Maya Tsekenis, a second-year master’s degree student in the Graduate School of Social Service (GSS), has been named Social Work Student of the Year by the New York State Social Work Education Association (NYSSWEA).
Tsekenis received an award on Friday, Oct. 5, at the association’s annual conference in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The association presents the award to both an undergraduate and graduate student who demonstrate social work leadership skills, outstanding scholarship and service to the community. Tsekenis founded and is president of the GSS Global Service student association. Global service is one of the areas of specialization that GSS offers graduate students.
“We are very pleased for Maya, and that one of our Fordham students is the recipient of this award,” said Elaine Congress, D.S.W., professor of social work and associate dean of GSS.
The daughter of two immigrant parents, one from Greece and one from Nicaragua, Tsekenis is pursuing a degree in international social work with a specialization in global service. She currently serves in internships with the International Federation of Social Workers at the United Nations and at Healthy Connections, a Brooklyn-based outpatient clinic.
“I am proud to be representing Fordham,” said Tsekenis, “I feel that the faculty is supportive and encouraging to all its students and make themselves accessible to us – this is a marvel at such a large university right in the center of a booming metropolis.”
For Tsekenis, the award came as a surprise.
“I’ve met with social work students from various programs who are doing such incredible things,” she said. “When I found out I was the recipient . . . it made the award that much more special to me.”
The award was presented by Congress and Carl Mazza, D.S.W., president of the NYSSWEA and assistant professor of sociology and social work at Lehman College. Mazza said that Tsekenis’ keen interest in international and social justice issues and her work with recent immigrants were impressive.
“We had several excellent candidates and it was a tough decision,” he said. “We thought that Maya fulfilled all the qualities of a professional social worker.”
NYSSEA is a statewide organization that provides a forum for the exchange of information between faculty, field instructors, students, and other social work practitioners regarding critical issues.
– Janet Sassi