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2023 Graduation Award Recipients


The Graduate School of Social Service is proud to announce the award and scholarship recipients for the Class of 2023. For more on the 2023 Commencement, please visit our website.

2023 Graduation Student Speaker

dominque wallace-mills headshotDominique Wallace-Mills

“It is humbling and an honor to be chosen to represent the class of 2023!  My experience here at Fordham has been priceless. I’ve met, worked, and studied with some amazing people. People who will leave their mark in this world.  As Terence the African poet states, “I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me”.  This is SOCIAL WORK! The class of 2023 is as diverse and representative of the populations we will serve. I’m so appreciative to the Fordham family and donors for allowing me this opportunity. Nothing beats a failure but a try, and I’ve given it my all!  The class of 2023, we are resilient, strong, diverse, and empathetic, and we are HERE! Get ready, world — the class of 2023 is about to do some amazing things!!!!”


Dr. Peter B. Vaughan NASW Student Award (New York City)

maddox emerick headshotMaddox Emerick

“I am immensely grateful to receive the Dr. Peter B. Vaughan NASW Student Award – entering such a dynamic and important field, it is a distinct honor to be recognized for the way I approach my work. I owe my understanding of social work values to my GSS instructors, especially Dr. Jenn Lilly, and also am thankful to my family, both blood and chosen, for supporting me throughout this journey. This award is also for my transgender siblings, and I hope it demonstrates that we are vital to our communities, and worthy of celebration.”


NASW Student Award – Connecticut

avery t. price headshotAvery T. Price

“Receiving this award is a great honor. My time at Fordham GSSS fostered profound personal growth, invaluable insights, and a deep understanding of how I can be part of a positive change in the lives of so many.  As I embark on my career, I will carry the knowledge I acquired with gratitude. I am committed to making a meaningful impact in the lives of the individuals and families I work with and excited to be part of a profession that I am passionate about.”


The St. Peter Claver Award

khirstie diaz headshotKhirstie C. Diaz

“It is an honor to be able to receive this award. Fordham has opened many opportunities for me to be able to network with many professionals and meet others that have the same passion that I do. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my family and friends. Thank you Fordham for the memories! Class of 2023, We Made It!“


giana hubbard headshotGiana Hubbard

Being selected for the St. Peter Claver Award has been an absolute honor. I am so grateful to have attended Fordham and learned from such knowledgeable professors. I advise incoming students to remember that making mistakes is part of the journey and to be kind to yourself along the way. Learning is a beautiful process that involves both joyful and challenging moments. I want to thank Dr. Janna Heyman for inspiring me to be a better social worker and supporting me throughout my academic journey. In addition, I would like to thank Fordham Westchester for this lovely experience. I am beyond grateful and honored. I look forward to continuing my career by engaging in research, advocacy, academics, and direct practice. Congratulations to all!


Maria Mercedes Guzman Herrera headshotMaria Mercedes Guzman Herrera

“Studying at Fordham has been a very rewarding experience. I have been able to get to know amazing professors and peers that have become friends for life. I am thankful to them for the support they have provided to me over the last two years.”




emily r. mullin headshot Emily R. Mullin

“It is an honor to be chosen to receive the St. Peter Claver Award. I feel great appreciation and gratitude to be recognized for my efforts throughout the journey to complete my MSW. My time with the Fordham/Molloy GSS Program has been both a rewarding and challenging experience. This award is motivation to continue to speak up and advocate for my clients and challenge the system. It reassures me that I am where I belong. Thank you to the Fordham/Molloy GSS faculty and staff for your guidance and making these last three years so enjoyable. I would also like to recognize my family, friends, peers, work family, and clients who have taken this journey with me and shaped me into the social worker I am today. Congratulations class of 2023!”


kelsey c. mills headshotKelsey C. Mills

“I am honored and moved to receive the St. Peter Claver Award from the Graduate School of Social Service. The decision to come to GSS was truly life-changing, and I have been so immensely grateful to learn alongside the professors and colleagues I have met here. I am so appreciative of this celebratory moment as I take the next big step on my social work journey and as I look forward to bringing the passion, knowledge, and inspiration I have gained to each and every opportunity I have to be of service. Thank you to my family for their limitless support and a huge CONGRATULATIONS to the Class of 2023!”



nell cote headshotNell Cote

“As an older student, when I began my Fordham MSW journey, I was uncertain if I belonged; however, my professors and fellow students quickly made me feel part of the learning community.

During my field placement at an alternative to incarceration program, my fellow facilitators were formerly incarcerated men of color. As the participants and facilitators eyed me with suspicion, I experienced being othered. Once again I was uncertain if I belonged. Using my generalist knowledge and skills imparted to me by my Fordham professors, I was able to objectively understand my experience and bridge the cultural divide. As an older white woman, I brought new perspectives to their conversations, and in turn, learned more about their views and needs.

