Graduate Students Wins Statewide Award for Social Work

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The National Association of Social Workers North Carolina Chapter (NASW-NC) has selected Master of Social Work (MSW) graduate student Aayla Alexander as the recipient of the 2016 NASW-NC Presidents’ Award

The award recognizes Alexander’s dedication to the social work profession through her academic excellence, community involvement and professional experience.

As an undergraduate, Alexander earned degree in psychology from Queens University of Charlotte. But a desire to become “a true advocate for those who do not have the ability, education or courage to stand up and speak for themselves,” pushed her pursue a career in social work, she said.

The Fayetteville native is an active member of the UNC Charlotte community. She serves as President of the UNC Charlotte Chapter of Advocates for Change, a group that connects campus and community organizations to enhance the quality of life for oppressed and vulnerable populations. Her recent work with the organization has focused on raising awareness and understanding for transgender people through collaboration with local LGBTQ agencies and community leaders.

Alexander is also an assistant in the UNC Charlotte Department of Gerontology, where she has focused on bridging the generation gap by teaching courses in technology and social media to senior citizens in the Charlotte area.

“Although the project’s mission was to teach seniors, they taught me to how to be selfless, empathetic and present in the process,” Alexander said. 

Alexander will take her passion for helping people across the Atlantic Ocean this spring as a part of a weeklong study abroad trip to Malawi. There, she and colleagues from UNC Charlotte School of Social Work will assist non-governmental organizations combatting HIV and AIDS.

After graduation, Alexander plans to work with the Peace Corps as part of their Community Youth Empowerment Program.

“Aayla is an amazing student, advocate and practitioner. She is destined to make exceptional contributions to the social work field!” said Leigh Norwood, Alexander’s clinical supervisor at the UNC Charlotte counseling center.

Alexander will be honored at the 2016 NASW-NC Ethics Conference and Awards Luncheon in Raleigh on March 29th.  

The National Association of Social Workers North Carolina Chapter (NASW-NC) and Wills Citty contributed to this news release.