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News & Press: NASW-Michigan News

Alan Johns & Hannah Mesa Receive the 2017 Student Leadership in Diversity Award

Friday, December 1, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Duane Breijak
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Each year NASW-Michigan has the privilege of awarding up to two exceptional students with the Student Leadership in Diversity Award. These $500 scholarships recognize and promote leaders among social work students who are working on projects, research, or advocacy initiatives that promote diversity and social justice. Students should demonstrate outstanding leadership qualities have an above average academic record, and be working to promote the ideals of social work and our Code of Ethics. The 2017 award winners have gone above and behind fulfilling all of these requirements. On November 1st, Alan Johns and Hannah Mesa were honored in front of their peers and colleagues at the Legislative Education & Advocacy Day in Lansing.


Alan Johns is a BSW candidate at Wayne State University’s School of Social Work. Alan was chosen as the BSW scholarship recipient for his dedication to dismantling institutional racism and discrimination, specifically in the city of Detroit. Through his research on dating violence, volunteer experience at a men’s support group dedicated to addiction rehabilitation, and work as a youth facilitator, Alan has strived to develop alliances, provide new opportunities, and to develop leadership programs for African Americans in Michigan.


In her recommendation letter, Wayne State University academic advisor Tamarie Willis said “Alan carries with him the responsibility to create social and political change in the city of Detroit. To give a voice to the voiceless and the marginalized…If you are around him for five minutes, he will inspire you to get out into the community and do something. Being a great social worker means you have the ability to look beyond yourself and see the need of others, then create a plan of action to bring about a resolution. Alan exemplifies those skills.”


Hannah Mesa is a MSW candidate at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Hannah has worked to understand and tackle the complex role that oppression plays in womens’ health, especially with women of color. Through her research, mentorship of community members (many facing language, cultural, and/or citizenship-based obstacles), and work as a birth doula, Hannah has helped to empower women to overcome adversities. After graduation, she hopes to start a non-profit women’s health center that provides educational resources, support for pregnant and new mothers, and serves as a community building space.


Teresa Sanchez-Snell of the University of Michigan Spanish Language Internship Program described Hannah as a “mature, well-disciplined, and industrious student. She desires to learn about cultures different from her own and makes it a priority to study outside of the United States… During her volunteer work, Hannah was committed to the work and mission of the community center and was not just interested in practicing her Spanish; she willingly put great effort into sharing her own talents, time, and resourcefulness with the Spanish speaking clients she was working with.”


Please join us in congratulating Alan and Hannah!

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