2019 Division of Research Mentoring Award Winner

Dr. Morgan Cooley, Assistant Professor, was awarded the Research Mentoring Award 2019 by the FAU Division of Research for the 2019 calendar year term. “This award reflects the high opinion of the review group concerning the quality of [Morgan’s] proposed mentoring activities and the likelihood to succeed in her proposed activities,” according to the DoR’s announcement letter. Congratulations, Dr. Cooley!

2018 Alumni Talon Award Winner

Robin Rubin, MSW was honored at the FAU Talon Awards on November 8th as part of the 2018 Homecoming festivities. She was selected as the Alumni Talon Award winner for her commitment to teaching others to build their reservoir of position emotions, which she shares in her course entitled Social Work and Positive Well-Being in the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work.

Robin Rubin also spearheads the annual Phyllis Sandler Heart of Social Work event, which helps to fund scholarships for students, and she was an integral part of the Sandler’s generous gift, which named the School. Congratulations Instructor Rubin!

MSW Student Named Minority Fellow by Council on Social Work Education

The Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work is pleased to recognize Dre Johnson for being awarded a Minority Fellowship from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Johnson is one of only 40 students nationwide to receive this prestigious designation.

“Being named a CSWE Minority Fellow has truly been one of the most gratifying moments of my life,” Johnson said. “To me it means the voices of those who live between the margins will be heard. It speaks toward the collective work of a village and hopefully inspires other minorities to pursue their dream.”

In addition to being an Honorable Owl, Johnson is an experienced lobbyist, educator, and advocate who has published research on Systematic Racism and Equality – but his journey did not start here. Johnson was born and raised in New York, where he attended the State University of New York College at Brockport. There, Johnson earned the opportunity to become a member of the prestigious Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society. With his determination and ambition, Johnson decided to extend his education by studying African & African-American studies at the University of Ghana, located in West Africa.

To remain motivated, Johnson relies on his favorite motivational quote from human rights activist Malcolm X: “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

Congratulations, Dre!

Watch Dre present to the Broward County Public Schools Foster Care Program Office regarding a resolution to make November National Adoption Month, and check out their Tweet below:

View on Twitter

Senior Social Work Student Crowned Homecoming Queen 2018

Senior social work student Tajae Stringer believes that actions, not popularity, are what defines a person’s character, and this is a personal creed she has been practicing long before she was named Queen. Tajae has service hours on her transcript dating back to Fall 2015, her first semester at FAU, and she was on the Dean’s and President’s List in both Fall 2017 and Spring 2018.

After being nominated by her former sorority sister, completing an application, essay, and interview, and then being selected by her peers in a campus-wide vote, Tajae was named Homecoming Queen during the Saturday, November 10th homecoming football game.

How did you feel when you were on the field before your name was announced?

TS: Prior to hearing the announcement that I had won, I was soooooo nervous. I didn’t realize how many people were in the stands until I was on the field and saw them all looking at me. Right before we headed out to the center of the field, I heard some of my friends screaming my name, and hearing them definitely calmed my nerves a lot.

What does it mean to you to be named Homecoming Queen?

TS: Many times, in movies, the winning homecoming royalty members are typically extremely popular and viewed as the faces of their school. However, I do not believe that homecoming royalty should be determined by one’s popularity, but instead by their actions. I live by the quote, “actions speak louder than words” because, regardless of who you are or what title you have in front of your name, the longest impression you will leave on others is through your own personal actions.

FAU Homecoming 2018 Queen and King, Tajae Stringer and Juwan Hayes

FAU Homecoming 2018 Queen and King, Tajae Stringer and Juwan Hayes

What is your advice for students just starting their college careers at FAU?

TS: I came to FAU from Connecticut not knowing anyone in the state at all. It was quite overwhelming, but I knew that if I wanted to enjoy my experience here, I would have to get involved. Since I have been here, I have joined the Mentoring Project, Major Platforms, Women Empowerment Club, National Council of Negro Women, Fashion Forward, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

I have also worked at the Center for Teaching and Learning and as a Resident Assistant in Heritage Park Towers. In addition to my campus involvement, I have also been volunteering at Pearl City CATS since my freshman year as a tutor for the children at their after-school program. Through all of my involvement, I have really gotten the chance to build connections with so many wonderful individuals and give back to my community.

How does it feel to represent the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work at FAU with your crown?

TS: It’s a true honor. My experience with the Phyllis and Harvey Sander School of Social Work has been nothing short of amazing. Ever since I started taking more of my core classes for my major, every professor, advisor, and classmate I’ve met has made such a positive impact in my life, and I can’t wait to make the same type of impact in the future when I am a social worker. It truly is amazing to be surrounded by such supportive individuals who care to make a difference in the lives of others.

What are your plans after graduation?

TS: I am currently interning at the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in West Palm Beach. I shadow the Child Protective Investigators when they go out on their cases and when they go to court for shelter hearings. I am hoping to be accepted into the MSW Advanced Standing Program here at FAU after I graduate. In the future, I would love to start my own non-profit organization for children who come from low-income families to help support their academics and provide them with the necessary resources to do so.

