BSW student from IUB is named 2012 Outstanding BSW Student of the Year

Samantha Harrell, a Bachelor of Social Work student on the IUB campus, has been named the 2012 Outstanding BSW Student of the Year by the Indiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. The award is given to a student who exemplifies the values, ethics, goals and mission of the social work profession. Harrell also received a $1,000 scholarship.

Samantha Harrel and her paranets

Dr. Katharine Byers (Standing) Samantha Harrell
and her parents.

Dr. Katharine Byers, the BSW Program Director at IUB for the School of Social Work, noted in her nomination letter for Samantha, social work students are taught to work with people as equal partners in seeking social change and social justice. “Before she knew about this tenet of social work, as a high school senior, Samantha saw a need in her community for greater inclusion of students with disabilities. She partnered with her peers with disabilities to create a non-profit organization, the Floyd County Special Students Summer Program (FCSSSP), to bring students together for educational and social activities. Samantha enacted this vision early in her career, demonstrating her deep commitment to a core value in seeking social justice.” 

Samantha has served as President of FCSSSP since 2009, writing grants, monitoring funding, working with her Board of Directors on initiatives, and maintaining contact with students, parents, and others in the community, while being a full-time college student. Since December, Samantha has also worked as a direct support professional with LIFEDesigns, Inc., providing daily living assistance to adolescents with developmental disabilities, assisting with community inclusion and with self-expression of both needs and goals. 

“Samantha is a quiet leader, being soft-spoken and humble by nature. She does not ‘have’ to be the visible person in charge.  She has a collaborative style, valuing the perspectives of all participants and incorporating differences. She listens and helps frame inclusive group outcomes. She values the input and worth of each individual. Samantha highlights the essence of the discussion, crystallizing the goal and focus of leadership with FCSSSP where students have a deciding voice on the Board; Samantha emphasizes the importance of including the voices of students with disabilities, building on their strengths.”   

Dr. Byers noted that recently, Samantha was one of the leaders of the student group protesting tuition hikes at the I.U. Board of Trustees meeting. Her leadership was in the great tradition of non-violent protest. The student group conducted their own meeting alongside the Board of Trustees, using democratic and inclusive rules for group discussion. “We BSW faculty were pleased to see Samantha putting her social work values and skills to work. She continued to work to ensure that the student voice was heard in a follow-up meeting with the Dean of Students. Samantha has the persistence and commitment to work on issues until she achieves her goals.” In a recent student protest at the School of Social Work, Samantha was very firm, yet respectful, insisting that faculty understood all student concerns.  She pointed out challenges, while being positive and supportive, Dr. Byers said. “Her leadership and respect for her peers were impressive.”

“Samantha is one of our most outstanding BSW students, academically (current gpa 3.723). This year she was the university’s nominee for the Truman Scholarship.  She was selected as one of the finalists. Even being selected as a finalist is an honor for this most prestigious national scholarship.  

“Samantha has demonstrated her commitment to social justice and her ability to integrate social work skills and values in the community, even before her senior year practicum.  She has volunteered to work with people who are homeless here in Bloomington at several shelters, creating a volunteer manual, recruiting, and supervising volunteers. She has also volunteered for CASA and Best Buddies.”

Press Release Contact:
Rob Schneider
(317) 278-0303