Academic Leadership Awards: Leadership on and off campus

Academic leadership takes many forms. Two FSU College of Social Work students exemplify the abilities and talents necessary for a student to excel and to exemplify leadership on and off campus. MSW student Mandi Cauley and BSW student Zoe Genkin were awarded 2017 Academic Leadership Awards that were celebrated during the spring 2017 semester, each receiving an award for this honor.

Mandi CauleyMSW Student: Mandi Cauley

As a part-time student in the Online MSW Program and a full-time social worker and case management coordinator for the Pasco County Government, Mandi has experienced some unique challenges that separate her from other MSW students. Her example has displayed what is necessary to maintain a work/life balance that allows her to achieve and maintain a 4.0 GPA and meet her 40+ hours of responsibilities at work. In her nomination, Mandi was described as “uniquely positioned as a member of our greater FSU community through a distance learning program of the College, and it’s evident in her academic and professional work that she represents the College of Social Work and FSU beyond the parameters of a physical campus.”

She credits the accommodation of her employer by allowing work hour flexibility and the support of her husband for allowing her to fit a full-time job, internship hours and schoolwork into her busy schedule. “I take my class responsibilities pretty seriously. Although I am definitely guilty of procrastinating at times, I strive to produce quality work in every assignment I complete,” Mandi said. “I also believe my practical experience positively contributes to my schoolwork, as well as the support and guidance of the College’s faculty and staff!”

Utilizing this work ethic, Mandi has taken advantage of the opportunities and resources that have been made available to her. Applying for College of Social Work scholarships, she was awarded the Mark DeGraff and Lulu Hamilton DeGraff Scholarship, which is presented to a student intending to conduct research on factors influencing youth growth and development or to work professionally with youth.  She also maintains active memberships in her local chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the American Clinical Social Work Association (ACSWA) and the Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco County. Mandi notes that in the coalition she can participate in real-life discussions and initiatives that directly impact homeless individuals in her community. Her NASW and ACSWA memberships keep her current on social work news, information, research, and other continuing education resources.

Her advice for anyone pursuing their MSW part-time while working full time is to be prepared for the little sacrifices necessary to complete your degree. “It’s important to recognize up front that you cannot maintain the same level of social engagement that you had before. Be open and honest with those closest to you in your support system.”,” Mandi explained. “And if you’re studying something that you believe in and want to devote your life to, as I feel with social work, every minute is worth it.”

To learn more about the Online MSW Program or some of the scholarships available, visit https://onlinemsw.fsu.edu/online-master-social-work .

Zoe JenkinBSW Student: Zoe Genkin

Zoe Genkin, an undergraduate student with an extensive list of collegiate accomplishments also received the Academic Leadership Award. She came to FSU as a freshman wanting to get involved. She joined the Student Alumni Association’s Leadership Council, where she found out about even more opportunities to become connected on campus. She quickly became a civic youth program mentor, volunteering at local elementary school after school programs. And upon starting the BSW program with the FSU College of Social Work, she became a member of the first cohort of the CSW Student Ambassadors, working with peers and faculty to improve the College. She also volunteers as a conversation partner for international students and non-English speakers to improve their English language skills and serves as a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line.

Her enthusiasm and school spirit also channeled her energies into the FSU Lady Spirithunters, a group dedicated to school spirit and support, since her freshman year. She was rated the most involved member of the organization, and through Lady Spirithunters has participated in Dance Marathon, Relay for Life, The Big Event, and Intramural Sports.

This enthusiasm for community outreach and extracurricular activities is paired with strong organization skills that help keep her busy schedule and academics in sound order. “The most important thing that has helped me keep this balance was surrounding myself with peers that have the same goals that I do,” Zoe stressed. “They want to be involved at FSU while succeeding in their classes as well.” Zoe’s high academic record are reflected in her membership in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, an honor society that recognizes and elevates high achievers, and the Phi Sigma Theta Honor Society.

“Any student wanting to pursue similar interests should keep applying for and trying new things until they find out what is right for them,” Zoe said. “I’ve applied for positions and joined many clubs that did not work out, but all of them gave me opportunities to meet new people and find out about even more opportunities at FSU. Don’t get down if something doesn’t work out for you! Use it as motivation to try something new!”