Wayne State School of Social Work announces 2024 MSW and BSW Students of the Year

The Wayne State University School of Social Work is proud to announce the 2024 MSW and BSW Students of the Year, Dorothy Vandekieft (MSW) and Sydney Nowak (BSW).

Annually, undergraduate and graduate level students are nominated to receive the NASW-Michigan Social Work Student of the Year Award from each Michigan area university. Students are nominated by the Warrior Community and selected based on their demonstrated leadership qualities, contribution to the positive image of our social work program, commitment to political and community activities, academic performance, and the degree to which the student represents professional social work ethics. Recipients of the 2024 awards will be recognized by their home university and the NASW-MI chapter at a celebration event on Friday, April 12, 2024 from 6 – 8 pm EST. Awardees, their guests, and university representatives are invited to attend the in-person ceremony (Lansing, MI). The social work community and general public are invited to register for the live viewing of the awards ceremony via Zoom.

This year we would also like to recognize additional nominated students for this award. We thank them for their hard work and dedication to the field of social work and the School. BSW student nominees included Malak Alrifai, Citlalli Cervantes Alvarado, Zarin Chowduary, Hunter Colden, Joselyn Cortes-Samano, Maria Garcia-Rivera, Andria Garwood, Renee Hysko, Stefanie Jefferson, Amanda Mies, Sydney Nowak, Grace Perreault, Kayla Slayton, LeeAnn Taylor, Erika Vallie, and Lee Yang. MSW student nominees included Brooke Bandy, Alondra Barajas, Elizabeth Crenshaw, Jesus Cruz-Navarro, Molly Dean, Alexshay Edwards, Mia C. Flores, Ovvarshia Gray-Woods, Elizabeth Johnson, Capreece Roper, and Eliana Zambito.

MSW student award recipient

Dorothy VanderkieftDorothy Vandekieft (she/her) is an MSW student who has displayed remarkable academic achievements, authentic leadership qualities, active involvement in political and community activities, and steadfast commitment to the professional ethics of social work, as outlined in the NASW Code of Ethics. In both classroom settings and group projects, Dorothy exhibits exceptional leadership, consistently arriving prepared and elevating discussions. Her writing skills make her one of the program's top students, and she demonstrates natural leadership by mentoring peers and fostering inclusivity. Beyond academics, Dorothy actively engages in political and community activities, advocating for social justice and making a difference in the community. A fellow student noted “Dorothy's leadership is evident through her dedication to guiding and supporting fellow students both within and outside of her role in the Social Work Peer Support program. She is actively engaged in on-campus activities, advocacy, and organizing, and her presence makes Wayne State's campus a more inviting place.”

BSW student award recipient

Sydney NowakSydney Nowak (she/her) is a BSW student who recognizes and implements the ethical standards established by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) to navigate ethical dilemmas and challenges in social work practice. Throughout her internship with Michigan Humane, Sydney has consistently applied the NASW Code of Ethics. This ethical framework has guided her decision-making, including advocating for clients, seeking relevant policies and services, gaining cultural competence, upholding responsibilities to coworkers, and collaborating with organizations to enhance opportunities for underserved populations. In her role as a Social Work Peer Support Mentor at Wayne State, Sydney utilizes her leadership, collaborative problem-solving, interpersonal, and macro skills to support her peers in their growth. Serving as an ambassador of professional values, she considers it an honor to contribute to her community while upholding the ethical standards of NASW. Sydney expresses gratitude for the consideration of her dedication and commitment to social work.

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