By Richard Aviles, USC MSW MPL 2019
On March 6th, 2018, at the USC Doheny Memorial Library, USC Women in Management (WIM) and METRANS hosted USC alum Suzanne Dworak-Peck in a lunch conversation centered around her life and career, her principles, and her advice. Suzanne Dworak-Peck has served as President of the National Association of Social Work, is a member of the USC Board of Trustees, and is a proud social work practitioner, and generously provided the naming gift for the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. We appreciate her sharing her time and thoughts with us, and both WIM and METRANS for making this event possible.
Dworak-Peck stressed to the audience of students, faculty, staff, and practitioners from varied backgrounds know that at the center of her work and career, the values of social work have been at her core. She noted that, as conveyed by the NASW’s Code of Ethics, social workers strive for “competence, dignity and worth of the person, human relationships, and social justice,” and these have been her guiding principles in all aspects of her life.
Dworak-Peck began her talk with a dilemma too common in the social work profession; for those people outside of the profession, social workers are believed to be simply “baby snatchers.” Dworak-Peck explained that the portrayal of social workers in the media does not do justice to the intricacies and pedagogy of the profession. As a dual degree student in Social Work and Planning, I am striving to follow in the legacy of Dworak-Peck: a nontraditional social work practitioner striving to find nontraditional solutions.
She reminded us that at a time where we have social movements like Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and Gun Violence Reform, it is more imperative than ever that we all reconnect to the principle of social justice. Dworak-Peck added that said principles are not limited to just the social work profession. As an example, she applied the NASW Code of Ethics in her real estate business, and believes that social workers can be, and work hand in hand with, developers, planners, artists, and politicians. Social workers, in the words of Suzanne Dworak-Peck, are driven by empathy; in a world that seems to be disconnected and disengaged, now is the time for social workers, and truly all of us, to step to the forefront and remind the world of the power of empathy and human connection.
About the Author: Richard Aviles
Aviles is a dancer, choreographer, and dual degree student. As an artist, Aviles focuses on choreographing queer and feminist theories in American Modern Dance. As a student, Aviles is interested in using his background in choreography to further his interest in spatial analysis and the role of social workers in the development process.