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  • Home / News / Social work student earns top honor, slot in grad school | Ursuline College - Liberal Arts Education in Ohio

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    Social work student earns top honor, slot in grad school

    December 20, 2019

    Good news sometimes comes in twos. Senior social work major Matthew Rich recently learned that he has been accepted to graduate school and has earned the region’s top honor for social work students.

    Rich has been named BSW (for bachelor’s degree in social work) Student of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers, Ohio Chapter, Region III. Following a strong Ursuline College tradition, he is the fifteenth Ursuline student in the last 17 years to be so honored.

    “Ursuline College and its wonderful professors helped me get where I am today,” said Rich. “I have grown into the professional that the social work field expects of me.”

    In nominating Rich for the honor, Social Work Program Director Sharon Zimmerman Wilson, MSSA, LISW-S, wrote, “Matthew is an extraordinarily competent individual with a personal and professional value stance that supports his career choice in social work. He is a very serious and talented student.”

    Assistant Professor Stacey G. O'Brien, LISW-S, added, "Matt is a curious learner who has demonstrated a commitment to bettering himself as both a student and a citizen. He is open considering the multiple perspectives of any given issue which will contribute to his professional success."

    Rich recently began his senior year field placement at Ohio Living Breckenridge Village, while maintaining his position as administrative student trainee at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

    “My education at Ursuline College and my field placement at Breckenridge have prepared me for a future that I used to only dream about,” he said. “Ursuline has made me a critical thinker and an astute professional. If I had gone anywhere else for my bachelor of arts in social work, I would not be as successful as I am right now.”

    Rich was accepted into the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. “I very much believe that Ursuline College has prepared me for graduate school. I found Ursuline College to be a writing intensive school with an emphasis on critical thinking. This means that everything I have researched in social work had to be methodically coalesced to appropriately respond to the questions at hand. This method is exactly what graduate schools are doing. I can say for certainty that Ursuline College has prepared me for Case Western Reserve University in multiple ways.”

    A veteran, Rich hopes to continue with the VA as a social worker and pursue a doctorate in social work, among other certifications. “I truly am striving to achieve all that I can in this new profession of mine. Ursuline College will always be the foundation of all my success; it has been a wonderful experience for me.”

    Wilson says her student is on track for continued success. “(He) demonstrates the maturity, skills, and insight necessary to respond to the challenges presented in this placement… His professional skills in relationship building, critical thinking, and colleagueship will assist him in building the necessary networks needed to be successful in his field placement and in his future work as a social worker.”

    In total, 16 Ursuline social work majors have been named BSW Student of the Year since 1998. They are:

    2019 Matthew Rich
    2017 Shanell Harris
    2016 Karen Branscomb
    2015 Monique Primm
    2014 Nancy Wilson
    2013 Susan Postle
    2011 Celia Smith
    2010 Robyn Manchick
    2009 Mae Bennett
    2008 Susan H. Wood
    2006 Kelly Simmons
    2005 Alan Hejduk
    2004 Catherine Kopinsky
    2003 Rhonda Trice
    2002 Victoria Malone-Marion
    1998 Andrea Prizzi