On November 15, 2022, the National Association of Social Workers Connecticut Chapter named University of Saint Joseph (USJ) MSW student Tawana Preston Student of the Year. She joined USJ Professor of Social Work and Equitable Community Practice Robert Madden, LCSW, J.D. in being honored by NASW; he was honored with a lifetime achievement award. The awards were presented in person by USJ Interim Dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Health and Science Madeline Peréz De Jesús.
Preston spoke about the honor she received this way: “Coming to USJ has changed my life! I decided I wanted to change my career. I returned to school in 2020 and have not looked back. My professors have challenged me to believe in myself and strive for greatness. Being selected to be the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Student of the Year is proof of what happened when I took their advice.”
USJ Assistant Professor of Social Work Christiana Best-Giacomini, Ph.D., LMSW, nominated Preston for the NASW, CT award and said “Tawana is a leader among her peers, providing them emotional support on a daily basis, and she plays a large role in advocating for current students, as well as recruiting future students. It’s a thrill to see her get this recognition.”
Preston credits USJ’s MSW program for not only helping her find her voice for herself, but for other students as the MSW Student Council Executive Board President. Preston also works as a graduate assistant with Assistant Professor of Social Work Molly Driessen, Ph.D., who is cultivating her research skills as a social worker. In addition, Preston served as a Social Work intern at A Mind’s Journey, LLC. in Hartford, CT, where her foundation in clinical social work began and prepared her for her current internship at Middlesex Community College where she is a Clinical Social Work intern in the Listening Lounge providing counseling to students, an experience that led her to be hired by Middlesex Community College as a Care Specialist advocating for students’ well-being.
University of Saint Joseph Professor Madden, who was honored with a lifetime achievement award, is also interim MSW Program Director at USJ. He joined the faculty in 1986. He is a licensed clinical social worker and attorney well-known in New England for social work ethics and law.
Learn more about USJ’s MSW program here.