Campus Life

Recognizing social work

By Kori Wiggins

March is National Professional Social Work Month, and an opportunity to celebrate social worker’s contributions and achievements to society. Norfolk State University’s, Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work, is among the many programs developed to cover a variety of aspects in the field of social work including public health, addictions and mental health.

Dr. Ethelyn Ratcliff Strong, a Portsmouth, Virginia native and graduate of Virginia Union University, Norfolk division, was recognized as the first female African-American child welfare worker and supervisor with the Norfolk Department of Social Services.

In 1960, she became the heart in the development of the undergraduate program in social work, which was the only approved Council on Social Work Education program in Virginia at the time.

Committed to her work, Dr. Strong, along with Norfolk State President, Lyman Beecher Brooks, lobbied and testified before a special committee of the Virginia General Assembly, pushing for the 1972 legislation that authorized graduate degree programs at Norfolk State. The program was later established in 1974, laying the foundation for current students dedicated to helping others.

“I chose social work because I have a passion for people and I have a passion to serve,” said Derik Green, a senior social work major from Norfolk, Virginia.

Green decided to major in social work after learning about the pioneers in the field who implemented policies to support military veterans.