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Congratulations to the 2015 Student Leadership in Diversity Scholarship Recipients

Monday, December 14, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Duane Breijak
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Each year NASW-Michigan has the privilege of awarding exceptional students with the Student Leadership in Diversity Award. On November 11th, two remarkable student leaders were recognized, MSW recipient Sarah Hicks and BSW recipient Brialle Ringer, in front of their peers and colleagues across the state at the Legislative Education & Advocacy Day in Lansing.


MSW Recipient: Sarah Hicks


Sarah Hicks began the Advanced Standing MSW program at Grand Valley State University this fall, but she has already accomplished significant achievements before and during her undergraduate academic career at GVSU. Before she began work on her BSW, Sarah had already been a social visit and respite care volunteer with Harbor Hospice of Muskegon. Simultaneously, she volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, working with the office staff and home-buyers to fundraise and track volunteer hours and worksite builds.


As an undergraduate, Sarah strengthened her understanding of racism, discrimination, and immigration as a study abroad a study abroad student in El Salvador, resulting in an even stronger, outspoken advocate for immigrant rights. Her BSW field placement at the Mercy Health McClees Clinic in Muskegon furthered her goal of working as a medical social worker. At the McClees Clinic, she engaged with individuals who are HIV positive. She made a lasting difference at the clinic by identifying a gap in services for heterosexual women are HIV positive, and by launching a smoking cessation program tailored towards the unique needs of the community. This program, which Sarah researched and designed, was implemented with grant funding during her field placement. 


In addition to her work with the LGBT community, she also engaged with individuals who are experiencing homelessness. At a “Point in Time” homeless count event, she identified individuals who were not accessing available resources, connected them to services, and worked to secure funding for those programs. Her BSW field supervisor notes how exceptionally she served, exceeding expectations in program planning, leadership, and client advocacy.


As Sarah works toward her MSW, she continues to find ways to engage with populations in need, providing outreach and education for people to reach more people in need. She currently has her LLBSW and is employed by the Alzheimer’s Association as a program coordinator and care consultant.


BSW Recipient: Brialle Ringer


Brialle Ringer is a BSW student at Eastern Michigan University who has channeled her personal experiences with marginalization and resource insecurity into a desire to serve others as she builds a career in social justice advocacy. At EMU, she is in the Honors College, working towards her degree in social work with a minor in psychology while also serving as member of the student government and achieving the Dean’s List six consecutive semesters. Additionally, she has been a McNair Scholar since 2013 and is the youngest student to publish in EMU’s McNair Scholars Research Journal, researching and proposing an intervention pertaining to the high risk of sexually transmitted infections among African American women, who are underserved without culturally specific prevention interventions.


Housing insecurity is a chief interest of Brialle’s. In 2014, she became an Alternative Spring Break Coordinator and planned three volunteer trips with the issue focus “Promoting the Well-Being of Housing Insecure Individuals”. In July 2015, she served as a coordinator and site leader for a ten day Alternative International Break in Haiti, where she worked on youth empowerment and advocacy. As Brialle works completes her BSW, she is working closely with faculty to put her research on homelessness into action. Her faculty mentor notes she will be “exploring best practices at other universities for serving homeless college students, developing a comprehensive action agenda with stakeholders on campus, and advocating to the Board of Regents for an improved institutional response to students with housing insecurity problems.”


It is with great honor that NASW-Michigan awards the 2015 Student Leadership in Diversity Scholarships to Sarah Hicks and Brialle Ringer. Congratulations!

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