Workers Without Paid Sick Leave Endure Financial Worries

BY GISELE GALOUSTIAN | 11/1/2018


Many Americans, even middle-class earners, are living paycheck-to-paycheck. While worrying about making ends meet is a common concern for many Americans, new research shows that it is even more troublesome for working adults without paid sick leave.

A study by researchers at Florida Atlantic University and Cleveland State University, published in the Journal of Social Service Research is the first to investigate the relationship between paid sick leave and financial worry. Even when controlling for education, race, sex, marital status, employment and insurance, the researchers have shown a positive association between not having paid sick leave and reporting financial worry.

Results show that Americans without paid sick leave were more likely to worry about both short-term financial issues like housing expenses, as well as long-term financial issues such as retirement or future bills for an illness or accident. The highest odds of reporting worry were associated with normal monthly bills. Indeed, respondents were 1.59 times more likely to report being “very worried” about these bills. Similarly, respondents who lack paid sick leave were 1.55 times more likely to report being “very worried” about paying rent, mortgage or other housing costs compared to workers with paid sick leave.

Concern about making the minimum payment on credit cards was statistically significant, too. The average U.S. household credit card debt topped $16,000 in 2017. Conversely, workers with paid sick leave were less likely to report worrying about common financial obligations.

“For Americans who are working without paid sick leave, a day lost can translate into lost wages or even place their employment in jeopardy. This contributes to the shaky financial situation in which many families already find themselves,” said LeaAnne DeRigne, Ph.D., senior author and an associate professor of FAU’s Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work within the College for Design and Social Inquiry. “Given worry’s known relationship to health, mental health, and employment productivity, findings from our latest study are really disconcerting.”

For the study, the researchers used the National Health Interview Survey 2015 data release and sampled 17,897 working adults between the ages of 18 and 64 in the U.S. in current paid employment. More than 40 percent of the sample size did not have paid sick leave, more than half were female, more than half were married, nearly three-quarters had some college education; and the majority (62 percent) were non-Hispanic white. The average age was 41.2 years, the mean family size was 2.6 persons; and more than 79 percent worked full-time.

Paid sick leave allows employees to balance work and family responsibilities while also managing their own health and that of their family members. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 68 percent of Americans and only 31 percent of part-time workers have access to paid sick days. Hispanic workers have the lowest access rates at only 45 percent. Only the U.S. and Japan do not mandate a national sick leave benefit.

“The costs of providing sick leave benefits may be lower than employers think when taking into account the costs of workers coming to work when they are sick or performing sub-optimally,” said Patricia Stoddard Dare, Ph.D., co-author and a professor in the School of Social Work at Cleveland State University. “Both employers and policy makers should consider the potential cost savings associated with offering a few guaranteed paid sick days.”

In their prior research, DeRigne and Stoddard-Dare showed that workers without paid sick leave benefits also reported a statistically significant higher level of psychological distress. They were 1.45 times more likely to report that their distress symptoms interfered “a lot” with their daily life and activities compared to workers with paid sick leave. Those most vulnerable: young, Hispanic, low-income and poorly educated populations. Their other research findings also showed that working adults without paid sick leave were three times more likely to have incomes below the poverty line and were more likely to experience food insecurity and require welfare services.

With this latest study, DeRigne and Stoddard-Dare have identified another vulnerability among these workers – an increased risk of financial worry. The researchers stress that mandating paid sick leave benefits may provide an additional safety net to support working families, especially low-income households for which a day of lost wages can be very difficult to absorb.

“The risk and fear of losing one’s job due to illness related absences can lead to people working while sick, which has serious public health implications especially as we are entering peak flu season,” said DeRigne. “Our research is providing further evidence of the importance of paid sick leave benefits to the economic health of families and in general to society.”

Co-authors of the study are Cyleste Collins, Ph.D., Linda M. Quinn, Ph.D., and Kimberly Fuller, Ph.D. from Cleveland State University.

Arthritis Study Wins “Best Paper” from American Journal of Public Health

JuYoung Park, Associate Professor in the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work, has won a highly-coveted “Best Paper of the Year” Editor’s Choice Award from the American Journal of Public Health for her co-authored study “Various Types of Arthritis in the United States: Prevalence and Age-Related Trends from 1999 to 2014”.

“Given the health and economic burden of arthritis, understanding prevalence trends is of significant public health interest,” Park said. “Because of these burdens, developing cost-saving and effective treatments are necessary to minimize arthritis symptoms, maximize functional capacity, reduce disability and, moreover, improve the quality of life for the more than 350 million people worldwide who are affected by arthritis.”

Dr. Park has been invited to attend the 2018 APHA Annual Meeting in San Diego to accept her award at the Public Health Awards Reception and Ceremony. The AJPH will also run a feature column on the winning publications in their December 2018 issue.