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2019-2020 Margo Award Winners

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2019-2020 Margo Awards!  The Margo Awards are named for Margaret Schutz Gordon, Professor Emeritus who served with distinction as Professor and Director of Field Education at KU SSW from 1970 to 1983. Thank you sincerely to all of you who took the time to nominate your student, field instructor, or preceptor.  You all have done some amazing work in practicum this year!


Melinda Reyes receives Margo Award for Outstanding Preceptor

Melinda Reyes- VNA Lawrence

The field instruction provided by my preceptor, Melinda Reyes, is a combination of hands-on and teaching by observation type, which is how I learn best. In the previous semester(Fall), we specialized in hospice care that mainly concerns providing comfort care (not treatment) and psycho-social support to patients at the end of life, not forgetting to offer psycho-social care to patients' caregivers and families. This semester(Spring), we are still doing hospice in addition to home health care which is an exciting experience altogether. Home health deals with helping patients regain their ability to continue living life to their fullest and so patients may be offered different therapies and treatments as long as they can tolerate it. Home health is about identifying the resources each patient needs and making them available. Some times patients transition to hospice from here. We do home and facility visits and this is how we connect directly with our patients. Towards the middle of last semester, I started doing visits on my own and then got supervision from my preceptor and my offsite supervisor and I feel comfortable doing that at this point. I am doing more of those this semester including practice on admissions which is going well.

Overall, my preceptor is very professional and has a very good ability to keep her boundaries and also respects others'. Her organization and responsibility are areas that have really impressed and motivated me. She is very respectful to and patient with all staff, patients and their families and understands her role really well and does what she is supposed to do. She applies her social work skills, theories and practice skills extremely well. My preceptor's mastery and appropriate application of the National Social Workers Association Code of Ethics is an amazing aspect to take with me as a social worker. She is always culturally confidence and sensitive, a very social work aspect. Her positivity towards her role is indeed contagious and cannot go unnoticed. Her knowledge and awareness of the resources in the community and helping patients access them is a motivating factor for me. Her nonjudgemental attitude and her wisdom in handling issues are admirable. I can write a whole book about this but I hope this creates a clear picture of who she is. I would say she is one of my best role models and mentors I have had in my practicum. I really appreciate her and highly recommend her as a future supervisor or preceptor.


Jasmine Turner receives Margo Award for Outstanding Field Instructor

Jasmine Turner- DCF Child and Family Protective Services

Jasmine has made working at DCF, an incredibly hard practicum, enjoyable. Going into practicum, I was incredibly anxious about working in such a hard agency that deals with horrible things every day. Jasmine has always prioritized self-care and checks in on me constantly to ensure that I am learning the most possible in my short time at DCF.

Learning about institutionalized oppression and poverty in an educational setting versus seeing how it impacts clients directly are two very different things. I was worried that my coworkers at DCF would be almost hardened, or blind to the institutional factors at play that affects our clients. However, it is quite the opposite. Everyone has nothing but great things to say about Jasmine at DCF, and she cares deeply about her coworkers. Her door is always open when people are having a hard day, which people frequently utilize. I hope that I am half the social worker Jasmine is, and that I can take many of the things she has taught me with me in the future when I have clients of my own.


Diane Bigler receives Margo Award for Outstanding Offsite Field Instruction

Diane Bigler - KU

As a first-year MSW student, I have had no previous practicum experience or experience with a field instructor. Diane Bigler was an offsite field instructor as we had no one at the MSW level at our agency. From the beginning, Diane took guided me through well structured yet open conversation that allowed me to both process events in practicum and apply them in a broader context while not dwelling on them longer than necessary. Diane would come to supervision each week with extracurricular material that would get us thinking about various topics such as self-care/avoiding burnout, filling in gaps in advocacy, and the like. Furthermore, Diane identified pertinent areas of struggle and framed these difficult areas in a manageable way. With Diane's field instruction I felt more confident and cared for as a student and practitioner.

