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“It’s a Source of Pride to be Graduating from Fordham GSS”


When Ava Iannitti, GSS ’20, thinks about her career in social work, two words come to mind: confidence and pride. Not only about where she’s going, but how she got there. 

Photo courtesy of Ava Iannitti

“It’s a source of pride to be graduating from Fordham GSS,” she said. “I feel very confident going into the field knowing that I come from the Fordham Family.”

A Bronx native, Iannitti grew up with Fordham University, taking detours through Rose Hill en route to the local pizza shop. Over the years, the university and what it stood for acted as a staple in her community. That’s why when it came time to choose a graduate school, she knew GSS would provide the value system and lived experience she needed to succeed in the field. 

“I decided to go to Fordham because I felt as though there was more of a commitment to social justice, and it felt more authentic,” she said. 

The Importance of Communication in Social Work

Iannitti recently served as a trainee for the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) Program at the Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD). She presented her research at LEND’s annual symposium on April 30. The presentation, titled Assessing Cultural and Linguistic Competency of a Disability Organization, focused on the importance of health care organizations and providers to have the ability to understand and accommodate the cultural and linguistic needs of the people they serve.  

“If you cannot effectively engage with your client, you can’t really do anything,” she said. “There is no work to be done.”

Through her internship with LEND, Iannitti learned the importance of communication as it relates to connectivity and trust with a client. The experience allowed her to address the accessibility of the system clients and their families must navigate.

“There’s something to be said about seeing a family or individual have to navigate the system to even get to your door, and what that means, especially for someone with disabilities of any kind,” she said. 

And that communication doesn’t stop at language. Iannitti’s research also highlighted the significance of diversity in social work, especially as it pertains to culture.

“It comes down to having that baseline understanding of communication beyond just language,” she said. “You have to be able to meet that demand, or you’re not going to be effective.”

Looking Ahead

Iannitti’s voice beams when she speaks about her upcoming position at The Children’s Village, a nationally-recognized children and families based nonprofit, where she’ll start her career. She thanks the Fordham GSS model for her preparedness heading into the field. 

“What I really love about the Fordham model is the practicality that comes with the courses that makes me feel more prepared to help individuals, families, groups, and communities,” she said. 


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