Students Amanda Spishak-Thomas and Jasmine Awad to Speak at Graduation

May 15 @ 12:48 pm

The Columbia School of Social Work is excited to announce this year’s PhD and MSW student speakers. Among their other achievements, both leaders have advocated for economic justice for their fellow students, fighting for better pay and benefits for student researchers and assistants and for paid practicums for social workers-in-training.

PhD graduate Amanda Spishak-Thomas

Mandi’s scholarship draws upon her experience as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and inpatient medical social worker, which informs how she understands health policies as wealth policies. Her research agenda centers the role of health insurance as a scaffold for low-income families, focusing on Medicaid, intergenerational wealth, and long-term care. While at the School of Social Work, Mandi served as a bargaining committee member, organizer, and rank-and-file member of the Student Workers of Columbia Local 2710, whose strike gained wide support and achieved prominence in the national news. In 2022 she was appointed to Brooklyn ‘s Community Board 6, where she represents her community in matters of transportation and public safety, working towards a greener and more just neighborhood. This fall, Mandi will join the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy as a Medicaid Research Scholar. Mandi received her BSW from Seattle University in 2012 and her MSW from Columbia in 2013.

MSW graduate Jasmine Awad

Jasmine (she/her) is a first-generation Egyptian woman born and raised in New York and a 2019 graduate of CUNY John Jay College. Jasmine is the President of Student Union, and she has served as an orientation leader for incoming students, a co-leader of the Abolition Caucus, and an advocate for paid internships through Payment for Placements. Jasmine has hosted multiple events and supported students in countless ways during her time at Columbia. She’s an advocate for abolition in many forms, especially of the prison-industrial complex. After graduation, Jasmine will be working as a Mitigation Specialist at the Osborne Association, a non-profit organization that serves individuals, families, and communities impacted by the criminal legal system.

Congratulations to Mandi and Jasmine, and we look forward to hearing your message.