April 2021

From the Director
2021–2022 Masters Fellowship Application 
Counseling Awareness Month and Interdisciplinary Practice
Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Cho Kim, LCSW
Honoring Arab-American Heritage: Recognition and Justice
MSWs in the Making: MFP Master's Graduates 2021
Job Announcements
Professional Development
CSWE Spark!

From the Director

Dear Fellows and Alumni, 

April is National Minority Health Month with the theme, “Active and Healthy.” Within the MFP, we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on all of us, and our communities. As more of us become eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations and the transmission rates subside, we’ll be able to engage in activities that support our health and mental health. How we look at our health is important. In this month’s Connect, current doctoral fellow Jessica Saba advocates for Arab Americans to be seen and counted in new ways. Meanwhile, Jessica Kim shares how we need to address racial trauma to improve Asian Americans’ mental health. She credits the MFP for helping her share her voice as part of the #StopAsianHate movement. Ensuring that our experiences are counted and understood is important as we make a difference in the spaces we occupy. 

As MFP fellows and alumni, we see how important it is to occupy space—in professional practice, throughout the educational system, as faculty members and researchers, and in our communities. We know how hard it is to occupy these spaces when they’re predominantly White. We’ve experienced how manufactured chaos divides minoritized groups while perpetuating White supremacy. This month, we see current fellows using their voices.  

During our master’s fellows virtual training on March 28–30, the fellows shared the benefits of having the MFP space for conversations about their experiences to find support and commonality across the country. They had important conversations with each other, MFP alumni, and speakers about their experience through their master’s programs and their imminent transition into the workforce. The MFP will continue to convene these spaces for fellows and alumni through CSWE Spark and other periodic virtual meetings. As we look forward to the next fellowship year, I encourage you to share the MFP master’s application with potential applicants.   

In Fellowship, 

Duy Nguyen, PhD 

Director, Minority Fellowship Program

 

2021–2022 Master's Fellowship Application

CSWE’s MFP is pleased to announce the opening of our 2021–2022 Master's MFP application cycle! The application became available on April 5, 2021, and will close on May 11, 2021, at 5:00 PM (EDT). Information on how to apply can be found here

 

Counseling Awareness Month and Interdisciplinary Practice 

In observance of Counseling Awareness Month, the CSWE MFP is recognizing the value of interdisciplinary practice among social workers, counselors, and other professionals in the mental health and substance abuse spheres. Spencer L. Middleton, associate director of MFP, shares the following reflections on this. 

Interdisciplinary practice in the field of social work is growing in popularity as the discipline continues to witness an alarming rate of individuals experiencing both mental health and substance use disorders. When developing an intervention for the above co-occurring health concerns, social workers are drawn to collaborate or work as a team with psychiatrists, nurses, counselors, and certified substance abuse counselors. In addition to taking responsibility for coordinating their information and interventions, each discipline highlights any social barriers (e.g., racism) that may be obstacles to treatment, thus ensuring that interventions and treatment modalities have an antiracist knowledge base/framework. 

The CSWE MFP is excited to partner with the American Psychological Association to help advance interdisciplinary practice in social work by offering the Interdisciplinary Minority Fellowship Program. The purpose of this fellowship program is to support the training of ethnic minority graduate students (doctoral and master’s) who are committed to improving the quality of care for ethnic and racial minorities who have mental or co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. Applications are currently open until April 15, 2021. Learn more and apply here.  

Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Cho Kim, LCSW

Jessica Cho Kim is a current MFP fellow and University of Pennsylvania doctoral student who is passionate about improving culturally congruent access to mental health services for Asian American youths and families, providing community consultation and training to empower Asian American stakeholders and working with social sector organizations to expand on conventional models of service delivery. She recently wrote “A Call to Healing Asian Racialized Trauma,” a thoughtful piece that resonates with many who feel seen for the very first time. “The MFP experience has provided the support and network I’ve needed to feel empowered to use my voice,” says Ms. Kim. She intends to continue to use her voice to advance scholarship in disaggregated Asian American mental health research that informs meaningful interventions in respective ethnic communities. Furthermore, Ms. Kim’s careers goals revolve around providing clinical consultation to train and equip mental health providers, students, and community stakeholders in culturally congruent mental health policy and practice.  

