July 23, 2020
(HOUSTON, TX) - The Council on Social Work Education's Commission for Diversity and Social & Economic Justice selected fourth-year PhD Candidate Sujeeta Menon to receive the 2020 Community Partnership Action Award.
The Community Partnership Action Award was established "to honor the contributions of social work and social work students in advancing community partnership action."
Recognized recipients must be "a student who has engaged in a community partnership activity that successfully promoted social, economic, or environmental justice."
We asked Sujeeta Menon to share with us the significance of this award and how her experience working as a social worker in Singapore influenced her education and social work research.
Name: Sujeeta Menon
Preferred Pronouns: She/Her/ Hers
Program at the GCSW: PhD (4th year in Fall 2020)
Congratulations on being named a recipient of the 2020 Community Partnership Award by CSWE's Commission for Diversity and Social and Economic Justice! What is the importance of this award to you and your educational career?
This award is instrumental in shaping my research and practice agenda. I consider myself a Social Impact Scholar, where I can bridge research and practice to impact the communities we serve meaningfully. This endeavor involves building strong community partnerships that will help me achieve the goal of bridging research and practice.
In your biography, you are interested in improving the juvenile justice system process, especially as it pertains to its treatment of females. Why is the work/research you're doing so important when addressing these issues within these communities?
There is a literature shortage relating to justice-involved girls and their developmental pathways of offending and desisting, even though the share of juvenile crime among girls has been steadily rising over the last two decades. This lack of literature can be detrimental for our society, given the critical role that women play at the center of our families. If not addressed, this could lead to a social and family crisis, as the cycle of crime for the next generation within this subpopulation is particularly high. Targeted, gender-specific, evidence-based interventions can reverse this cycle and positively alter the reentry trajectories of justice-involved girls.
I know you are currently a Doctoral Candidate, but what has been a significant highlight during your time at the GCSW thus far?
I've had many highlights over the past four years. The program has given me space, support, and flexibility to explore my research interests and many opportunities to grow and learn from the best Academics in the Country! One of the major highlights in 2018 includes the Study abroad program to Ireland and the UK, organized by Dr. Leung at the GCSW. I had the opportunity to present my first article and publication with Dr. Monit Cheung to an international audience at The World Social Work Conference in Dublin. The exposure to international social work was indeed a rich experience. Two of my cohort mates, Sandra Jeter and John Bickel, also participated in this trip, and together with ten other students, we forged lifelong friendships over the 15 days trip.
What is it that initially lead you to continue your work and education in social work?
My prior working experience in Singapore propelled me to seek higher education in social work. I had the privilege of journeying with young girls involved in the justice system for four years, which changed my life. I focused on providing the best services and intervention to lead them toward a crime-free life, and hopes for a better future. However, the lack of evidence-based programs for girls, and the lack of attention to their trauma histories was disconcerting. Nonetheless, it gave me the impetus to obtain my Master's and Ph.D., partake in gender-specific research, engage in juvenile justice policymaking, and participate in advocacy events such as PUSHOUT- a community event that I organized with Change Happens and the GCSW in February 2020.
How has the GCSW prepared you for the current research and work you are doing?
The GCSW Doctoral program gives us opportunities to engage in research with other Professors, helps us with developing our research during our classes, which has prepared me for scholarly research to publish and present my scholarship at multiple conferences throughout the years. These national social work conferences have played an instrumental role in building my research agenda and networks with other scholars who have similar research interests. Through networking, I have formed workgroups and worked on research projects with scholars in different universities. The Professors have also connected me to their academic counterparts who have a similar research agenda. The guidance and support given by my Chair, Dr. Robbins, my supervisor, Professor Ginger Lucas, Dr. Cheung (who guided me for my first publication) and Dr. Lea (who nominated me for this award) have pushed me to higher standards and shaped me to be the scholar that I am today.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
The GCSW has supported every idea, initiative, and endeavor that I had, pushed me to achieve social, economic, and racial justice in my work and offered me multiple opportunities to serve others. I am thankful for the opportunity to receive this award; this is for our community!