Bensonhurst resident singled out for ‘Graduate Student of the Year Award’ by NY State Association
Bensonhurst resident Alina Kheyson, a second year master’s student at the Touro College Graduate School of Social Work, has been awarded the Graduate Student of the Year Award by the New York State Social Work Education Association (NYSSWEA).
The honor was bestowed at the association’s annual convention held recently in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where each year the organization presents a “student of the year award” to one undergraduate and one graduate student in social work who demonstrate strong academic achievement and leadership in school and/or the community. The winners are selected from among nominations submitted by accredited schools of social work in the state.
“Alina was chosen in recognition of her dedication to excellence in academic achievement, global and interprofessional perspectives and social work leadership,” said Dr. Carol Brownstein-Evans, president of the NYSSWEA, who presented the award at the annual meeting.
A student with a 4.0 GPA at Touro, Kheyson was born in the Ukraine and came to the U.S. with her family at the age of 9. She grew up in Brooklyn and began Brooklyn College straight out of high school at 16, where she majored in psychology and political science.
Originally, she pursued training in the medical field, but switched to social work, she said, because she wanted to work one-on-one with clients and was influenced by time she spent helping children in orphanages when she returned briefly to the Ukraine in 2010.
“I realized that illnesses come from whatever you’re feeling. If you’re not able to clear your feelings, you will be sick the rest of your life no matter what doctor you go to,” Kheyson said. “I like psychology more than medicine.”
During her time at Touro, Kheyson has developed a growing interest in New York’s social service system, leading her to earn a certificate in fundraising, nonprofit management and grant writing at New York University, as well as attend Spanish classes to learn the language and culture. A recipient of a UJA Federation of New York scholarship for emerging leaders, Kheyson says her dream is to establish a relief fund serving blind and disabled children and families living in poverty in the Ukraine.
“Alina Kheyson is an exceptional Touro Social Work Graduate student,” said Dr. Steven Huberman, dean of the Touro College Graduate School of Social Work. “Every day she seeks to give back to the community. She is caring and a program innovator. We are so proud of her leadership.”
Kheyson expressed her appreciation. “I’m very grateful to the faculty at Touro who have devoted their time and guidance to help get me through the MSW program, shaping me into the professional I am becoming and hope to be — and enabling me to receive this wonderful award,” she said.
The NYSSWEA provides a forum for social work administrators and students to share information, advocate on behalf of the social work education community and promote activities that support the profession and contributions of social workers.
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