Celebrating the champions of change at the 2023 Social Work Awards

Friday 3 November 2023

The School of Social Work recently celebrated their top students, who were commended for their academic and practical excellence alongside their ongoing commitment to the field.

From left to right: Jack Scanlan, Dr Paul’e Ruwhiu, Dr Hagyun Kim, Christina Reed, Thirusha Naidoo, Brooke Settle, Associate Professor Ksenija Napan and Professor Mark Henrickson.

The award ceremony took place on the Auckland campus and was attended by members of the School of Social Work team and proud whānau of the award recipients.

Senior Lecturer Dr Hagyun Kim, who has been organising these awards since starting with Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University in 2017, says they serve as a testament to the exceptional growing talent within the social work community.

“It’s really special to get to celebrate the remarkable individuals we have in our cohort who are becoming the driving force behind positive change and empowerment in the field of social work. These awards celebrate the dedication and skills of our students, but also highlight the impact they’re making in the lives of those they assist.”

Academic Excellence Award – BSW Year Four

Academic Excellence Award Bachelor of Social Work Year Four recipient Christina Reed.

Fourth-year Bachelor of Social Work student Christina Reed received the Academic Excellence Award and was acknowledged not only for her achievements within her study, but her continued perseverance.

“In my first year, I was doing terribly and getting C’s in my assignments but there’s been a lot of growth and I owe a big thank you to my lecturers who walked me through this journey. I’ve learned that it’s important to ask for help when you need it – don’t try to do it on your own. I have incredible lecturers who’ve always said to come to them if you need help, but it’s another thing to actually put your hand up and ask for it,” Christina says.

Christina had been unsure about what she wanted to do after finishing high school before coming across the social work degree and realising it felt right. She says she now feels she’s doing exactly what she was meant to do and that there’s no greater career than social work.

“It’s such an honour and a privilege to get to be part of people’s journeys and with social work, that’s exactly what you get to do. I get to come alongside people and support them through their life journey, like I’ve been supported through my degree. Since starting, I’ve never thought it’s not for me, it’s always felt like yes, this is what I want to do!”

While presenting this award, Dr Paul’e Ruwhiu, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, acknowledged Christina’s hard work.

“Coming into the Bachelor of Social Work at a young age is challenging for a lot of our students, but I have seen amazing growth in Christina from her first year to her fourth. She has not only developed in her skills personally but her research skills have really excelled as well. She has earned this and I see a beautiful, big future for her – go well.”

Academic Excellence Award – MASW Year Two

Academic Excellence Award Master of Applied Social Work Year Two recipient Brooke Settle.

Master of Applied Social Work second-year student Brooke Settle was honoured for her outstanding academic performance, achieving the top marks within her cohort to earn the Academic Excellence Award.

Upon accepting the award, Brooke spoke about how major the past two years have been, particularly as she had enrolled before finding out she was pregnant. Her son Nico, who was born in January this year, has since become an honorary member of the cohort by attending many lectures with his mum.

Miss Settle says she found her way into social work purely by just wanting to give it a go.

“Before I started studying with Massey, I got a job with Oranga Tamariki just to see if I was interested and I loved it and thought, let’s keep going. My first year was so much fun, filled with so much learning and making many new friends, but the second year by far as been my favourite. I’ve loved doing my research and have been so lucky to have Jack Scanlan and Dr Ruwhiu support me with that. I can’t thank them enough for their help on my journey and receiving this award means the world.”

Although it can be challenging, Miss Settle says the journey into social work is well worth it.

“If you’re interested in social work, don’t even question it, just do it. It’s amazing and you’ll always be able to use social work wherever you go. It can be overwhelming with the amount of study involved and surrounding demand but with the social work school being so supportive and made up of amazing lecturers, Massey has been the best place to study.”

Associate Professor Ksenija Napan bestowed the award and shared the very first assignment Brooke submitted, which she says told her Brooke had the makings of a social worker from the beginning.

“Her assignment was focused on the importance of connecting with others, the significant values of social work and being aware of the sensitivity and the ethical issues involved. She talked about her motivation to do social work and said she wanted to share her stories, inspire others, dream big and interact with people. This was her very first assignment and I don’t know how much higher than that you can fly, but she was competent when she arrived, and I hope that we have contributed to her competence growing.”

Social Work Practice Award

The Social Work Practice Award recognises the student that has demonstrated the highest calibre of competency in their placement, and has provided a positive and valuable contribution to the field.

Master of Applied Social Work student Madison Finnigan-Degarnham was this year’s award winner but was unable to receive the award in person due to being overseas.

Te Tohu Iti Kahurangi Award

The Te Tohu Iti Kahurangi Award was established to recognise a student who displays exceptional field education practice and outstanding academic achievements, alongside demonstrating the ability to successfully navigate an ethical or values-related challenge in their study or placement.

The recipient of this award is nominated by their peers, and was awarded this year to Master of Applied Social Work student Siafu Andrews, who was unable to accept it in person due to being overseas.

Related news

Exploring new ground in social work via well-travelled roads

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Hailing from Ireland, Master of Applied Social Work graduate Rebecca Conway’s travels led her to study in Aotearoa New Zealand, exploring the topic of green social work. Now, she begins her PhD journey in Germany as a Marie-Skłodowska-Curie fellow.

Social work graduate enriches journey through teaching, learning and powerlifting

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Registered social worker and Master of Social Work graduate Jane Lee is changing the narrative as she embarks on her PhD studies while uplifting the next generation of care providers.

A passion for people is the key to success for social work student

Tuesday 21 March 2023

Jade de Figueiredo wants to be able to help others navigate their journey in life so is studying towards a Bachelor of Social Work.