Thank you Fordham for two great years and providing me with the foundation to make a difference.”

The Esther Jean Arnhold Award

chelsea bonosky headshotChelsea M. Bonosky

“With an untraditional path to this advanced degree, receiving the Esther Jean Arnhold Award for my work embracing the arts in social work is a convergence of my careers as a performing artist and a social activist. I am honored to be a recipient of this award and support the power of art in our field.”




Jessica Giovanetti headshotJessica Giovanetti

“I am honored to receive the Esther Jean Arnhold Award for the recognition of my efforts to incorporate the arts in my work with children. Art is a huge part of my life and I am grateful for the positive impact it has had on me. In my work, I have seen how the arts can truly empower our youth and the benefits of self-expression that come with creativity! Thank you to my family and to GSS for all the support along the way!”


Ann Walsh Award

julianna larock headshotJulianna M. Larock

“I am truly honored to receive the Ann Walsh award. I feel like I’ve grown so much this year, and that Fordham has provided me with challenging and rewarding experiences that have really pushed me to learn about our society, other people, and myself. I cannot wait to see where my career takes me and I am now more inspired than ever to promote social change. There is a lot of work to be done, but I have had the pleasure of meeting so many people who are passionate about this work.”



junior philippe headshotJunior L. Philippe

“My experience at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service has been both intense and inspiring.  Intense, because I was entering a new field, and my track was two years.  At times, it was challenging managing my schoolwork and internship responsibilities.  Inspiring, because I feel like I was welcomed by the Fordham University GSS community.  I have encountered rejection in the past, so from my standpoint, being accepted into the Graduate School of Social Service, meant that GSS believed that I would be successful in the field of Social Work, because I also adhere to the philosophy of affecting positive social change.  Receiving the Ann Walsh Award signifies that I have remained steadfast in that belief, during the past two years, and have become committed to promoting this core principle in the future.  One quote that would represent my experience would be that ‘Hard work is inspiring.'”


Fordham Hartford Partnership Program in Aging Education

Terrence Ian Flinn


West Side Inter-Agency Council for the Aging Beatrice M. Goldberg Scholarship

Colleen Scheuer


The John G. Sullivan Award

salif zongo headshotSalif Zongo

“My journey to Fordham University has been like a dream. While I was attending Fordham University, I have been working full time as a Community Health Worker (CHW) at Bellevue / NYC Health + Hospitals. As a CHW, my role is to effectively interact with undocumented, homeless people suffering from mental illness, substance abuse and to identify complex barriers to primary care. One of the street homeless people that I helped to get a bed in Safe Haven said, ‘Being homeless is not being hopeless, and I am grateful to have learned about your Safety Net Clinic at Bellevue. I now have an address and will not have to worry about the cold weather in the upcoming winter.’ I would be very happy if I got to hear this type of story again and again. Now that I am being considered to carry on with John G. Sullivan’s legacy after graduation, it will be an honor and privilege to continue pitching in and impacting the lives of homeless people, and the marginalized ones. Growing up in Burkina Faso, my life story includes my long childhood treks in dangerous conditions to attend school, and I was profoundly committed toeducation. My plan is to spend my life making sure that overlooked and underserved people get the attention they need and deserve, with dignity and compassion. It is hard to recognize one’s own potential, but being considered for this award in such a highly renowned institution like Fordham University makes me realize that I have more potential than I previously thought.”


The Thea Bowman, Ph.D., F.S.P.A., Research Award

susan groman headshotSusan L. Groman

“It is an honor to receive this award. Thank you to my Fordham family, my Mom, Sister and friends who held me up as I worked to honor this research project. We are stronger together than ever we are apart.”




Xiaofang Liu headshotXiaofang Liu

“I am very honored to receive this award. Achieving this degree is one of the most significant steps in my professional career. I am also accepting this award on behalf of my mentor, Dr. Cathy Berkman, who guided and supported me during my doctoral study journey and was ever-present to help me achieve this important goal. The philosophy that drives me to work and study hospice and palliative care is that a good death is about living life to the fullest. I am immensely grateful and feel encouraged to continue contributing to this field. Thank you!”


Allegra Benveniste Honigman Award

Dillon M. McSpedon

Dillon McSpedon headshot“It means a lot to me to receive this award! I would not be in this position if it was not for my amazing wife and the Professors and staff of Fordham University. They pushed me to do my best, even when the light at the end of the tunnel seemed distant. I just want to say thank you to everyone for the support and the opportunity!”


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