Clements attended the three-day conference with Dr. Laurie Dahley, assistant professor of social work, and a group of senior social work students. Held in Minneapolis and attended by thousands of social service professionals, the MSSA conference presents opportunities for students to network and attend any of more than 130 educational sessions.
For Clements, being honored for her work in front of such a large gathering was a little intimidating but feels that her award is particularly meaningful as a first-generation college student who struggled academically early on.
“When I found the social work program, I found something that I was passionate about,” Clements said. “I went from almost flunking out of college to winning this award. My professors and my social work cohort have been a great blessing and have guided me through my journey here at Concordia. This award is a reflection of how great the social work program at Concordia truly is.”
Dahley remarked that the award is an affirmation of Clements’ hard work and dedication.
“For Mikayla to be recognized by this large organization for her past experiences and her future as a human service professional is highly significant,” Dahley said.
Dahley also sees the conference as an opportunity to introduce her seniors to the large network of social work professionals they’ll join after commencement. It’s an experience that consistently leaves an impression on her students.
“One of the student takeaways [from the conference] I hear over the years is the increased awareness of the profession they are entering,” Dahley said. “The impression that they are joining an important profession and will be engaged in vital work to the quality of life for our citizens has a great impact on the students who attend.”
After graduating this spring, Clements will pursue an advanced degree at Augsburg University. She hopes to work in the criminal justice system with families affected by incarceration as well as with black and underrepresented communities in regards to trauma and healing.