Newman University honors Master of Social Work graduates with pinning

May 15, 2024
2024 Class - Newman University Master of Social Work
13 members of the 2024 Newman University Master of Social Work class attended this year's pinning ceremony

On May 2, Newman University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program held its annual pinning ceremony at the Dugan Gorges Conference Center, marking a significant milestone for the graduating students.

The event celebrated the achievements of 24 graduates who have completed their studies and are set to embark on their professional journeys in social work.

Jessica Bird, dean of the School of Education and Social Work, opened the ceremony with a warm welcome. Vanessa Rials, LMSW and director of field education, followed with the invocation, setting a reflective and appreciative tone for the proceedings.

Yelando Johnson, divisional chair and MSW program director
Johnson, divisional chair and MSW program director

Yelando Johnson, divisional chair and MSW program director, introduced the faculty and staff, recognizing their dedication and support in guiding the students through their academic journey. The ceremony also featured acknowledgments from Lindsey Stillwell, Bachelor of Social Work program director and Phi Alpha advisor. On behalf of Larry Heck, professor emeritus who was unable to attend the event, Stillwell also announced the Pi Gamma Mu society inductees.

Jessica Bird congratulates graduate
Bird congratulates a graduate.

Johnson introduced the students while Bird congratulated and personally handed each one a Newman MSW pin, symbolizing their readiness to serve and uplift communities.

“This pin is a badge of honor, symbolizing your commitment to social justice, your dedication to service, and your readiness to make a difference in the lives of those in need,” Bird told the graduates during the ceremony.

2024 MSW pinning ceremony

The 2024 MSW awardees are:

  • Abigail Acosta
  • Ashley Alvarez
  • Kristen Bauer
  • Alicia Camacho
  • Kathy Field
  • Idalia Gomez
  • Nanci Gonzalez (Colorado Springs)
  • Melissa Graves
  • Angela Hill
  • Bo Hui Kang
  • Olivia Kaufman
  • Crystal Khan
  • Maren Kingery
  • Jacob Kresky
  • Kaley Nicholson
  • Maggie Papalia (Colorado Springs)
  • Jessica Potter
  • Aubri Riley (Colorado Springs)
  • Joy Schutz (Colorado Springs)
  • Brandi Simon
  • Samantha Taylor (Colorado Springs)
  • Becky Tompkins
  • Annette Walters
  • Kirsten Yribia (Colorado Springs)
A paper shows the MSW Pinning Phi Alpha members and list of inductees
A paper shows the MSW-pinning Phi Alpha members and list of inductees

A commitment to the field

After the pinning and announcing the Phi Alpha and Pi Gamma Mu honorees, Rials led the newly pinned MSW graduates in the Social Work Profession Pledge, a promise to uphold the ethics and responsibilities of their chosen field.

The ceremony concluded with a reflection by Rials, emphasizing the importance of community and support in the field of social work.

Camacho (left)

The event was not just a formal tradition of the program but a celebration of the close-knit community that the program fosters.

Alicia Camacho, one of the graduates, reflected on the bond shared by her cohort.

“The experience has been amazing because this has been more than just classmates; it’s really been like a family,” she said.

She highlighted the mutual support that was pivotal in overcoming the challenges of graduate studies.

“We’ve supported each other, leaned on each other and shared everything with each other. It’s probably been one of the best experiences of my life,” she added.

Newman University’s 2024 MSW pinning ceremony was more than an academic capstone; it was a gathering of individuals committed to personal and professional growth and the service of society at large. As the graduates move forward, they carry not only a pin but also a lifelong mission to foster change and provide support where it is most needed.

Earn a Master of Social Work degree at Newman University

The MSW program offers students a supportive and individual education in the classroom and in field education.