For Immediate Release

November 16, 2009

Seven Social Work Students Selected as Fellows for Training Program at The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center

New York, NY – Seven students from the Columbia University School of Social Work were selected as fellows at The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.  The Boggs Center is New Jersey’s federally designated University Center for Excellence in developmental disabilities education, research and service and is recognized nationally for its innovative community-based programs and its role in shaping disability policy and practice in New Jersey.

The seven students are:

Meredith Guberman, who is specializing in Advanced Clinical Practice with a focus on families, children and youth.  Through the fellowship program, she hopes to achieve a better understanding of the challenges faced by people with developmental disabilities.  Meredith has worked with children with special needs in inclusive camp settings and children with co-morbidity diagnoses in an in-patient hospital setting.  She has also worked with young adults on the autism spectrum as a life and job coach.

Vasavi Kumar, who is specializing in Social Enterprise Administration with a focus on aging.  Having already earned a Master’s in Special Education, she applied to the fellowship to broaden her knowledge and work expertise in the field of disabilities.  Prior to this fellowship, Vasavi volunteered in India for a year with young children who had developmental disabilities.  She increased access to disabilities information for families with disabled children in poor neighborhoods by using touch screen kiosks. 

Christina Lee, who is specializing in Advanced Clinical Practice with a focus on health, mental health, and disabilities.  Through the program, Christine hopes to develop recommended intervention guidelines on positive psychology applications for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and its complex issues of co-morbidity.  Her primary experience in the field of developmental disabilities has been as the mother of a son with autism.  She aspires to become a skilled social work professional who will work with other parents and children who need assistance.

Marisa Lloyd, who is specializing in Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming with a focus on international social welfare, immigrants, and refugees. She applied to the fellowship to expand her knowledge of disability, ADHD, and conduct disorder intervention programs in school systems.  Marisa hopes to achieve a broader knowledge base in pediatrics and disability, as well as build relationships with mentors and school administrators with whom she will be working.  She seeks to develop an evaluation system for the new Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA) and Positive Behavior Support programs through The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center.

Caroline Marks,
who is specializing in Advanced Clinical Practice with a focus on health, mental health, and disabilities.  She applied to the fellowship to expand her knowledge related to work with people with disabilities.  Caroline will be interviewing parents of children with disabilities who have received transplants to learn about their transplant experience and determine whether other supports can be put in place for the family.  Prior to this fellowship, Caroline worked at a school for children with autism and in an adult community program for people with physical disabilities.

Ani Sargsyan, who is specializing in Advanced Clinical Practice with a focus on health, mental health, and disabilities.  She is looking forward to the fellowship program to learn about providing community based care for children with disabilities, mental health needs, and behavior problems.  Prior to attending the School, Ani worked as a behavioral therapist with children who have developmental disabilities.  A native of Armenia, her long-term professional goal is to establish facilities in her home country to serve children with developmental disabilities and their families.

Laura Schwartz, who is specializing in Advanced Clinical Practice with a focus on health, mental health, and disabilities.  Through the training program, she hopes to enhance her professional skills for work with individuals who are dually diagnosed with developmental disabilities and psychiatric disorders.  Her previous experience with individuals with disabilities includes serving as a special needs camp counselor and basketball coach.

The seven students will acquire in-depth knowledge about developmental disabilities through participation in scholarship activities and in research and training projects at The Boggs Center or a partner organization. 

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