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UMPI Professor named Social Worker of the Year

A University of Maine at Presque Isle professor has received a top honor for those in the Social Work field in the State of Maine.

Shirley Rush, Associate Professor of Social Work at UMPI, was named the 2009 Social Worker of the Year by the Maine chapter of the National Association of Social Workers during the organization’s spring conference held at the Samoset Resort in Rockland in April. This is the second time Rush has received the award. She previously was given the award in 2000.

Rush, who has served as a professor at UMPI since 1998, was nominated and selected for the award based on her work as a Social Work educator, and for her work promoting social justice and international social work through the trips she has helped to facilitate for her students to the United Nations in New York City and to Guatemala.

In addition to this work, Rush serves as the chair of the Faculty Evaluation Committee for UMPI’s College of Professional Programs and as Advisor to the Student Organization of Social Workers.

“Shirley is one of those extraordinary people who doesn’t just dream big-she accomplishes big,” Clare Exner, Chair of the College of Professional Programs, said. “An incredible role model for her students, always supportive and always challenging them to go beyond what they thought they could do, Shirley’s passion for social work and social workers burns bright.”

The NASW Social Worker of the Year award is given to a member in good standing who integrates experience and education to help people personally and professionally, enlists support for improved social services, contributes to the public’s knowledge of social work in the recipient’s area of expertise, and reflects professional ethics.

During its spring conference, the Maine chapter of the NASW gave awards for Legislator, Agency, Citizen, Student and Social Worker of the year. Also during the event, student Glenda Wysote-Labillois was recognized as the recipient of UMPI’s Outstanding BSW Student Award. The Social Work program annually brings Social Work majors to the event to provide them with experience in attending a professional conference, and this year four UMPI students were able to participate, network, and learn about their future profession.

Rush’s award during this year’s conference adds to the Social Work program’s distinguished reputation around the state – all three Social Work faculty members at UMPI have earned recognition as the Maine Social Worker of the Year.