In a word, Diane's mindfulness. Her ability to assess a situation at the moment and act with thought has stood out to me. She has demonstrated her wealth of knowledge and experience in conjunction with her knowing the right time to employ them. Through Diane's example, I've learned to allow my experiences through practicum, and later on in practice, to fully cultivate into tools I use in practice and in interacting with other professionals for the best care of our clients. When Diane interacted with us practicum students, she identified where each of us was at in our learning process and met us there while still encouraging us to push our boundaries in a healthy and productive way. Diane showed me and was evidence of the fact, that I can achieve my goals in this field and that nothing is beyond me as a practitioner.


Jennifer Dawdy receives Margo Award for Oustanding Field Liaison

Jennifer Dawdy - KU

Jennifer is instrumental in assisting Jennie Marsh and Field Education staff in developing the BSW seminar. She and Jennie piloted seminar this year and due to their hard work, we will fully implement the BSW and MSW foundation seminar in 2021-22. Additionally, as she did in 2015, Jennifer once again stepped up to assist the Field Office during a staffing and leadership transition. This year, Jennifer's field education roles have included: liaison, instructor, and practicum coordinator. Laurie and I are particularly grateful for her assistance in managing practicum disruptions and planning during COVID19. This has been a crazy year in field and Jennifer did not shy away from the challenges. Thank you, Jennifer; you're a fine social worker, student advocate, and coworker.


Nathan Eikmeier receives Margo Award for Oustanding BSW Student

Nathan Eikmeier - St. Michael’s Veteran Center

Nate's field placement was at St. Michael's Veterans Center - a permanent supportive housing program for formerly homeless and/or disabled veterans. Nate was drawn to this placement b/c he too is a Veteran. Nate's responsibilities were many and despite his hefty list of tasks, he was constantly saying, "Hold on, don't do that - let me go do that." To say I appreciated his help is an understatement. St. Michael's has 125 residents and I am the only social worker. We administer weekly programs and in addition to that, I do individual casework. Nate took the responsibility of the food pantry off of me. Additionally, he quickly learned mainstream benefits and assisted residents in making applications for Veteran Pension and Compensation benefits, as well as, file Medicaid, food stamps and QMB applications. He was committed to his efforts to assist several "untidy" residents to keep their apartments organized in order to prevent additional lease violations and possible eviction. Several of these apartments were downright unsanitary and he found a way to be respectful, kind and effective in his goal. Additionally, concerned about many of our residents who are overweight with co-occurring health conditions, Nate and his fellow KU intern, Lauren, started an age and ability appropriate exercise class. They were faithful to it, even when no resident attended. Over time, through their patience, perseverance and continual personal invitations, they developed a core group of resident participants. Nate was constantly busy attending to tasks and even when he completed them all, instead of sitting and resting at his desk for a moment - he would jump up and say, "I am going to walk around and check on people." Nate never tired of interacting with our residents, and despite the many tasks that do need to be completed, the most significant social problem we experience here at St. Michael's is self-isolating, loss of purpose and depression. Nate knew that a friendly smile and interested ear were of greatest benefit to our residents and was consistently generous is offering his.

Nate has been the consummate student to supervise in field. He is consistently professional in the way he presents himself and the way he represents our profession. He is the tireless caseworker that never lost track of any task assigned (or suggested) and followed through meticulously until every task was completed. He sought out consultation at every opportunity, whether it was to improve his skills in order to elicit motivation in an otherwise ambivalent resident vis-à-vis impending eviction or when he was dissecting his own values and beliefs to ensure they were not influencing his interactions with a client. Nate’s focused attention on research, theory and best practices, combined with his genuine desire to be of assistance ensured that his interactions were professionally rooted and skillfully delivered. Many social workers genuinely want to help people and this is true for Nate too. However, what distinguishers Nate is his fine-tuned understanding that the profession of social work transcends being of assistance to others. He understands that the profession of social work is to critically analyze systems to address injustice, to be of assistance in a clinically effective, efficient and fiscally responsible manner and to respect all individuals in the process. His enthusiasm for his profession and his drive for excellence has been energizing to me over these past 2 semesters. I am sad that our semester was cut short. I have missed his presence in the office. Before I conclude, I want to acknowledge a special appreciation for the person Nate is. Late in the day, one Friday afternoon, Nate and I had the distressing experience of finding a resident deceased in his apartment. Despite having a scheduled personal appointment after his workday, Nate remained at practicum until 9 p.m. that evening when the police, medical examiner and relatives of the deceased finally left. While it is true there were tasks to attend to in the aftermath of the death and Nate did assist me with these, I know that is not the reason he stayed. I know Nate did not want to leave me alone in all of that. I was and am grateful he accompanied me in that experience. Nate is exceptional. I look forward to seeing his career develop.


