Widener University
Center for Social Work Education
Vol. I, Issue III
January 2012
Looking for Field Placement Supervisors
If you or someone you know has an MSW and would be interested in becoming a field placement supervisor for the Center's current BSW or MSW students, please contact Pat Fletcher, Director of Field Education at 
610-499-1133 or pafletcher@widener.edu. 
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Your donation of as little as $5 can make a big difference for the Center for Social Work Education.  Please consider helping to support the Center and its students by mailing a check to:
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Attn: Center for Social Work Education
One University Place
Chester, PA 19013

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Thank you for your support of Widener University's Center for Social Work Education. 


Practice Corner with Dr. Tom Young 


Tom Young

I did not hear from anyone about the piece I wrote for the previous Newsletter ("Know Thyself-Catching Up with Interpersonal Neurobiology"). This Newsletter's piece is about the Power of Your Personal Narrative. One of my clients is teaching me about how difficult it is to revise one's personal narrative. I'll talk about that in a bit--but if you have some suggestions about how to do that based on your own personal or professional experience, and wish to share, please send me an email at: tmyoung@widener.edu. Thanks.


The Power of Your Personal Narrative


Santo (a fictitious name) is a 46 year old man who was born in Italy but immigrated to the United States in his early 20s. His story is that his mother died when he was 5. His father went "off the rails" in his grief and became an abusive alcoholic, frequently telling Santo that he was a worthless piece of shit. The fact that Santo was overweight, did poorly in school, and had no success dating girls during his adolescence seemed to consolidate his view of himself, his personal narrative, as a "fat failure."


After arriving in the United States, Santo worked for a food and beverage distribution company for a few years, dated, and then married an attractive woman who worked as an administrative assistant. Together, they purchased a home and have raised two children who are doing well. During that time, Santo decided to start his own business which has been quite successful, even through the recent economic recession.


Despite his success, Santo still believes he is a "fat failure" and periodically goes on expensive eating, drinking and spending binges that he believes are his attempt to "cover up" how he really feels about himself. When I referred to his view of himself as "his narrative," he responded quickly, "It's not just a story; it's a core belief!"


In the following session, I called his attention to how quickly and forcefully he had responded. He acknowledged that he could not "let his story go" since it was about who he is, his identity. I said that I understood that but that it did not seem right to me that it should continue to have such control over him now.


Returning to its origins, following his mother's death, I asked him if he had any memories of how his mother viewed him before she became ill and died. He replied quickly again. "I have wonderful, warm, vivid memories of my Mother being kind and nice to me." This led me to comment that it still did not seem right to me that the personal narrative he had developed between the ages of 5 and 20 should continue to dominate his thinking now, especially given how successful he has been since arriving in the U.S.. His response was, "We'll have to work on that."


Cozolino (2010: 26) maintains that every successful therapeutic intervention includes some revision of the client's personal narrative. My questions for you are: How would you go about engaging Santo in a process of both honoring and revising his personal narrative? Have you done something similar with yourself?


I look forward to hearing from you.




Cozolino, L. (2010). The neuroscience of psychotherapy: Healing the social brain. New York: W.W. Norton.

New Student Organization: LGBT Grad Style
lgbtCome out, come out wherever you are to the LGBT Grad Style club to meet wonderful like-minded people in safe and accepting spaces.  Members will participate in on-campus events, social gatherings, and community outreach programs.  Meetings will be held once a month at the Widener University Interfaith Center at 1700 Walnut Street.  Please join if you are interested in fabulous experiences, frivolity, and friendships!  If you would like to be included in their circle of letters and allies, email Tiffini Lanza at tlanza@mail.widener.edu. 
Meet BSW Student: Emily Fleming

 Emily Fleming

Major(s): Social Work/Psychology double major



I am a full time commuter student who has just started my senior year.  I am the only person in my graduating class who will be completing the Social Work & Psychology Dual Degree. This has been an incredible experience for me. I am currently the BSW intern at Chester Community Charter School, which is leading me to learn how to do the job I want to obtain after I complete school! I am awaiting responses from applications for graduate schools in pursuit of my Masters in Social Work on the Advanced Standing Track. 


