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Commitment and Compassion: MSW Professor Shares Her Award with Students

When WCU graduate social work professor Nadine Bean was honored with a Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award in 2015, she promptly gave part of the stipend it came with to four MSW students in the form of $500 scholarships. She is the first Lindback recipient known to have done so.

The Lindback awards enable faculty to reward colleagues at their institutions for excellence in teaching. At West Chester, the Lindback also honors those who truly inspire students. Tiffany Samuels-Lewis, MSW class of '17 and one of the scholarship recipients, attests to the inspiration Bean gives her: "Hopefully in my career I can touch someone like Dr. Bean has." Samuels-Lewis has an MBA in health administration from Eastern University and is completing her MSW at WCU's Philadelphia campus while working for the city’s Department of Human Services. She is a liaison between the department and the schools that the children in DHS care attend.

Bean selected Samuels-Lewis and three other MSW students who were working with individuals and families "really struggling with access to care. All of these field placements are integrating primary care with behavioral health care." And that integration is the future of the health and behavioral health fields.

The other three students Bean selected are on schedule to earn their MSW degrees this year. John Grove is enrolled at WCU’s main campus and completing a field placement at Project H.O.P.E., which serves the homeless in Camden County, N.J. Stephanie Owens (Philadelphia campus) provides psychotherapy, co-facilitates groups, and teaches life skills at her field placement at the Hall-Mercer Community Behavioral Health Center in Center City. Owens has worked with children and youth throughout her career and plans to be a therapist for them and for young adults. Asha Sahijwani (WCU main campus) works with children in foster care as part of her field placement at the TLC Clinic at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Sahijwani says her family has nurtured a "spirit of service and giving … for generations." She hopes to integrate the yoga she teaches into her practice.

Bean has since dedicated the remaining award dollars toward $200 scholarships to the first 12 students enrolled in the new interprofessional elective "Advanced Clinical Practice in Integrated Health: Behavior, Nutrition, Health and Recovery," which she will team-teach this summer with colleagues from the College of Health Sciences (in the departments of nutrition, nursing, and public health). The goal is to offer several courses in interprofessional practice and integrated health (in practice and policy) and establish a WCU Center for Integrated Health, Resilience and Recovery. The name reflects the future of health and social work education and practice, as well as Bean's expertise and professional passion, which led her to organize and host a 2014 symposium on "Crossing the Boundaries of Health Disciplines: Promoting Recovery and Resiliency."

Bean was also recognized in 2012 with a SAGE/CSWE Award for Innovative Teaching in Social Work Education, in part for the development of the course “Social Work with Veterans and Military Families: A Resilience and Trauma-informed Approach." She is a national board member and volunteer clinician for The Soldiers Project, a trainer for the Red Cross’ Coping with Deployments and Reconnections programs, and has served as a Disaster Mental Health Services volunteer with the American Red Cross in the aftermath of disasters including in New York City after 9/11. Her commitment to underserved populations is best exemplified by her work in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, where she was a founding board member of lowernine.org, an organization dedicated to rebuilding the devastated Lower Ninth Ward. She is a past president of the NASW-Pennsylvania Chapter (2005 – 2007), which honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.