Rayna Marshall receives Margo Award for Oustanding MSW Foundation Student.

Rayna Marshall - Wyandotte County Courthouse Protective Order Office

The mission of the Victims Services Unit is to empower crime victims by providing them the tools they need to overcome the trauma of victimization. We inform victims of their rights and advocate for their rights to be upheld. We respect and encourage each person's rights to make their own informed decisions as they navigate the criminal justice system. The Victims Services Unit is proactive in reaching out to victims in the community through education and awareness activities. We provide support to the emergency first responders of Wyandotte County to enhance services to victims. This placement is in the Kansas City Kansas Police Departments Victim Services Unit. Specifically, students in this practicum experience work in the Wyandotte County Order of Protection Office. The student has extensive direct contact with clients seeking protection orders and has the ability to safety plan, conduct lethality assessments, and connect survivors with services. There are ex parte dockets every day of the week and one docket on Wednesday afternoons for hearing the Temporary Orders. The students attend these court hearings, notifies survivors of the hearing, informs survivors about the court process, and is present in the hearings to help navigate and support survivors at court. This student works to bridge the fields of survivor advocacy, law enforcement and/or civil/criminal court systems.

Rayna is always the first to jump in to meet the needs of the office and the survivors we work with. She is self-motivated, creative, and resourceful. She learned our process quick and began juggling multiple clients and has been a consistent advocate to everyone she works with. Throughout my time working with Rayna, she has shown a great interest in supporting survivors, creating a space for survivors to be educated on how to represent themselves. There is often no perfect solution for survivors navigating the justice system. The process is slow and confusing. Rayna will put in the work, do the research, and communicate each option clearly and empathetically. Rayna is organized. If Rayna is working with a family, she will follow through on each step, she never misses an email, and when she says she will find an answer she does. Being skilled and modeling social work values are detrimental to this field. Additionally, Rayna is a pleasure to work with and learn from. Rayna enjoys having difficult conversations about the real systematic barriers our clients face. She has a passion to learn and be a life-long learner. Rayna has a contagious positive energy and is an excellent team member. She uses all her prior knowledge and expertise to guide her practice. Each day Rayna was in the office, her presence was known and will be treasured as she continues on in her profession.


Kelsey Rose receives Margo Award for Outstanding MSW Macro Student

Kelsey Rose- Office of Victim Services

In her macro placement, Kelsey has engaged in a variety of activities to support the KDOC Office of Victim Services. She has written and managed our Violence Against Women Act grant, which was fully funded! She also has been tracking legislative activities, including the activities of the Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission and has participated actively in the Kansas Organization for Victim Assistance (KOVA) legislative subcommittee efforts. Kelsey has worked with our restorative justice program to review and update existing policies. She has participated in several activities related to the Prison Rape Elimination Act Multidisciplinary Team (PREA MDT), a statewide group working to improve response to incarcerated survivors. Kelsey has worked with our batterer intervention program (BIP) team to create a BIP evaluation for participants who have completed our program.

