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Social Work Students and Faculty Present at the Global Conference on Women and Gender

A group of Norfolk State University School of Social Work students and faculty presented at the Global Conference on Women and Gender (GCWG) held at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA

The two-day conference, held yearly during Women’s History Month, brought together participants from all academic fields to engage in wide-ranging conversations about education as a catalyst for freedom and transformation.

During the conference, the School of Social Work faculty, Dr. Dianne Davis-Wagner and Dr. Val Livingston, presented on the pressure experienced by Black women in general but particularly those who reflect the stereotype of the super Black woman. They explored how Black women are intersectional and wear many hats and play many roles, such as wife, mother, employee, business owner, protector, and caregiver while experiencing many challenges to their physical and mental health due to racialized stress.

Social work students Devan Deisch, Felicia Person, Chajurnee Lomax, Amber Kochishan, and Dione Massey presentation reflected on their unusual sister circle that includes two White women and three Black women and how they have supported each other’s academic endeavors.

The presentation titled, “The Unusual Sister Circle: Transforming Minority Student Success--Does It Matter Which Race?", discussed their individual experiences of being college students. Deisch shared her perspective on experiencing her first minority experience as a White woman at an HBCU and utilizing resources like their sister circle. “My advice for women wanting to create a sister circle of success would be to keep an open mind to all different types of women, different ages, cultures, races, backgrounds, etc.,” said Deisch.

Massey reflected on her trauma to triumph journey and how she had to rely on the system as a young mother of four and overcame adversities to go back to college with the support of her children and husband, and now her sister circle.

Kochishan furthered the sentiment of the importance of their sister circle by saying, “When I got to school, our sister circle formed organically and has become a protective factor holding me accountable to my educational goals and directly resulting in my retention.”

Student participation in this conference gave them the opportunity to share the knowledge gained in their classes related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. “The conference allowed the students to gain more confidence in discussing and applying social work values. The panel presentation also allowed other attendees to see the quality of our social work students and the professional development opportunities afforded to NSU Social Work students.” said Dr. Livingston.

The group of Social Work students were also given the opportunity to co-author an article centered around their support of each other despite obvious differences (privilege vs. discrimination) with Dr. Livingston and Dr. Isiah Marshall, the new dean of the School of Social Work.