Do you belong to any national professional organizations?

I am the president of Widener's chapter of Pi Gamma Mu International Social Science Honor Society, a member of Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology, a member of Phi Sigma Pi co-ed Honor Fraternity, and a member of the BSW club.


Why did you choose the BSW Program at Widener University?

I originally started with psychology alone, but after taking one social work class at Widener I knew I had found where I was meant to be.  Ever since I was young I have wanted to make a difference in others' lives and help them find ways to do it on their own, which is exactly what the social work program will help me to do.


Where do you work/what do you do when you are not being a student?

I am the BSW intern at Chester Community Charter School. I love to do volunteer work, bake, and spend time with my family and friends.


What made you decide to pursue a BSW?

Social work is a multidimensional field that allows you to help create change in so many different areas of an individual's life. You can focus on individuals and their families, or make a change in your community or government. There are so many options.


What have you enjoyed most about being a BSW student at Widener University?

I feel that the BSW program at Widener University is a close family. We all truly care for each other and want the best for each other. The faculty is extremely helpful in assisting us pursue our careers, and the members of the program are comfortable and truly learn from one another.


Do you have any specific research interests?

Children in schools, children & teen crisis, and the effect of the family environment on a child's academic success.


What has been your favorite experience in your program so far?

The BSW program makes sure we get field experience so we are quite knowledgeable once we graduate. I cannot say the same for many other programs I have researched.


What advice would you give to future Widener students?

Be open to exploring your options. Your opinions and aspirations may change, but as long as you have a goal you are quite capable of doing whatever it is you feel you are meant to do!


Why should other BSW students choose to study at Widener University?

The BSW program at Widener is close, just like a family. This bond with your classmates and professors leads you to build strong connections that will enable you to truly become a great social worker.

Phi Alpha Honors Society Update
Beginning in January, Phi Alpha will be working with Dr. John Poulin and Dr. Linda Houser to help organize and host author Jill Jones as she visits Widener University.  Jones coauthored Casino Women: Courage in Unexpected Places and is visiting Widener, among other local universities, to talk about her experiences when writing the book and the power, privilege, and discrimination felt by women working in America's casinos.  Phi Alpha will also be continuing its work with the Chester County Upland School District to collect school supply donations in the CSWE office.  Please contact President Steph Willets (smwillets@mail.widener.edu) for more information.
NABSW Update

The National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) was created in the 1960's during the Civil Rights Movement by a group of Black Social Workers who formed one of the strongest advocacy groups established to address social issues and concerns of the Black community. The NABSW continues to promote social welfare and social justice of the Black community by advocating for the inclusion of people from African ancestry in policy-making and other important social issues. The Widener University Chapter continues to follow the mission of the NABSW in order to promote positive change in our society as a whole. NABSW members are actively involved in community service events, such as the upcoming ones listed below. If you are interested in student membership the cost is only $25 annually. Contact President Talisha Lee for more information at tclee@mail.widener.edu.


The NABSW has many plans for this semester.  In January, two members attended the NABSW Steering Committee in California.  In March, the NABSW will be holding a fundraiser selling NABSW t-shirts to benefit their organization.  Members will also be invited to attend the National NABSW Conference in Atlanta, Georgia from April 3-6, so please contact Talisha Lee if you are interested in participating.  Finally, they will be holding their annual Rites of Passage ceremony on Friday, May 11th.  Look for more information to emerge about these upcoming events as the semester continues.

Meet MSW Student: Ana del Puerto

 Ana del Puerto

Degrees: B.A. in Sociology and Telecommunications, M.Ed. Student Personnel and Counseling in Higher Education



Raised in Downingtown, PA, I was very active in music and thought I wanted to be a radio personality! Soon after enrolling in the Telecommunications program at Penn State, I realized my true passion lies in working with people. I added a Sociology major to my degree and was fortunate to be hired as an Admissions Counselor at Widener Law soon after graduating. For further professional development, I completed the M.Ed. program in Student Personnel and Counseling with the School of Education. Now I am pursuing an MSW at Widener with the goal of receiving a license in clinical social work. I hope to use my education to help others achieve their own goals!