Kelsey works closely with our batterer intervention program (BIP) team and this statement from the BIP Coordinator is a clear testament to Kelsey's impact on our team: "Kelsey has been such a pleasure to have on our team. She is very willing to jump in headfirst and learn about this incredibly difficult work. She is open to feedback, provides an excellent contribution to case staffing meetings and is an amazing team player. She has been more than willing to help when needed. She is such a quick learner and has provided tangible tools that we can use in the future. Her work in establishing a client evaluation of the Batterer Intervention Program (BIP) is instrumental for BIP staff to gather much-needed feedback from clients in order to improve the services provided and for clients to offer their thoughts and opinions on the program they invested much time and energy into. This evaluation tool will be something that is used often in the future." Kelsey has a unique balance of head and heart skills that creates a powerful force for macro work. She understands the complicated dynamics of our work and masterfully distills nebulous programming into concrete policies, evaluations, grants, etc. She has been a joy to work with and has balanced many unique issues throughout her practicum with enviable grace. Kelsey's response to the impact of COVID-19 has been most impressive. When the notice came out that practicum would end at 550 hours, Kelsey was at 560. In meeting with Kelsey to wrap up, she stated that she intends to complete the projects she had started, working in volunteer status, so she doesn't leave open loops. She is aware of the impact that her abrupt departure would have on staff and has worked with program staff to prioritize what projects can be left as is and what would be helpful to have her work to complete before officially leaving. We are working with our Human Resources team in this unprecedented time to find Kelsey a part-time position with our office, if she is interested in such. We know her skills and perspective will set her up for a bright future and we are grateful to be a stop along her path. The KDOC Office of Vitim Services enthusiastically nominates Kelsey Rose for the 2019-2020 Margo Award for Outstanding Student Achievement in Field Practicum.


Jennifer McConico receives Margo Award for Outstanding MSW Clinical Student

Jennifer McConico-North Kansas City Hospital

Jennifer is on the Maternal Child Health Unit, which encompasses labor and delivery, postpartum care and the NICU. Jennifer's role includes completing psychosocial assessments for which there are consults for mothers with identified risk factors, triaging patients as appropriate from nurse referrals, completing follow up assessments with NICU families for patients who have longer stay. Jennifer's role includes promoting patients' rights and maximum benefits from health care services, proactively completing nonclinical chart review to assess for psychosocial, discharge planning and resource needs. Jennifer is also expected to act as a liaison between patients, family, physicians and other hospital staff, utilizing an interdisciplinary approach.

Jennifer has brought incredible assets to the Maternal Child Health Unit. Jennifer consistently displays kindness and empathy when she is working with patients and their families. Jennifer has helped implement a postpartum depression support group, to include meeting with community partners and hospital administration to propose and develop the plan for implementation. Jennifer has incredible insight and active listening skills, at the beginning of practicum when she was shadowing me and becoming familiar with the role of a social worker on this unit she would observe, hear and comment on things that I would miss - and she has only sharpened those skills as she has worked through practicum. Jennifer is constantly positive and asking where she can be helpful, not only to myself but to other staff in this unit. Jennifer always shows willingness and ability to compromise and be flexible when working with an interdisciplinary team to provide the safest discharge plan for a patient. She is also respectful, yet provides education to others on the team if a patient's needs are requiring a different viewpoint. Jennifer is very proactive. If there are a small number of assessments, Jennifer will perform a chart review on patients to ensure that there was not a need that was missed during their intake. Jennifer is great at being able to anticipate discharge needs and communicating those needs to others on the team. Jennifer has worked with outside agencies, including adoption agencies and the Children's Division, to coordinate a safe and appropriate discharge plan for all parties involved. Jennifer is always willing to go beyond the formal job description. In other downtimes, she researches best practices for working with women who are at risk for perinatal mood disorders and updates resources and info appropriately. During our supervision meetings, Jennifer talks about difficult situations. She works through the situations where she identifies her bias and easily identifies alternate strategies to approach more complex situations that can occur in this unit. There has never been a time when I have tasked Jennifer with something that she wasn't willing to complete and complete well. Her knowledge, expertise, passion, empathy, laughter, kindness, advocacy, self-awareness, active listening and trustworthiness will be greatly missed.

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