Master’s student Liana Petruzzi received the Outstanding Student Poster Award (1st place) at the 39th Annual National Association of Social Workers (NASW)/Texas Conference in Galveston, TX, November 12-14.

Liana Petruzzi NASW TX
Liana Petruzzi at the NASW/TX conference

Petruzzi co-authored the poster, Psychosocial predictors of leadership skills among middle school girls, with Max Casero, from Communities in Schools Fulmore Middle School, and Amanda Barczyk, PhD, a research scientist at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.

Petruzzi completed her first field internship with Communities in Schools at Fulmore Middle School, where she worked closely with her field instructor, Max Casero. Petruzzi first observed and then co-facilitated an experiential leadership group with young adolescent girls.

“Liana expressed an interest in studying the effectiveness of a group intervention on the self-esteem and mental health of these young women. She began the process of obtaining baseline data in order to inform the curriculum in more effective ways, with particular sensitivity to ethnic diversity and need,” said Tammy Linseisen, a clinical faculty member at the School of Social Work and Petruzzi’s faculty advisor.

Petruzzi’s research found that lower levels of self-esteem were significantly correlated with higher levels of depression and anxiety. Further analysis found that depression, anxiety and self-esteem all significantly predicted leadership outcomes as well.

“Liana is full of intellectual curiosity and effective relational skills. She is exactly the budding social work professional we are proud to launch at the UT Austin School of Social Work!,” Linseisen said.

The NASW/Texas Chapter is the major professional social work organization in the state. NASW is committed to advancing professional social work practice and the profession; and to promoting human rights, social and economic justice, and unimpeded access to services for everyone. Its members work in a broad range of settings including hospitals and other health care settings, community agencies, government, academia, business, nursing homes, schools, and private practice.