Veteran named student of the year by the National Association of Social Workers

October 30, 2023

Nebiyou Masresha smiles in a close-up headshot.

The Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Social Workers has named Quinnipiac's Nebiyou Masresha, MSW ’23, as its student of the year.

The award recognizes a student with an above-average academic record in addition to having made noteworthy contributions to the professional community beyond the expectations of field experience.

“Receiving the student of the year award is more than an individual honor,” said Masresha, who was born in Ethiopia and grew up in Boston. "It's a reflection of the support, mentorship and spirit of our Bobcat community. It epitomizes our collective pursuit of excellence, social justice and the relentless desire to create a positive impact in the world. This achievement is not just about me — it's about us, a testament to Quinnipiac's dedication to fostering leaders who serve with heart and purpose.”

Prior to coming to Quinnipiac for his master’s degree, Masresha served in the Connecticut Army National Guard for more than eight years as a motor transport sergeant, army suicide prevention specialist and training non-commissioned officer. He was deployed to Afghanistan from 2012 to 2013.

Masresha has been an advocate for veterans at the state and federal levels. In 2016, the Connecticut Army National Guard awarded Masresha the NAACP Roy Wilkins Renowned Service Award and the Army Commendation Medal. He received the awards for advocating for mental health care and suicide prevention for people who are serving in the military.

Masresha also connected veterans to jobs by developing a career fair in collaboration with the city of West Haven and state representative, Charles Ferrero. As a result, 37 veterans were hired to full-time jobs.

Masresha, who will graduate in December, has already made his mark in the area of social work. He completed an internship at Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven and was asked to join their voluntary board of directors. During his internship with U.S. Senator, Christopher Murphy, he advocated for veterans and immigrants in the state of Connecticut.

He also serves on the board of the New Haven community crisis response team.

“After graduating from Quinnipiac, my main goal is to support and advocate for veterans and immigrants, as well as the community I live in, focusing on mental health, social justice and human rights,” Masresha said. “I want to give voice to their struggles, ensure their dignity and make sure no one feels alone in their challenges.”

Masresha was honored at the state chapter’s 2023 annual awards dinner on October 18 at Farmington Gardens.

“Nebiyou Masresha embodies the core values of social work, which are service, social justice, dignity and worth of persons, the importance of human relationships, integrity and competence,” said Professor Carol Awasu. “His care for those who are marginalized and his commitment to veterans is exemplary. We are indeed fortunate that he chose to continue his graduate education in social work at Quinnipiac University."

As the chair of the department of social work and director of the master of social work program at Quinnipiac, Awasu expanded her pride in presenting this honor to him.

“We are very proud of him,” said Awasu. “We know that he will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of people and bring forward significant contributions to the social work profession." 

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