The poster “Mezzo Level Interventions for the School-to-Prison Pipeline,” co-authored by master’s students Samantha Guz and Maya Williams, received the “Outstanding” recognition in the graduate category at the 40th Annual NASW Texas State Conference in Arlington, Texas.

“The school-to-prison pipeline is a violation of human rights as it does not allow students of color to experience a full and productive academic life. The boundaries between the criminal justice system and the education system have blurred, and our goal with this poster was to think about how social workers can intervene with this shrinking of boundaries,” Guz explains.

Guz and Williams conducted research on the school-to-prison pipeline for professor Lauren Gulbas‘s “Foundations of Social Justice” course, which asked students to explore a social justice issue and create steps to address it.

“Professor Gulbas’s passion for social justice and her encouragement helped Maya and I continue exploring this topic outside of class. Professor Kathy Armenta, who also encourages students to take action steps on issues important to them, gave me opportunities to do this formally in class assignments and informally, outside of class,” Guz says.

When asked how they feel about the “Outstanding” recognition for their poster, Guz and Williams have no hesitations.

“We feel honored that we received recognition at the NASW/TX Conference. Our experience working together has been wonderful, we have encouraged each other so much in this process. In addition, we grew personally and professionally through the guidance, mentorship and support of the social work staff, administration and faculty,” Williams says.