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Beach Connection: Faculty Spotlight

Nancy Meyer-Adams

Nancy Meyer-Adams
Associate Professor, Associate Director and Coordinator of Academic Programs, CSULB School of Social Work.

’97, B.S.W., Florida International University
’98, M.S.W., Florida International University
’02, Ph.D., School Social Work, University of Tennessee College of Social Work

Nancy Meyer-Adams, Ph.D., MSW is an Associate Professor, Associate Director and Coordinator of Academic Programs of the California State University, Long Beach School of Social Work. She earned her BSW (1997) and MSW (1998) degrees at Florida International University. She received her Ph.D. in social work with a specialty in school social work at The University of Tennessee College of Social Work in 2002. The focus of her dissertation research was the effects of school bullying on the culture and climate of middle schools in urban communities. Dr. Meyer-Adams joined the faculty of CSULB School of Social Work in the summer of 2005.  She has been named the Most Valuable Professor by the College of Health and Human Services Outstanding Graduate for the past four out of five years (2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012). She was awarded the College of Health and Human Services Community Service Award in 2010. Prior to joining CSULB’s faculty she taught at the University of Southern California, School of Social Work where she received the Jane Addams Faculty Award for academic, administrative and moral support for students in 2005. Her professional experience includes over ten years of direct social work practice experience with diverse family and child client populations as a school social worker, mental health professional, and researcher. She was the founding project coordinator of the Pasadena Unified School District’s School-based Mental Health Program in 2002 where she served as a consultant to the school district on bullying and school violence as well as a direct practitioner. She has also served as a school social work consultant to the Montebello Unified School District. Dr. Meyer-Adams teaches in both the graduate and undergraduate programs. She served as the School’s Undergraduate Program Director from 2007-2011 before being promoted to the Associate Director and Coordinator of Academic Programs.  She is also the Coordinator of the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) Mental Health Stipend program. In this role she provides information and research to the students who receive stipends from the California Department of Mental Health State of California Mental Health Services Act.  Her research interests include school violence, bullying, recovery paradigm mental health services and the scholarship of teaching.

Many recent alumni have named you as a faculty member who has had a great impact on their education and lives, including being named as a “Most Valuable Professor” by Outstanding Graduates multiple times.
As an educator, what does this mean to you?

As an educator I feel this is the highest honor that I can receive. In fact, one of my proudest accomplishments in my academic career is that I have received a teaching award decided on by students at all three of the universities where I have been a teacher. To be recognized by students that you have made a difference in their lives is the highest recognition one can achieve in this profession in my opinion. 

You have a fascinating story about how you got to be a professor here at CSULB. Can you tell us about that?

Well I am not sure it is about how I got to be a professor here at CSULB but maybe how I got to my Ph.D. so I could be hired here as a professor. I was the mother of two and a high school dropout at the age of 17. I made a living as a waitress and bartender for 25 years. I went back to school and earned my GED at age 37. Shortly after earning my GED in 1992 I started taking classes at Broward Community College in Fort Lauderdale, FL where I was inspired by some of the teachers I had in my classes. I was so inspired that I wanted to continue on to a 4 year university to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work. While there, I earned a full scholarship to go on to Florida International University for my BSW and then continued on to complete my Master in Social Work in an accelerated graduate program there. Again, I was inspired by many of my professors in these programs and also through the Honors College at FIU, of which I am also a graduate, so decided that I would love to be able to hopefully do the same for students one day.  I started the doctoral program at the College of Social Work at the University of Tennessee in 1998 and completed my doctorate in four years. So I went from a GED to a PhD in 10 years. I am also a first generation college student.  So that is why being recognized as someone’s most valuable professor means so much to me. I know what a difference a professor who cares about the students and loves to teach can make in a student’s life because many inspired me to keep going and to achieve an educational milestone that I never imagined I could achieve.

As a CSULB professor, what are some of your favorite memories thus far at CSULB?

 I have many favorite memories over the past 7 years involving students and alumni. I love serving as one of the faculty advisors to the Social Work Alumni Group. In this role I am able to interact with many of my former students once they have graduated and moved into their professional roles as social workers. It is always such an honor to run into an alumn who remembers something very specific from one of my classes that moved them or made them want to be a better social worker or when someone tells me that I inspired them to apply to grad school. And I love the commencement ceremonies every year!!! It is always so wonderful meeting the students’ families and watching the students’ expressions as they walk across the stage to receive their diploma and celebrate their accomplishments. I am inspired to see them accomplish their goals and to see how proud their families are of their accomplishments.  I also have many fond memories from serving in my role as faculty advisor for the CSULB Active Minds Org.chapter. One outstanding accomplishment the Active Minds chapter had last year was having the national chapter of Active Minds Org bring their Send Silence Packing display to our campus in Sept. of 2012. Here is a description of that display - Send Silence Packing is an exhibit of 1,100 backpacks representing the number of college student lives lost to suicide each year. Active Minds Inc. has collected and continues to collect backpacks and personal stories in memory or in honor of loved ones impacted by suicide. By displaying backpacks with personal stories of loved ones that put a "face" to lives lost to suicide, Send Silence Packing carries the message that preventing suicide is not just about lowering statistics, but also about saving the lives of students, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters and friends across the nation. Contributions serve as a meaningful outlet for survivors' grief as well as a powerful way to raise awareness and work towards suicide prevention.

What advice do you have for today's current students?

I guess my advice would be to take the opportunity to enjoy your time here as a student as much as you can. I know many students have to work and have families and other obligations these days while in school. I know firsthand, as a non-traditional student who worked full-time during all my academic programs, that it is hard to take time out to enjoy the process of being a student sometimes. But when you can, participate in the things you want to participate in whenever possible. Enjoy the friendships and relationships you make while you are here as you never know where those relationships will lead you. And don’t be afraid to approach the professors whose classes and teaching styles you enjoy and inspire you. The professors who served as my mentors over my 10 years in school changed my life forever and I still keep in touch with many of them. They are still around to offer advice and guidance to me when needed. I had no idea when I started my journey by earning a GED at age 37 that I would be a college professor with tenure and serve as an administrator whose job as an advisor touches many students’ lives each academic year. So always stay open to opportunities as you never know how or when they will be presented to you.

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In This Issue: Fall 2012

  • Cover Story-CSULB: Your Connection to Success
  • Cover Story - Additional Alumni Profiles
  • Volunteer Spotlight - Marilyn Yee
  • Upcoming Alumni Events-Cleopatra, Beach Mixer at the Garden, Homecoming 2012 and Capitol Steps
  • Past Event Highlights -Hill Day Reception, Beach Alumni Mixer, Big West, and the 2012 Alumni Awards Banquet

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