The biggest hope of new FHSS faculty member Stacey Shaw is to do research that is useful for people working within vulnerable communities, refugees in particular. It was, in part, “a combination of opportunity and instinct” that originally drew her to the field of social work in general and her study of refugees specifically, and that continues to motivate her research and teaching today.
While a student, she went to many of the lectures put on by the Kennedy Center and ultimately met one of the speakers, Professor Jini Robi. It was she who introduced Dr. Shaw to the field and who aided her as she began to explore the study. Eventually, this lead to her traveling to Uganda and New York to research HIV prevention, and to Kazakhstan to study HIV risks.
She went on to obtain her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from BYU and a doctorate from Columbia University. Her work has taken her to Japan, Malaysia, Uganda, and Kazakhstan, focused on aiding the displaced individuals. Her research in that area is currently being used by foreign refugee camps and refugee service providers in Utah.She recently returned from Malaysia, where she was a Visiting Senior Lecturer at the University of Malaya (Malaysia).
She says, of that experience: “In Malaysia, I [was working] with a great team providing group mental health supports for refugees. I’d like to look further there at the role of religion and spirituality in coping and adjustment. Here in Utah, I’m collaborating with the International Rescue Committee. We’re interested in promoting extended case management for newly arriving refugees and identifying which service components are most critical in successful adjustment.”
Beyond research, though, her goal is to aid others. She also works with Project WINGS (Women Initiating New Goals of Safety). Using her research in the field, she has helped case workers to implement effective interventions for women under community supervision. Through resource connections, screening, personalized assessments and feedback, and safety planning, the women are taught to recognize both the causes and the types of violence. As most of the participants have been the victim of partner violence at some point in their lives, it is hoped that this training will prevent them from being victims again.
Perfectly in sync with her studies, Dr. Shaw, who joined our Social Work faculty this summer will be teaching Social Work 331: Social Welfare Policy in the Fall 2016 semester. Perhaps, she will be to current students what Professor Robi was to her. This post at BYU has given us a marvelous opportunity to further our understanding of social work through the lessons of someone who has learned much, experienced much, and accomplished much.