March 04, 2008

School of Social Work presents annual awards

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The School of Social Work at Southern Illinois University Carbondale honored five students as well as a graduate of the program during its annual awards ceremony, held this year on Monday, March 3.

Tammy L. Austin, a senior from Peoria, Emily G. Corley, a master's student from Carbondale, Katie A. Lenza, a senior from Evergreen Park, Marguerita A. Pearce, a senior from Eldorado, and Bridget E. Sosnowski, a senior from Aurora, each received $100 and a certificate.

Alumna of the Year Shari A. Selander, who earned her master's from the school in 1995 and now heads its child welfare programs, delivered the keynote speech.

Austin, a single mother and president of the campus chapter of Minority Students in Social Work, won the Auerbach Recognition Award, which commemorates Jimmy and Augusta Auerbach. Austin, who has three sons and cares for a niece, also volunteers at the Bethel AME Church food kitchen in addition to attending classes and earning a 3.4 grade-point average.

Corley, who has a 4.0 GPA, is the school's graduate student of the year. She served a summer internship at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, working with patients suffering from traumatic brain injuries. She has also worked with homeless people while employed by Good Samaritan Ministries.

Lenza, one of two undergraduate students of the year, will graduate with a 3.8 GPA. Currently on an internship with Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, she also serves as president of the American Sign Language Club, a scheduling officer and organizer of Students for Peace and Democracy, a student life adviser and a researcher for the Tele-Help Line for Caregivers. She is the daughter of Evergreen Park residents James R. and Kathleen C. Lenza.

Pearce, winner of the non-traditional student of the year award, will graduate in May with a 3.6 GPA and will enroll in the school's master's program in the summer after completing her field practicum in Harrisburg's Mulberry Center. She belongs to the Social Work Student Alliance, the National Association of Social Workers and has served as a volunteer at the Golden Circle Senior Citizens Daycare Center in Eldorado. Pearce is married to Eldorado resident Thomas Pierce and is the mother of Ryan D. Spivey and U.S. Army Private Erin A. Cox, currently stationed in Missouri. Her parents, Robert L. and Marita L. McSparin, live in Eldorado.

Sosnowski, also named an undergraduate student of the year, has an internship in alternative education at John A. Logan College and will graduate in May with a 3.5 GPA. She has served as a volunteer with Southern Illinois Regional Social Services, Carbondale Middle School, the Adolescent Health Center and the 2007 Heart Walk.

Selander has served as her alma mater's director of child welfare programs since 2004. Her key accomplishment on the job to date has involved setting up and managing an integrated assessment program that involves 84 southern and central Illinois counties, employs more than 50 people and has a budget of nearly $5 million. Previously, she served seven years as the school's director of educational partnership, overseeing a training project funded by the state Department of Children and Family Services. Selander eearned her bachelor's degree in 1988 from Utah State University.