Wayne State B.S.W. student wins NASW-MI scholarship for promoting diversity, social justice

The National Association of Social Workers – Michigan Chapter (NASW-MI) has named Wayne State Bachelor of Social Work student Alan Johns the B.S.W. recipient of its 2017-18 Student Leadership in Diversity Scholarship.

NASW-MI awards the scholarship annually to one B.S.W. and one M.S.W. student who demonstrate leadership through projects, research, or advocacy initiatives that promote diversity and social justice. Johns accepted his award from the organization on Nov. 1 in Lansing during the social work profession’s Legislative Education and Advocacy Day.

Johns was praised by NASW-MI for his “leadership, ambition, academic success, and celebration of diversity on all levels” as demonstrated by his community involvement, commitment to education, and leadership and advocacy with African American children and fathers in the Detroit area. Johns worked for more than five years as a program facilitator with The Yunion, a Detroit-based nonprofit serving youth and families. While there, he led group-based training sessions for middle- and high-school students in abstinence and life skills that included establishing short and long-term goals, decision-making, sexual reproduction education, financial literacy, and interpersonal relationships from a strength-based resiliency approach.

Johns, who is helping to organize a discussion series on cross-neighborhood cohesion in Southwest Detroit through the Congress of Communities and working to develop community youth engagement strategy at his field placement, Chadsey Condon Community Organization, has enhanced his degree program work in a number of innovative ways. Upon the recommendation of Associate Professor Richard Smith, he served as a summer student intern to Jeannine La Prad, president and CEO of Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, and he completed a directed study on disparities and resiliency factors of African American males with Assistant Professor Jamey Lister.

“The attribute that stands out most to me about Alan is his desire and passion to help diverse and disadvantaged populations,” Lister told NASW-MI when recommending Johns for the diversity scholarship. “He takes on all opportunities that can advance and empower marginalized populations with a particular emphasis on promoting social justice for African American men. In specifics regarding his research, Alan has evidenced a long-term focus, which has placed him ahead of the typical B.S.W.-level training. His vision and work ethic are affording him the possibility to become a game-changing social justice researcher.”

Johns, who hopes to serve the City of Detroit as a social worker by, among other things, helping to integrate social systems and streamline services to eliminate redundancies and stretch resources, has also accepted a role as a U-Link Advocate for NASW-MI. U-Link is an initiative that identifies student leaders from each social work program in Michigan who will serve as a link between their respective program and the National Association of Social Workers.

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