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First Cohort of MSW Online Students Graduate as Fall Semester Begins

Randy Magen in regalia at podium

As students moved into the dorms, participated in convocation, and the freshman class began their Boise State journey with the “B” on the Blue, the first cohort of Online Master of Social Work students celebrated the end of their Boise State journey with a hooding ceremony on Friday, August 18.

The Online Master of Social Work program began in January 2016. The summer graduates were in the Advanced Standing program, which means they already held an undergraduate degree in social work and could advance through the master’s program at a quicker pace. Since last fall, the students have been taking a series of seven-week courses. The seventeen graduates represent eight states, California, Idaho, Iowa, Georgia, New York, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

A string quartet from the Boise State Department of Music played as guests entered the Jordan Ballroom in the Student Union Building and found their seats. “Pomp and Circumstance” was heard as the School of Social Work faculty processed into the room, followed by the nine graduates who traveled to Boise for the ceremony. Other graduates watched the ceremony from their homes across the country in a live stream of the event.

The deans and associate deans of the College of Health Sciences and the Graduate College, as well as the dean of Extended Studies, attended the event.

Randy Magen, director of the School of Social Work, opened the ceremony. The deans of the College of Health Sciences and the Graduate College spoke of the dramatic difference social workers make in individuals’ lives and in the communities around them.

“The world desperately needs social workers,” said Tim Dunnagan, dean of the College of Health Sciences. “The United States’ rates of mental health ailments are astronomical and the demand for competent mental health professionals has never been higher. You have developed an important lens to look at individuals, groups and the environment in order to help people navigate and cope with the intersections of all three.”

“We know social workers make a difference,” said Tammi Vacha-Haase, dean of the Graduate College. “People love social workers. They trust you. They know you care. People rely on you, particularly around their big transitions in life.”

Nicole Lang, assistant director of field education for the School of Social Work, commended the field instructors in 11 states who “answered the call. They built relationships and trust in Boise State, a social work program unknown to them. We are so grateful for the field instructors as they play a vital part in the education of students.”

One area of social work that is in desperate need of well-trained social workers is the area of child welfare. Alyssa Reynolds, coordinator for the School of Social Work’s Scholar Program, introduced the first online Child Welfare Scholar, Jasmine Magaña, from Caldwell, Idaho. The Idaho Child Welfare Scholar Program provides a stipend funded by the Title IV-E of the Social Security Act to promising undergraduate and graduate social work students who are committed to practicing social work in the field of child welfare.

The ceremony concluded with the faculty hooding the nine graduates that were present. Jennifer Obenshain, Online Master of Social Work Coordinator, then read the names of the other eight graduates. A few were able to attend virtually by web camera and were able to wave at the guests in the Jordan ballroom.

For more information about the School of Social Work, visit