WWU social work program to award two scholarships

Jane Bierdeman Fike
Jane Bierdeman Fike

The social work program at William Woods University will award two scholarships during March, which is Social Work Month. The Silver Social Work Scholarship and The Jane Bierdeman Fike Social Work Scholarship, will be awarded to WWU students enrolled in the undergraduate social work program.

There is no application process, as recipients are selected by faculty/staff based on their dedication to the program, financial need and promise in the field of social work.

The Silver Social Work Scholarship was established by an anonymous donor in recognition of 25 years of a rewarding career in social work.

“The social work program is honored to have been chosen to receive this scholarship, which will assist in reducing the educational cost of our students,” Dr. Elizabeth Wilson, associate professor and chair of the social work program, said.

In a statement sent to Wilson, the anonymous donor said, “I was motivated to offer a scholarship because I know what a difference having scholarships made in my being able to achieve my dream of a college degree. I chose the WWU Social Work Program because I tremendously value what is offered at a smaller, liberal arts university.  I believe students have greater opportunities to develop and receive more personalized support to achieve their potential and to explore options.”

The donor added, “Having had the opportunity to see some WWU social work students over time, I have seen them grow and develop. What has truly stood out was the students’ grasp on the heart of social work—the dignity and worth of each individual. I believe students learn and grow with a greater honesty in that approach to the field.

“Additionally, I feel that the William Woods social work students truly understand and embrace what I call ‘social work’s first love’—meeting the basic needs of people and advocating for them.”

The Silver Social Work Scholarship is faculty-nominated and will be awarded to a deserving social work junior or senior who shows promise in the field. The scholarship will be $500 or $1,000 and may be awarded to multiple students. The recipient will be also be determined based on financial need.

Current and former social work faculty gather with Jane Bierdeman Fike at the program's 20th anniversary in 2008.
Current and former social work faculty gather with Jane Bierdeman Fike at the program’s 20th anniversary in 2008.

The Jane Bierdeman Fike Scholarship is an endowed scholarship established by Bierdeman Fike. Although she was not a William Woods graduate, she helped establish the WWU social work program almost 30 years ago. She enjoyed a rich career as a psychiatric social worker and director of social work at Fulton State Hospital for more than 38 years.

“She was an unparalleled advocate for social justice, including civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and reducing the stigma of mental illness,” Wilson said. “In 2004, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The National Association of Social Workers and later was named one of the top 10 most influential national social workers by the NASW.”

The Jane Bierdeman Fike Scholarship also is faculty-nominated and will be awarded to a junior or senior studying mental health. The amount will be dependent upon the financial need of the student and may be awarded multiple years.