Graduation reception celebrates Fall 2016 social work graduates

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The College of Social Work celebrated its newest graduates at the fall graduation reception and pinning ceremony in the Oglesby Union Ballrooms in Tallahassee, Florida on December 16, 2016. Graduates were presented on stage with a College of Social Work pin. As one of the College’s more recent traditions, the pins commemorate the important step social work students take from the academic world to the professional world, and marks them as proud alumni of the FSU College of Social Work. 

Dean Jim Clark led the ceremony, presenting the event’s speakers, keynote speaker Lorita Shirley, chief of community-based care for Eckerd Kids, and student speaker Cynthia Hanifin.  


Cynthia Hanifin spoke first. Ms. Hanifin received her MSW (2016) and holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Northwestern University,. Sheworked as a journalist and writer for more than 20 years. Listening to the stories of others for years helped her to make the decision that she wanted to have a hand in helping people shape their own life stories, leading to her pursuit of her MSW. 

She was very active within the College, serving as vice president of the FSU Association of Student Social Workers, lead organizer for a Community Engagement Workshop, and head camp counselor for the College’s 2016 Arts & Athletics Camp. She also represented the College twice at the National Association of Social Workers Florida chapter’s Student Leadership Summit in Orlando, Florida.

“Now that I’m finished with my MSW program I can see how much I’ve learned about social work along the way. For one thing, there is no stereotypical social worker.” Ms. Hanifin said in her speech. “I’ve also realized that social workers aren’t fixers. They play a supportive role as people work to overcome their own challenges.”


Keynote speaker Lorita Shirley, (MSW) chief of community-based care for Eckerd Care, also spoke about her pride in being a Seminole and how important her social work degrees have been to opening doors and providing her with countless opportunities. Ms. Shirley received both her BSW and MSW from the FSU College of Social Work and has worked in both the public and private sector in child welfare. 

Starting at the Florida Department of Children and Families, she has overseen child welfare services, and continued in this role when the state of Florida privatized these services. Currently, Ms. Shirley has more than thirteen years of experience serving in leadership roles with three of Florida’s Community-Based Care lead Agencies charged with managing large, complex child welfare systems.

“I remember looking at these stats with the Department of Labor, and what stood out was that our career is one of the fastest growing career paths in the United States. And it was predicted that between the years 2012 and 2022 that social work would grow by nineteen percent,” Ms. Shirley reflected, “And you know what I said? People finally get the value of a great social work education. I can tell you that it is one of the most universal degrees you can have, and in terms of employability everybody wants to hire an individual that has been exposed to all that we get exposed to in this career path.”

The event concluded with students and their guests taking pictures and mingling with social work faculty and staff, and with Dean Clark encouraging the graduates to, “ wear that pin proudly. And remember, not only are you a social worker, you are an FSU social work alumnus!”

Friday, January 6, 2017 - 08:52 PM
Last updated: Wed, 05/23/2018 - 10:45 AM