Reflections on the New Zealand Mosque Shootings

On behalf of the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work, we extend our deepest condolences to the victims and their families, and our sympathy, support, and love for the Muslim community in New Zealand and around the globe.

As we learn the details of the March 15thshooting that killed 49 worshippers and wounded many others in two Christchurch mosques, we may feel shocked, angry, and sad. A house of worship is supposed to be a sanctuary, a refuge for prayer, reflection, and community comfort. That the alleged gunman would broadcast live footage of the mass murder on social media makes the situation even more disturbing and cruel.

We must not allow these horrifying events to spawn further acts of Islamophobia, White supremacy, or violence. We must counter the narratives of hate and intolerance with the messages of acceptance and respect for the dignity and worth of all people, regardless of religion, ethnicity, refugee status, or other social identity affiliation. We must identify people at risk of committing violence and intervene in a compassionate way to prevent such atrocities. We may not have all the answers, but inaction is not an option. Even small acts of kindness, respect, awareness, compassion and caring may have powerful effects.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 19th, 2019 from 9:00 am – 4:30 pm, our School in partnership with the FAU Brain Institute and the FAU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, will host the 2019 Violence Summit, which offers a series of workshops discussing violence from different perspectives.  Our keynote speaker is Dr. Jeremy Richman, Yale University Department of Psychiatry and father of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim, Avielle Richman.

We are honored to have such a strong showing of community support at this sold-out event. Our time together tomorrow could be an important step as we work together to tackle this complex issue and to create a community where diversity is not only embraced – but celebrated.


Naelys Luna, PhD
Professor and Director
Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work

Broward County Schools’ Social Work Intern of the Year

Congratulations to our Master of Social Work, Jennifer Karson, who was just named Broward County Schools’ Social Work Intern of the Year! We sat down with Jennifer for a quick Q&A to see what she has planned once she graduates with her MSW degree in May.

Q: What does it mean to you to be awarded this honor?
Receiving this award is such an honor for me, as I believe a social worker’s role in a school is critical to the growth and achievement of the students and their families. Throughout my internship with Broward County Public schools, I have been fortunate enough to work in all levels of the school setting, including individual and group counseling with students, community outreach for families in need, and working with the school’s administrative staff and teachers on ways to increase social-emotional learning throughout the school. This award is very meaningful to me because of how meaningful this internship has been to both my professional and personal development.

Q: What role has the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work at FAU played in your journey thus far?
The Sandler School of Social Work could not have been a better choice for me to receive my Masters in Social Work. It has provided me with the opportunities necessary to challenge and support my professional and personal development. Each professor and member of the Sandler School of Social Work ensure that each student is receiving the necessary clinical knowledge and practice experience to move forward and start a career after graduation as a competent and caring social worker.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I plan on continuing to work with youth in an educational/school setting and work toward gaining my licensure.

Q: What would you ultimately like to become in your social work career?
I ultimately would like to be a School Social Worker, but I also have a passion for advocacy and policy development so I am hoping to be in a position in the future that includes the two.

Q: What advice do you have for incoming freshmen who are considering studying social work?
Really explore all the opportunities that come your way so you can find what you are truly passionate about. And once you find what that is, take the initiative and immerse yourself in the field of social work through practice and coursework, and take advantage of everything this field has to offer!

We look forward to watching Jennifer’s exciting future continue to unfold!

National Association of Social Workers – FL Chapter Awards Top Honors

The Florida Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers recently awarded their annual top honors. Congratulations to these familiar faces who were among the big winners!

Palm Beach Unit

Assistant Professor Heather Howard, MSW, Ph.D., LICSW – “Social Work Educator of the Year”
Master of Social Work student Haidee Cano – “Social Work Student of the Year”

Broward Unit

Instructor David Landsman-Wohlifer, Ph.D., LCSW – “Social Work Educator of the Year”
Doctor of Social Work student Taryn Jamarillo – “Social Work Student of the Year”

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!