Celebrating Students & Alumni
Vernita Thompson, MSW, attended the University at Buffalo and was an NCWWI stipend recipient in 2019. Although faced with many obstacles, such as working, attending school, and completing her internship all during the Covid pandemic and racial injustices, she has successfully completed her graduate degree program and began her advancement into leadership. Her dedication to justice in child welfare and supporting families are well recognized and appreciated. Learn more about Vernita and her accomplishments!
Jane Yang graduated with her MSW degree in May 2021 from the University of Georgia. She has worked in the child welfare field for 18 years and is currently the Permanency Field Program Specialist for Region 5. She also supports child protection services. Although Jane was not initially interested in going back to school, she acknowledges that one of her proudest moments was being selected to be part of the first NCWWI stipend student cohort in Georgia. Learn more about Jane and her accomplishments!
When first entering the social work program at the University of North Dakota, Olivia Ben, had goals of becoming a therapist. Fortunately, she landed her second internship with Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation as a Foster Care Case Manager, which pulled her heart towards the child welfare field and working with Indigenous children and families. While completing her master’s degree Olivia was introduced to NCWWI and enrolled in their stipend program. Shortly thereafter Olivia graduated with her master’s in social work from UND in 2021. Olivia continued to work with MHA Nation, and after being there for only 10 months she was promoted from Case Manager to Family Preservation Supervisor. Learn more about Olivia and her accomplishments!
Alexandria Mills worked as a program assistant for the Department of Children and Family Services for five years before attaining her bachelor's degree in social work from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. After receiving her degree, Alexandria was promoted to the family service worker position. From there she grew into the team decision-maker facilitator role. One of her mottos that she lives by is "Passion is Free, Effort is Isolated". Learn more about Alexandria and her accomplishments!
Please, Welcome NCWWI's Tribal Student and Alumni Outreach Coordinator, Carissa O'Dell! Carissa, an MSW student at the University of Oklahoma, is completing her practicum with The Center for Tribal Social Work at OU Tulsa and will be graduating in May 2023. In addition to the work she's doing at the Center for Tribal Social Work, Carissa will be bringing her expertise to help with NCWWI student and alumni outreach initiatives. Learn more about Carissa and her accomplishments! Learn more about Carissa and her accomplishments!
Donjai Calhoun, a 2022 Georgia State University graduate, has worked in child welfare for seven and a half years. He started his career in early head start and worked there for 11 years before taking the opportunity to work for the Georgia Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS) in their After School Care Program. Donjai was quickly promoted to Early Childhood Services Director, and then again to the Wellbeing Services Program Director. He now oversees the Early Childhood Services Director, the Childcare Services Director, and the Georgia CREW Director as the Wellbeing Services Program Director. Although he considers himself an "introverted social worker," Donjai has shown tremendous resourcefulness, creativity, and drive, proving himself to be a transformational leader as he grew into each role. Learn more about Donjai and his accomplishments!
Students & Alumni Advisory Board Meeting Notes
S&A Learning Exchanges
In an effort to support and empower you as child welfare professionals and social work students, NCWWI has created a Current Issues Series Learning Exchange with special guests to share their expertise. We are hoping this series will bring awareness to various issues and empower you to create a difference for yourself as well as for your colleagues.
Addressing Moral Distress and Building Protective Factors and Resilience During Times of Systems Change