Helping students to become professionals never gets old for Shirley Simon.
An associate professor in Loyola’s School of Social Work, Simon has been serving as a mentor for graduate students since 2005 to help them prepare peer-reviewed posters and papers and then present their findings at conferences around the world.
This year marks the 100th student presentation, and the school invited all of the presenters back for a Nov. 5 reunion to celebrate the milestone.
“In the past, we’ve brought back the most recent group of presenters for a small recognition ceremony in the fall,” Simon says. “But now we’re inviting all of them back to celebrate their hard work.”
What started out as a small endeavor with just three students nearly a decade ago has blossomed into a program that now helps almost two dozen students a year. Simon teaches social work students how to prepare an abstract, submit it for consideration, conduct the research—and then compile all of that information and present it to peers and professionals at a symposium.
At the end of the process, Simon says, her students are truly transformed.
“They enter the conference a little anxious and unsure,” she says, “but they walk out feeling professional and competent and motivated to do more. This may be their first presentation, but it’s definitely not their last.”
Earlier this year, 20 Loyola students and recent alums traveled to Boston for an international symposium for social group workers. Nineteen of them made presentations—a number that far exceeded any other institution—and they discussed topics ranging from using dance therapy to help at-risk teens, to combining 12-step programs and group therapy to treat addiction.
For Joyce Webster, being part of the original group of students who went through the program in 2005 was a life-changing experience.
“It really helped me find my passion and helped me figure out exactly what I wanted to do,” Webster says.
Webster, who now teaches as an adjunct professor at the School of Social Work, is returning the favor by guiding the next generation of social workers through the research process.
“I’ve been through it myself, so I can relate to what they’re going through,” she says, “and it’s nice to be able to share my experiences with them.”
As for Simon, she hopes to continue mentoring students and helping them become forces in the field of social work.
“To me, it’s the essence of teaching,” she says. “I get a chance to help these students grow and develop and to watch them succeed. I’m so privileged to be a part of that process.”
Interested in Study Abroad with Loyola's MSW program? We offer study abroad opportunities in China, Italy, and Mexico. Learn more about our study abroad programs, and read our students' reflections from the 2012 Beijing trip.
Gayl Monto, MSW student
My trip to China was amazing. It was a very different experience than my other foreign travels. I feel lucky to have been able to see Asia in an educational and experiential context. I was fortunate to be able to travel to Shanghai prior to Beijing and to Xian to see the Terra Cotta Warriors.
Thank you to all the people and academics who coordinated this wonderful trip, especially to Lynn and Lily Boyle who made this trip very personal and special. Gayl's experience continues.
Karen Finstad, MSW student
My trip to China was a once in a lifetime experience. Not only did I visit the amazing sites of Beijing, including the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Summer Palace, the social work course on International Adoption, encompassed the importance of incorporating a global perspective into my education and future practice as a Social Worker. Combining lectures from local professors and field experiences, visiting the Chinese Center for Child Welfare and Adoption, local NGOs and orphanages could not be possible without the amazing staff at the Beijing Center, who made the trip seamless and eye-opening.
On both a personal and professional level, this trip gave me the opportunity to increase my cultural sensitivity while learning about China's political systems and eating it's amazing food with the dedicated students and staff here at Loyola.
April Gardner, MSW Student
Professionally, I learned many things from my trip. Learning about adoption policy and then being able to visit an orphanage, NGO’s (what we would call a non-profit agency), a surgical center, and the Chinese government was—to use informal language— unbelievably cool. I was humbled by how hospitable everyone was. The fact that a division of the Chinese government took the time to meet with a group of American students was a great honor. For more on April's journey.
Amy Chen, MSW Student
I cannot say enough about how informative, enriching, and meaningful our study abroad trip to China was this past summer, with our focus on Adoption Policy and Practice in a Global Context. Much of my educational background as well as heritage coincides with what I learned and experienced there, but seeing the vast potential of social work opportunities in China as mentioned through the speakers, government officials, coordinators and lecturers allowed me to see how the United States truly has a wealth of resources that we in this profession can offer them if we so choose.
Our trip additionally helped me gain a historical, as well as present-day, perspective as to how the field has developed as well as expanded on a global scale. As if learning about these issues on a macro level did not suffice - we were also able to interact with Professor Lynn Boyle's adopted Chinese daughter, Lily, who also came with us on the trip to understand on a deeper level, her heritage. Ultimately, our trip to Beijing inspired me to always have an international as well as domestic perspective of social work, that has helped better shape my understanding of what I would like to do in the future after graduating from Loyola.
Rachel Geller, MSW Student
The experience was inspirational and emotional, and was a strong reassurance for myself that I am in the right place in the Social Work field. My time in Beijing taught me a great deal about the culture and the child welfare policies within the United States as well as in China.
I feel so fortunate to have experienced this trip and look forward to learning more about child welfare and the Chinese culture, in conjunction with cultivating new found friendships made in both China and here at Loyola University. My 10 Days in Beijing.
Social Work Faculty Presented at 1st International Conference of LGBT Psychology and Related Fields in Lisbon, Portugal
Dr. Michael P. Dentato and Dr. Jeanne Sokolec, faculty members from the School of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago, presented a series of papers and workshops at the first international conference surrounding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues this June at Instituto Universitário de Lisboa in Lisbon, Portugal. Dr. Dentato and Dr. Sokolec presented in collaboration with local and international colleagues including Dr. Robert Cleve from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and Dr. Vera Paiva from University of Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Presentation topics included:
Sponsors of the conference were schools across the U.S. and abroad, including Columbia University, University of Michigan, Cornell University, University of London, Sapienza Università di Roma and University of Salamanca, Spain, among others. Members of the program committee included Dr. Vivienne Cass, Dr. Alex Carballo-Dieguez, Dr. Gary Harper, and Dr. Ritch Savin-Williams, among other noted international scholars in the field of LGBT issues.
For more information about the presentation topics or LGBTQ issues, please contact Dr. Dentato at email@example.com.
In the same weekend (on October 12 & 13, 2012), Dean Wheeler was recognized for his dedication to the Social Work profession and awarded for his commitment to AIDS/HIV research, prevention, and intervention.
Dean Wheeler's alma mater Pittsburgh University recognized several great alums from their School of Social Work. The Dean received his Ph.D. from PITT in 1992 and was honored to be recognized during their Homecoming weekend.
The Dean also does instrumental work with the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN). He and his fellow co-chairs, Drs. Beryl Koblin and Ken Mayer, along with the entire HPTN 061 study team, were selected to receive the Founders Award from Us Helping Us, People into Living, Inc.
Dr. Ken Mayer, Dr. Beryl Koblin, and Dean Wheeler