Barbara West Larsen School of Social Work Founder's Endowment to continue her legacy of support for the next generation of social workers by providing scholarship support. None of our work would have been possible without Professor Larsen’s work and dedication. To honor our origins and celebrate this profession, please consider making a gift to extend the reach of this scholarship and grow its impact.
The Future is Bright
Though it has been a difficult year, there is still much to look forward to and reason to be hopeful about the future for our students and the School of Social Work. Despite the virtual environment, our student groups organize events and take action on the issues they care about most – whether that was creating a speaker series or adjusting their field placement to respond to the pandemic. One current BSW student, Bianca, responded to last summer’s protests by taking classes like “Structural Oppression and Children and Families in a Multiethnic Society where I really developed a deeper understanding of not just my own privilege but the much harder walk of life those of color have experienced and sadly, continue to experience. As a future social worker, I plan to not only be aware and openly acknowledge my own privilege in my life, but it is now one of my goals to stand with those who are being oppressed and hold the door for you.”
We saw our enrollment increase to over 800 students and have had 16 new faculty and staff join the school, most recently our new Associate Dean, Lillian Winchinsky. We are also pleased to announce that the School of Social Work will be getting a new home on campus as a building is renovated to suit our needs on the main campus, though we will be maintaining our presence at the Redfield campus. We look forward to providing updates. With this, we look forward to increasing the resources we offer to our students and the community, which we can only do with your help and partnership.
Thank you for your on-going support of the School of Social Work and our students through a gift to the Barbara West Larsen School of Social Work Founder’s Endowment. For more information about supporting the School of Social Work, please contact Jillian Szewczak at firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 682-7178.
*Photos taken prior to social distancing guidelines.