Honoring Arab-American Heritage: Recognition and Justice

Jessica Saba, MSW (Current MFP Doctoral Fellow) 

I was enjoying a morning walk with my friend. “Can I ask you a question?” She paused and then added, “I don’t mean to be offensive.” My heart raced, and I noticed my body tense up, and I let out some nervous laughter. “What do you mark on the census?” The day before, she had seen an advertisement for the 2020 census, and she recognized something was missing. I felt validated because with family origins in Palestine, this has been my struggle since grade school. Looking at the neat boxes, I feel confused about where I fit. I alternate between opting for “other,” Asian, and Latina. Palestine is in Western Asia, and my mother’s family is in Chile, having immigrated from Palestine in the 1800s. I recognized from a young age that the complexity of my identity was not represented on paper. 

In light of the observance of Arab Heritage Month and National Minority Health Month in April, I would like to share some thoughts on Arab representation and experiences in the United States.  

There is no ethnic or racial category for Arab Americans, as we are instructed to mark White on state and federal surveys. This means that an entire community of South West Asian, North African folks is rendered invisible. Estimates of Arab Americans range from 2 million to 3.6 million (Arab American Institute, 2018). Inaccurate numbers are problematic, especially as related to the allocation of resources. Beyond the lack of recognition, health data is not being adequately tracked, and health disparities are difficult to identify because demographic surveys typically rely on the U.S. Census categories. 

Early immigrants, particularly those from the Levant region (Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan) fought to be categorized as White to avoid anti-Asian exclusionary and racist policies and gain U.S. citizenship, which was reserved for free White people (Kayyali, 2013). Although on paper Arabs are categorized as White, this does not translate to social privileges. Additionally, racism against Arabs and Muslims has been linked to adverse health outcomes (Samari et al., 2018). 

As social workers, our profession’s values and mission urge us to advocate for social justice. This starts with educating ourselves and others about the continuing racism toward Arabs and Muslims. This includes recognizing and addressing intergenerational trauma in this community, especially as so many immigrated to the United States fleeing war, displacement, and economic devastation. 

As social workers, we should continuously interrogate our own biases and dismantle White supremacy. We must work to challenge anti-Arab racism interpersonally and politically. Finally, this issue is not independent of other struggles for justice and equity and should be engaged as a part of a broader antiracist and anti-oppressive movement. As Dr. King reminds us, “an injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.” 


References 

Arab American Institute Foundation (2018, April). Demographics. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c96c17de5f7d145081a1f94/t/5ca26409a4222f1874262cb9/1554146316265/National_Demographics_SubAncestries+2018.pdf 

Beydoun, K. (2016). Boxed in: Reclassification of Arab Americans on the U.S. Census as progress or peril?  Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, 47, 693–760. https://ssrn.com/abstract=2760604 

Kayyali, R. (2013). U.S. Census classifications and Arab Americans: Contestations and definitions of identity markers. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39, 1299–1318. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2013.778150 

 Samari, G., Alcalá, H. E., & Sharif, M. Z. (2018). Islamophobia, health, and public health: A systematic literature review. American Journal of Public Health, 108(6), e1–e9. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304402
 

MSWs in the Making: MFP Master's Graduates 2021

The MFP is proud to share “MSWs in the Making,” a booklet that highlights the experience, interests, and career ambitions of our current cohort of master’s fellows. These 42 fellows are poised to make lasting impacts on individuals, groups, and communities through their post-MSW practice. As you explore their background information, please take a moment to consider ways in which fellows’ experiences and goals align with professional opportunities in your sphere.