Class of 2024 MSW Grads Honored for Achievements in Academics, Community Service and Leadership in Celebratory Ceremony

Touro University Graduate School of Social Work Hosts Annual Recognition Program at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y Highlights Graduates' Success

June 18, 2024
Social work students from Class of 2024 seated in audience watching awards program on stage.
Members of Touro University's Graduate School of Social Work's class of 2024 during the Academic Recognition Program held at the 92nd Street Y.

The graduating class of Touro University’s Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) was honored recently at the school’s annual Academic Recognition Program, held at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan.

The 160 members of the Class of 2024 packed the auditorium and cheered one another on as they approached the stage – some students multiple times – to be recognized for academic achievements, community service, and leadership, among other accomplishments.

Director of Program Operations Elhanan Marvit opened the program, followed by congratulatory remarks from the dean, Dr. Nancy Gallina, who applauded the class for navigating the challenges of the past year with “empowerment, strength, support and empathy.”

“You Will Bring Light”

“There were many difficult conversations we had in our classrooms. And every time you proved to be social workers already - by adhering to civil discourse, giving yourself an opportunity to hear a different point of view, and accepting the challenge of learning how others experience the world,” the Dean said in her remarks. “This is no small feat. It takes a true professional to put aside their own internal suffering and open up with empathic curiosity to explore what the world is like for others.”

She continued, “There is much angst, suffering and darkness in our world and you graduates will bring light. Work with your clients to find the resources and empowerment needed to make the change they seek today. It is my belief social workers are not made; they are born. Listen to that calling and be the beacon of hope so many people are searching for.”

Touro University senior vice president and provost, Dr. Patricia Salkin, also congratulated and thanked the class for their hard work, determination, and passion.

“Society needs social workers today more than ever before,” said Dr. Salkin. “We live in a world that has become more tumultuous… It seems as though we have lost a sense of civility and humanity right in our own backyard. You are the ones who must now go out into this world and help people live better lives. You must lead by example and ensure that every human being is treated with dignity and respect. This is just the beginning for each one of you and the future of our communities is brighter because of what each one of you is now prepared to do.”

Numerous Recognition Awards

Over 15 award categories recognized dozens of attendees for service to the school and to the community; leadership and management; fieldwork; research; academic accomplishment; and alumni service.

Frederick Marte received awards in four categories, one of which recognized his enthusiastic participation in school efforts to advocate for social policy legislation in Albany. Dominican-born and raised in Passaic, N.J., Marte ran workshops for parents to reduce stigma surrounding mental health and led a Latino men’s group that uses the arts to engage teens.

Brooklyn native Quanisha Nelson won a Management and Leadership award for her work supervising a mental health homeless shelter on Randall’s Island that houses 224 men – many of whom are suffering from substance use disorders. A 2015 graduate of Touro’s New York School of Career and Applied Studies, at the GSSW she learned how to write a grant proposal and decided to pursue a leadership position in social work.

A “Special Recognition Research Award” went to Briana Dominguez for presentations she made at the New York Academy of Medicine and Touro University Research Day on the effectiveness of TFCBT – trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy with undocumented children.

Sarah Orgel received the Dr. Bernard and Sarah Lander Distinguished Social Work Tikkun Olam Award, which memorializes the legacies of Touro College’s founder and his wife while paying tribute to students who enhance the quality of life in the Jewish and larger community.

Orgel operates a small daycare in her community for Orthodox families in need, works as a certified life coach, and volunteers as a facilitator for free support programs offered by Family Connections, an organization established by the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEABP). The support groups are for family members with loved ones who suffer from emotional dysregulation and BPD.

Other awards went to outstanding students in practicum education; the federally-funded Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program; and fellowship recipients in Aging Education, Evidence-Based Practice in Mental Health, and School Social Work.

Twenty-three graduates finished with “Highest Academic Honors” awards, having achieved GPAs of 3.9 and above.