For graduates of the NYU Silver School of Social Work, there is no such thing as a “standard” path. While many alumni pursue careers providing direct clinical services in settings like schools, hospitals, and social service agencies, others leverage their versatile degree in a very different manner.
Because NYU Silver’s curriculum is grounded in the University’s rich liberal arts tradition, students complete 64 credits in liberal arts core courses in addition to 64 credits in their Social Work major. Therefore, Silver students are empowered to manage complexity and change, no matter what path they choose. Each student graduates with a deep foundation in the social work field enhanced by a broad perspective on human nature and society. Because of this, NYU Silver graduates often chart their own path.
Mentoring Those Who Mentor
During her senior-year field placement, Sarah Murslim (BS ’18, MSW ’19) discovered macro social work. As the field’s broader arm, it aims to develop overarching solutions to social problems at the community level and beyond.
“The NYU Silver Office of Global and Lifelong Learning (OGLL) was my field placement,” she says. OGLL is a center for continuing education. There, social workers and people in related fields grow and refine their knowledge and practice. They can learn the latest developments in clinical approaches to addiction, get a certificate in nonprofit executive leadership, and attend conferences and events on everything from re-imagining justice to supporting survivors of human trafficking. “Benjamin Sher—OGLLʼs director, my field supervisor, and my amazing mentor—taught me how to use my social work skills for program management and development in higher education.”
Today, Sarah applies her degree as a program coordinator in the education, faculty, and academic affairs office at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine. “Guiding departments in the launch and maintenance of mentoring programs is our goal. Specifically programs that support tenure-eligible and nontenure-eligible faculty,” she says. “Faculty Advance is one of our new programs. It’s designed to encourage professional development in science and medicine within an all-inclusive community of NYU Langone faculty.”
Challenging a Discriminatory Justice System
Like Sarah, Terrance Coffie (BS ’16, MSW’17) found that macro social work was a better fit for him than traditional clinical work. Terrance, who is a formerly incarcerated citizen, says, “My experiences at NYU empowered me to effect change. Not only as an inspiration for those with justice involvement that we are more than our worst mistakes but also as a challenger to discriminatory policies that perpetuate racial bias within our justice system and society as a whole.”
Citing numerous faculty and staff mentors he found during his time at NYU Silver, Terrance says, “The individuals who believed in me and supported me, to this day, impact my work as an advocate on behalf of those with justice involvement.” Today, Terrance is the founder and director of Educate Don’t Incarcerate. The organization drives criminal justice reform and improves access to higher education for formerly incarcerated persons through advocacy and mentorship. Terrance is also an adjunct professor at NYU and the host of It’s Coffie Time, a weekly podcast about justice reform.
Building an Organization to Meet Urgent Needs
During her first year at NYU Silver, Knock Knock, Give a Sock founder and CEO Adina Lichtman (BS ’16, MSW ’17) distrubted sandwiches to people experiencing homelessness near her dorm. While doing so, a man named Diego told her he really needed socks, not sandwiches. So Adina went back to her dorm room to find a pair. But she realized that “my ladies’ polka-dotted socks weren’t going to fit my new friend. So I knocked on doors across my floor and collected 50 pairs of socks that first day.” From there, Knock Knock, Give a Sock was born.
And with the support of her friends, family, and the NYU community, it grew throughout her time at Silver. In her final year, Adina used her field placement to help incubate the idea and grow the organization. Interning at the NYU Bronfman Center, Adina spent half her time helping Jewish students navigate life on campus and half her time working on Knock Knock, Give a Sock. “My social work adviser, Dr. Dina Rosenfeld, and the director of the center, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, really catered my internship to helping me and the organization,” Adina says. “They mentored me and talked me through my project. They helped me form the foundation of our work now.” Today, the organization distributes much-needed supplies and works with companies like JPMorgan and Salesforce to organize meals where corporate employees and people experiencing homelessness can eat together as neighbors and friends.
Thanks to Silver’s flexible curriculum, close-knit community, and strong tradition of mentorship, graduates find themselves well prepared to take their important social work skills and apply them to any number of fields. Because of this, NYU Silver alumni count lawyers, doctors, financial advisers, executives, entrepreneurs, and politicians among their ranks. One thing they all have in common? A passion for serving marginalized and vulnerable populations.