UND chapter of Phi Alpha wins awards for community service at national social work conference


Amy Halvorson

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines


The University of North Dakota's chapter of Phi Alpha, a social work national honor society, recently was named the Phi Alpha Honor Society National Chapter Service Award for the 2013-2014 academic year.

This award came with $500 to fund the student chapter as it continues to conduct service projects.

This is the second time in three years that UND's chapter has won the national award, competing against more than 1,000 chapters throughout the country.

UND's chapter has devoted a significant amount of time and energy to service projects during the academic year, working on 18 different projects.

UND also took home first place in a poster presentation. The poster project highlighted "The Amazing Race for Courage," one the service projects UND's chapter has carried out in the last year.

"This was an opportunity to educate the community and participants, as well as members of the chapter, about the issue of child abuse, specifically children who have been sexually abused," said George Jirout, former president of UND's Phi Alpha chapter, who attended the Council of Social Work Education Conference (CSWE) in Tampa, Fla., and accepted the awards.

Students members of UND's Phi Alpha were honored for raising money for the Red River Children Advocacy Center, which uses harm-reduction strategies in assisting survivors of abuse to describe their assaults while minimizing secondary trauma. Parties involved in abuse cases, such as law enforcement, court officials, psychologists and physicians listen behind one way mirrors as social workers help children detail the assault. This allows the children to describe the incident once instead of revisiting the trauma multiple times. The advocacy center is set up as a child friendly environment with stuffed animals and other items to help a child feel like they are in a safe and secure environment.

The students also assisted with "Project Night Light," where handmade blankets were made and assembled with toys, toiletries, books and other items that could then be given to the children when they are ready to leave the Red River Children Advocacy Center.

Other service projects included the "Empty Bowl Project," which raised funding for the local food pantry, as well as the "Blood Cancer Swab Drive," which resulted in several matches and a bone marrow donation.

"We have had outstanding mentorship from our faculty advisor, Barb Kramer; and eight faculty members from the department came to the CSWE Conference to support us, including our field director, field supervisor and field liaison." Jirout continued, "Every component of the capstone curriculum was there to support us."

UND's Social Work program is part of the College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines.

About Phi Alpha:

The purpose of Phi Alpha Honor Society is to provide an opportunity for closer bonding among students of social work and to promote humanitarian goals and ideals. Phi Alpha fosters high standards of education for social workers. Its membership comprises people who have attained excellence in scholarship and achievement in social work.