Social Work Students and Alumni

Natalie Koch, Social Work major alumni of graduating class 2009 

Natalie began her internship at Bethany Christian Services in 2008. She was fortunate to receive a full-time position there upon her graduation from Nyack College as a Pregnancy Counselor and Adoption Social Worker. 

Bethany Christian Services, founded in 1944, is a global nonprofit organization caring for orphans and vulnerable children on five continents. Bethany is recognized as a leader in social services worldwide, and is considered the largest adoption agency in the United States. The mission of Bethany Christian Services requires Natalie, along with her team of coworkers, to demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting and enhancing the lives of children and families around the world.  She currently serves as the lead staff member of the New York City office.  In this position she is required to meet with birthparents that face unplanned pregnancy, and walk alongside them in making an adoption plan.  She is also involved in adoption advocacy in the community, preparing presentations for local hospitals, high schools and crisis pregnancy centers.

Natalie finds fulfillment in her work because in her own words, “it’s exactly where my heart resonates. I have always been pro- life, so being able to work for an organization which enhances the dignity of each and every human life, and who stand for pro- life values, allows me to work each day for something I believe in. ”  Providing supportive counseling with an empathetic heart keeps her mindful of the extraordinary function of a social worker.  There are challenges each day, but with each challenge comes a new lesson that helps build her competence, which she is better able to serve her clients.

Natalie is currently in the stages of researching various MSW programs because she recognizes the significance of attaining greater knowledge in an ever-changing society. She is hoping to begin the MSW program by Fall 2013. 

Sera Han

Nyack College department of Social Work is pleased to share the story of alumna, Sera Han. In September 2012, Sera began a four month internship and missions program in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India with Word Made Flesh (WMF).  WMF is a mission’s organization that seeks to serve Jesus among the world’s vulnerable and poor and to make Jesus known through service in a holistic, incarnational ministry. In Kolkata, WMF serves among victims of extreme poverty and sexual exploitation, many of whom are victims of human trafficking.

Sera has joined WMF so that she can continue to learn about God's heart for justice and the poor, learn and serve in the areas of her passion and calling, and also seek the Lord about committing to missions and international development work long term.

Sera received her Bachelors of Social Work from Nyack College in May of 2011. She then went on to receive her Masters in Social Work and International Community Development from Monmouth University in May 2012.

Hai Yun Kim

Hai Yung Kim, graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Social Work from Nyack College in 2008. She later received her Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University. In July of 2012, Hai Yung was honored with the Mogryeon Medal of Civil Merit from the Korean Government, which was presented to her by the President of Botswana.

Hai Yung's life story is an example of defying the odds. She was born in 1965 into a family which celebrate the birth of sons, but not daughters.  She was thrown to the ground by her father, which resulted in the damage of her spine. According to an August 2012 article in the Korean Herald, “Hai Yung Kim's life was formerly full of affliction, failures and discrimination. [She was] permanently disabled by her father’s violence, habitually abused by her mother, and unwelcomed by schools, friends and society.”

Hai Yung's resilience began in her mid-twenties when she received an opportunity to volunteer in Africa.  As a volunteer, Hai Yung was involved with the education of the children in the village at Good Hope in Botswana. After four years of residing there, the vocational school was about to be terminated, but through the requests of the students, Hai-yung remained and reopened the school and became the president. Ms. Kim is currently working at the Miral Welfare Foundation in Africa as a manager of the Hope Project division. At the end of this project, she hopes to further her studies in social work.

Abe Emile

Abe Emile graduated from Nyack College in May of 2009, with his Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work (BSW).  He later attended Columbia University where he earned his Master’s in Social Work (MSW).  Abe is presently working with children and their families at the Jewish Board of Family & Children Services.  We asked Abe to share some of his experiences since graduating from Nyack College, and this is his story:

It is a great joy of mine to be a part of Nyack’s College Alum.  The friendships forged, the learning grasped and the Christian foundation has been the hallmark to my growth as a good individual in society, a good neighbor, and an excelling social worker.  These roots, I believe, has helped me to sink in and stay firmly rooted in new grounds – namely my graduate experience. 

Upon the commencement of graduate schooling at, Columbia University, School of Social Work, anxiety was high but excitement to start a new process usurped that anxious mood.  The experience was met with growth through introductions of rigorous academics which I believe courses, such as, Social Work Research, Understanding Diverse Population, and Human Development in the Social Environment, at Nyack, well equipped me to understand content and language.  However, the feeling of inferiority – which at the time I couldn’t imagine experiencing – took over in spare moments.  Being the only black male in an incoming class of 60 Advance Standing students made me realize the role of race, my perception of racism and it’s affect in the psychic of an individual from a stance of privilege and subjugated.  Though that was my dilemma to figure out, I did not doubt my ability to excel in my role as a student or product of Nyack College’s Social Work Program.  Applying skills I’ve learned during my tenure in Nyack’s social work program; Critical thinking, research, and writing ability, afforded me the opportunity to excel maintaining the same average GPA, at Columbia, that I’ve earned while at my Nyack College Social work program of 3.6 G.P.A. or better.  

Post-Graduate school, earning an MSW in the concentration of Social Enterprise Administration; a program that has afforded me with the opportunity to build knowledge, skills, and values in administering social service programs including social planning and program development, program evaluation, financial management, staff development and training, human resource management and supervision, and management information systems; I was employed as a Social Worker/Intake Coordinator for The Jewish Board of Family & Children Services, Inc’ Brooklyn Treatment Apartment Program.  There, clients, 18 years of age or older and diagnosed with a mental illness, were provided with transitional housing and also supporting them to fully integrate to community through normalizing a home-like environment for them and working with them to build basic living skills through the collaborative structured recovery goals.  

In the two and a half years since starting my post, it has been my privilege to work on behalf of Adults with Mental Illness.  Servicing and learning at my current job, I believe, will serve as a badge that marks my growth in, what I hope will be a long social work career.  Playing a role in the redemptive stories of adults who battle with functioning at a level prior to their diagnosis is rewarding but watching them achieve goals set by them is worthwhile and makes my work as a Social Worker ever more Valuable.  Looking at the trajectory of my life, it is hard to assess what the future holds, I would aspire to pursue a Ph.D., in Social Work, but I have yet to strive to ascertain a commendable achievement.  

"I am a social work major, and I know you do not have a lot of free time, so I will keep this short! However, I wanted to inform you that you have a seriously exceptional professor here. Dr. Carol Awasu has literally changed my life, my thinking, and my goals in a matter of one year just by being my professor. She is insightful, inspiring, and truly cares for her students. Dr. Awasu gave me confidence in my goals when I found encouragement nowhere else. What is exceptional, is that she does not just give encouragement in her words-but also in her actions. She slips encouragement and confidence into us whenever she can-sometimes we don't even notice it until later. She helps us clarify our identity in a manner so respectful that I often find myself astounded in class. She does not just say "you can do it" -she gives us real words of wisdom to SHOW us that we are able with God's help! I don't know how to put it into words well enough except that she encourages us with WISE words and educated information from her passion within. Thank you to whoever provided us with teachers like her. I just thought somebody should know. :D"