Why did you choose the Graduate Programs at Widener University?

After receiving my first Masters from Widener, I knew the atmosphere and class sizes were perfect for my needs. The programs at Widener are very flexible and professors are willing to work with students but also expect quality work. I heard great things about the MSW program and am very excited to see what is in store this year!


Where do you work/what do you do when you are not being a student?

I am currently the Assistant Director of Admissions at Widener Law. I live in Philly and when I'm not in class, reading, or working I try to spend time with friends and family. I also regularly exercise, love yoga, and try to travel as often as possible!


What made you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I have a talent and passion for counseling. I always thought, what would I do if I didn't need the money? And in the end, I find that helping people is all that matters. I love interacting with people and listening to their stories. There is nothing more fulfilling than helping someone achieve their dreams and aspirations, so I'm pursuing an MSW to build the skills and qualifications necessary to do just that!


What have you enjoyed most about being a graduate student at Widener University?

I really value the professors and flexibility of the program. I've built great connections at Widener because faculty and staff really do want to see students succeed. They work night and day to make sure the graduate programs are as strong as possible.


Do you have any specific research interests?

Right now, I'm interested in working with the college student population which often involves issues surrounding substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, isolation, anxiety, career counseling, and just adapting to adulthood - among many others. Other interests include immigrant experiences, trauma, and international human trade victims.


What has been your favorite experience in your graduate program so far?

Since I just started, I have a lot to experience still! But I really enjoy my professors. I'm looking forward to getting to know them better.


What advice would you give to future Widener graduate students?

If you have a passion, follow it. No matter how difficult, tedious, or time consuming it may seem - a graduate degree will get you where you want to go. And network! Get to know your professors and colleagues. These connections become more important than you may realize.


Why should other adult learners choose to study at Widener University?

Widener is an adult learning institution. It is developed so adult students can live their lives while studying - that's not to say it's easy! But professors understand the realities of adult learners and cater to our needs. Most programs are offered part-time. And you will find many fellow non-traditional students in class too!

Meet Our New Assistant to the Director: Mary Ellen Ferkler

During the first week of December 2011, the Center for Social Work Education welcomed Mary Ellen Ferkler as the new Coordinating Secretary.  She has taken over the position long held by Loretta Glavin as the key person for faculty and students alike regarding grades, course schedules, student information, and other essential departmental functions.  Mary Ellen first joined Widener University in 2008 as an Enrollment Services Representative for the Front Line in Lipka Hall aiding students and their parents with the different services handled by the office.  She became the person in charge of processing the student worker contracts and maintaining work records. 


When a higher level job opened up in the Center, Mary Ellen was eager to apply in order to move up in the university and continue to be part of Widener's family-like environment.  Helping to encourage her to accept the position was how she was made to feel so much at home during the interview process.  Mary Ellen was initially inspired to work in higher education for two important reasons: the tuition remission offered for employees' children interested her as it would benefit her youngest son, and she hoped for a nice change in atmosphere after working for a corporation for 30 years.  It seems she has found just that as she admits how comfortable the people make her feel at Widener.


In her new role, Mary Ellen hopes to employ some of her research, analysis, and reporting skills as she has always enjoyed these functions.  She aspires to quickly learn the necessary elements to make a smooth transition and be an asset to the department.  When asked about a fun fact that no one knows about her, Mary Ellen admits she once played in an All Star basketball game at the Spectrum before a Sixers game.  We would like to welcome Mary Ellen to the department and look forward to utilizing her skills and knowledge and getting to know more about her! 

MSW Student Organization Update 

Toy Drive 

The Masters of Social Work Student Organization (MSWSO) accomplished two items during the Fall 2011 semester. The biggest success was the Toys for Tots drive. Many people contributed to the cause, providing numerous gifts for children. Another hit was their social gathering to celebrate the end of the semester. Attendees enjoyed karaoke, good food, and engaging conversation with their peers.


