By Melissa Kelley and Danny Yarnall
The COVID-19 shutdown has brought a shift to academic schedules across the board, leaving little time to honor interns and student workers. While we were not able to recognize them in person, we would like to congratulate our team of social work students on their tremendous efforts and their completion of the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Social Work program.
“Our social work students play a vital role in providing support to our patients and their families and have enabled us to greatly expand the scope of our work,” said Alison Lynn, PMC’s associate director of social work.
This year’s crop of interns, Katherine Maddente, Alexa Acaba Berrocal, Clarise Ballesteros, and McEllen Lawrence, have been instrumental in providing the programs and care our PMC community relies on.
“Alex, McEllen, Katherine and Clarise worked tirelessly to run programming such as Creative Expression Through Music, Time Out, the Memory Cafe, our fall caregiver classes, and more,” Lynn said.
They’ve also been inspired and touched by those within the PMC community through their work here.
“PMC families exemplify ultimate resilience and love. I will never forget the families I have had the honor to work with,” Ballesteros said.
Ballesteros said she appreciates having been challenged in her time at PMC and provided with insight that has made her better as a social worker and therapist. She plans to work in family therapy after graduating as well as becoming more involved in developing programs and advocating for families impacted by dementia.
Acaba Berrocal credits the “amazing support” from the social work staff in developing her skills and said she feels blessed to have participated in a variety of great programs with caregivers, patients, and their families. After she graduates from her MSW program, she will be moving back to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to work as the manager of an ophthalmology private practice and work on planning her wedding.
Lawrence thanked the PMC staff, social work team, patients, and caregivers. She learned about many challenges our patients and caregivers encounter but also the examples of “resilience and compassion” they have set. She plans to continue to find ways of supporting caregivers and individuals with dementia while she works towards a doctorate in psychiatry.
Maddente said she is deeply grateful for the opportunity to work at PMC. She looks forward to continued work supporting older adults, caregivers, and their families. “I will miss those I have had the pleasure of supporting during my time at PMC,” she said.
“We miss them very much, but we know that they will go on to have long careers as clinicians and community advocates,” said Lynn.
The Penn Memory Center wishes the best to our 2020 social work interns and looks forward to welcoming a new cohort of MSW trainees in the fall.