More than $115,000 awarded to six students who help underserved populations

Minneapolis—September 16, 2014Walden University is awarding six Barbara Solomon Scholarships for Social Work to outstanding students who demonstrate a proven commitment to helping the underserved. Named to honor social work pioneer and longtime Walden board member Dr. Barbara Solomon, who dedicated her 50-year career in social work to empowering minority and underserved communities, the scholarships total approximately $118,000, including two full-tuition awards.

“Social workers are important collaborators who tackle most of the challenges people encounter,” said Dr. Savitri Dixon-Saxon, associate dean of the School of Social Work and Human Services. “These exemplary students represent agents of change who are making a difference in the well-being of individuals, families and communities. Their advanced degrees in social work will help them continue to address societal problems as scholar-practitioners.”

The scholarships were available for Walden’s online Master of Social Work (MSW) program, which was recently granted candidacy status from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) and PhD in Social Work programs offered through Walden’s School of Social Work and Human Services.

The three doctoral recipients of the Barbara Solomon Scholarships for Social Work are:

  • Karen Haley, a new PhD in Social Work student who received a full-tuition scholarship, is a high school clinical social worker at Regional School Unit #73 in Chesterville, Maine, and also serves as a liaison for homeless youth and families in a rural region of the state. Karen plans to use her degree to continue ensuring that children whose families are experiencing homelessness do not also experience disruption in their education as a result. Her doctoral degree also will allow her to teach courses at a local college. She believes it is imperative to educate new social workers on a community level to help them gain an understanding of the socioeconomic struggles that many families in her area of the country face.
  • Phernel Manigat, a new PhD in Social Work student who received a $10,000 scholarship, is a supervisor at the Department of Children and Families in Brockton, Massachusetts. After fighting for social change in his native Haiti for decades, he has helped families bridge social and racial disparities in the U.S. for more than 17 years. Phernel plans to use his doctoral degree to broaden his knowledge and obtain the skills and credentials to be able to teach at the university level as well as to train social workers to help families gain the efficacy to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
  • Makoto Ikegami, a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) student who received a $5,000 scholarship, is currently an outpatient therapist at PAHrtners Deaf Services and PAHrtners’ Residential Treatment Facility in Glenside, Pennsylvania. Having received his MSW from Gallaudet University, Makoto would like to use his doctoral degree from Walden to help educate the community about the clinical issue of mental health services for deaf and hard-of-hearing people as well as to develop a curriculum that trains students who have a desire to become social workers and/or individuals who work with deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

The three master’s degree level recipients of the Barbara Solomon Scholarships for Social Work are:

  • Maria Ponzi, a new MSW student who received a full-tuition scholarship, is currently a health educator at Adagio Health in Youngstown, Ohio, providing prevention education to youth about HIV/AIDS, STDs and unintended pregnancy. Maria would like to use her advanced degree to transition into a case management position where she can understand and deal with the atypical situations of those affected by HIV/AIDS in her community.
  • Jennifer Deas, an MSW student who received a $10,000 scholarship, is currently an early student engagement coordinator at Euphoria Institute of Beauty Arts and Sciences in Las Vegas. Jennifer’s compassion for single mothers inspires her to pursue an advanced degree so that she can advocate for policy change, be in a better financial situation to donate or sponsor single mothers and start a scholarship fund of her own to support this underserved population who may battle mental illness, poverty, low self-esteem as well as poor coping skills..
  • Connie Davis, an MSW student who received a $5,000 scholarship, is currently a Community That Cares project assistant manager at Sinnissippi Centers in Oregon, Illinois. Connie plans to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), which she says will help open many doors for her to move forward in working with the lower-income and poverty-level youth who also live in the multi-county, 2,500 square mile rural locale in northwestern Illinois that is designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area.

To be considered for the scholarships, applicants were asked to submit an essay that described their past or present service to a community or organization, impact on social change and desire to help underserved populations. The essays were also to focus on how a social worker can help address a potential problem or issue as well as how professionals inside and outside of social work can work collaboratively.

These scholarships are part of Walden’s commitment to making education more accessible and affordable for those who want to learn online. Walden is offering millions of dollars in grants, scholarships and tuition assistance in 2014 to help support its students. To learn more about Walden’s tuition savings opportunities, visit www.WaldenU.edu/savings or call an enrollment advisor at 1-855-203-7874.

About Walden University
For more than 40 years, Walden University has supported working professionals in achieving their academic goals and making a greater impact in their professions and their communities. Today, more than 50,000 students from all 50 states and more than 150 countries are pursuing their bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees online at Walden. The university provides students with an engaging educational experience that connects them with expert faculty and peers around the world. Walden is the flagship online university in the Laureate International Universities network—a global network of more than 75 campus-based and online universities in 29 countries.

Walden offers more than 80 degree programs with more than 370 specializations and concentrations. Areas of study include health sciences, counseling, human services, management, psychology, social work, education, public health, nursing, public administration and information technology. For more information, visit www.WaldenU.edu. Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association, www.hlcommission.org.

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