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Emily Arocha Wins 2020 Diana List Cullen Memorial Scholarship Award


On January 31, the New York State Society for Clinical Social Work (NYSCSW) will honor GSS student Emily Arocha with the 2020 Diana List Cullen Memorial First Year MSW Student Writing Scholarship Award. The ceremony, now in its tenth year, will operate virtually for the first time.

The NYSCSW board members selected Arocha’s paper, titled “Motivational Interviewing with Adolescents,” for its outstanding academic quality. Arocha will celebrate her achievement alongside scholars from seven Metropolitan-area graduate schools of social work.

“I’m so honored to be selected for this award,” she said.

Linda White-Ryan, Ph.D., dean of student services and a professor at GSS, submitted Arocha’s paper for scholarship consideration after receiving it in a substance abuse class.

“The paper was excellent,” White-Ryan said. “It was beyond just an end-of-semester research paper.”

White-Ryan said Arocha’s research displayed authority over the subject of motivational interviewing, defined as a non-confrontational method of working with adolescents to learn about their substance abuse. Interviewers then apply this acquired knowledge to help the adolescents reach their goals.

“I’m touched that Dean White-Ryan submitted my paper for consideration,” Arocha said. “She is an amazing professor.”

For White-Ryan, the feeling was mutual. The dean not only praised Arocha’s work for the piece, but her performance in the class as a whole.

“I saw a commitment to learning about a modality that can really help people,” White-Ryan said of Arocha. “Emily had a passion and commitment to her clients, strong interest in the material, and her responsiveness in class was beyond excellent. She was a bright light in my class.”

Arocha said the diversity of Fordham’s curriculum played a large role in her ability to succeed. From clinical to macro classes, the syllabi always kept her engaged.

“I’m thrilled with the educational resources I’ve received from Fordham,” she said. “I loved all my classes — clinical, research, policy — they opened me to many different kinds of careers.”

Career-thinking is the next step for Arocha, who will graduate this spring. She feels confident entering the workforce and continuing to strive for greatness.

“As a social worker, I’ll never stop learning and growing, and take what I’ve learned in this program into my career,” she said.

The award ceremony audience will watch a video of scholarship recipients being interviewed by NYSCSW committee members — the same ones who evaluated the winning papers. A virtual open house will follow, where faculty, family, and colleagues can congratulate the scholars.

“She’s bringing so much into the profession of social work,” White-Ryan said in her closing comments about Arocha. “I am so excited for her and proud that she will be entering the field as a Fordham alumna.”


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