In the upcoming semester the MSWSO will be doing much more. Community service is an important part of the MSWSO and they would like to focus more on that this spring. Two potential events for community service are volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and hosting a neighborhood clean-up day. Fundraising will also be a priority, starting with homemade chili and hot drinks for purchase in Bruce Hall on January 25th and 26th. All proceeds will benefit the MSWSO in putting on future events for students. Other merchandise will be on sale throughout the semester to help with fundraising, so keep an eye out for the MSWSO's upcoming events!
Casino Women: Courage in Unexpected Places  
Casino Women Book CoverThe Center for Social Work Education and Phi Alpha Honors Society will be hosting two events in February featuring acclaimed author Jill B. Jones.  Dr. Jones is co-author of the book Casino Women: Courage in Unexpected Places, a pioneering look at female casino workers' transformation and their success in creating a union able to face off against global gaming giants.  
The first event, held on Tuesday, Feb. 28th from 7-9pm, will be open to current students, alumni, professionals, and community members.  The first hour will feature a presentation by Dr. Jones and the second hour will be more intensive and interactive for those participants wishing to receive two CEUs for their participation, and for any person interested in learning more.
The second event will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 29th from 6-7pm for current Widener social work students.  This event will be smaller and less formal to allow for more discussion with Dr. Jones.  Both events are free, except for the $25 charge for anyone interested in CEUs. Please join us for one or both evenings for a unique learning opportunity and great discussion!
To register for the Feb. 28th event, click here.
Grief, Loss, and Transformation Alumni Event 
Lenore Khan TimelineGrief Event

On Thursday, January 19, 2012, approximately 50 Widener University and Smith College alumni, field supervisors, professionals, and current MSW students gathered for Grief, Loss, and Transformation, an interactive workshop presented by Dr. Carolyn Walter and Lenore Khan, LSW and sponsored by the Widener University and Smith College Alumni Associations. The event focused on how loss and grief can lead to growth and transformation by tracing the evolution of grief theory from Freud, via Kubler-Ross and Bowlby, to the post modern theorists who emphasize the importance of continuing bonds and meaning making.  Participants learned how to apply various theories of grief to their use of a personal loss timeline in clinical practice. Each attendee also created his/her own loss timeline and shared personal revelations with the group. We want to extend a warm thank you to Dr. Walter and Ms. Khan for sharing their extensive knowledge with the participants and putting on a rewarding event.
BSW Club Update 
This semester, the BSW Club has many plans in the works.  They will be traveling to Love Park in Philadelphia one Saturday or Sunday afternoon to give homemade sandwiches to the homeless.  They are also hoping to work with the MSWSO on Take Back the Night this spring, an annual event held on college campuses nationwide to raise awareness about sexual assault.  President Liz Braccia is also hoping to get the BSW Club involved with the American Cancer Society's program Road to Recovery. Volunteers with this program provide a unique and much-needed service driving patients to their chemotherapy treatments at local hospitals. If you would like to help bring these events to fruition, join the BSW Club at their bi-weekly meetings on Fridays at 12pm in the Social Work conference room.  The next meeting will be held Friday, February 3rd.
Using the True Flava of Kijana: Social Work Practice with Urban Oriented Youth Workshop 


Richard CooperThis workshop, presented by Dr. Richard Cooper, featured a discussion regarding the need for social work practitioners to explore and become informed about the complexities of Hip Hop cultural music when working with urban oriented youth. Urban oriented youth have worldviews that are often influenced by various aspects of popular and hybridized Hip Hop Cultures. Because cultural competency is a goal in all aspects of social work practice, social workers must become more knowledgeable about Hip Hop culture and rap music in particular, if they desire positive outcomes when working with this population. This workshop gave an overview of the Hip Hop culture including the origins of Hip Hop and offered suggestions on how to effectively engage with urban oriented youth.  Thank you to Dr. Cooper for putting together a unique, informative event and to all those who attended.