The Pitt-Bradford Master of Social Work program has honored alumna Cheryl Tingley with its Excellence in Social Work Award.
The Pitt-Bradford MSW Alumni Network gave Tingley the award at its annual meeting and workshop held earlier this month. The program gives the award in memory of Pamela J. Cousins, an alumna and director of Children and Youth services in Elk County. She was a graduate of the Pitt-Bradford MSW program's first cohort.
Tingley, who is currently a mental health therapist with the Department of Community Services in Olean, N.Y., was nominated by her coworker Bre Farrell, who cited Tingley's passion for social justice.
“Cheryl has not only taught social work students, but I've seen her educate coworkers, peers and community members alike,” Farrell wrote in her nomination. “She has raised the expectation of those she surrounds herself with, to be informed and to make a difference. I've watched numerous times as a misinformed person had an 'a-ha' moment in regards to a misguided or uneducated opinion about welfare, Medicaid, community-based services or more because Cheryl took the time to talk to them.”
Tingley is an alumna of the MSW program's third cohort, which graduated in 2009.
She said, “Almost eight years ago, I spoke to the 2009 graduating cohort about striking out against injustice, and I encouraged advocacy and challenging the status quo. I also said that we do not do what we do to be recognized, but we do what we do because it is an inherent part of who we are.”
In her remarks, MSW program coordinator Stephanie Eckstrom pointed to some of the enduring qualities she sees in social workers, beginning with Dr. Marion Hathaway, an early professor at the Pitt School of Social Work who came under attack from Sen. Joseph McCarthy for teaching “that there are poor people in America.”
“I see her spirit in you, Cheryl, and in Pam, and in all of us here,” Eckstrom said. “We are all connected and part of something larger in our work for social justice and to make a difference for individuals, families, communities, our country, and our world.”
The MSW program at Pitt-Bradford is an outreach of the Pitt School of Social Work, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
The Bradford program is entering its 16th year and will graduate its seventh cohort in December. It is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and provides interested students in the region with the opportunity to earn a graduate degree in social work on a part-time, structured basis.
A new cohort is now forming. Those interested can contact Eckstrom at (814)362-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.