UA Social Work Student Wins National Essay Contest
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Sean Hudson, a senior social work major at The University of Alabama, recently won the Influencing State Policy national essay award for his advocacy of the proposed Alabama state bill “Fostering Success Act.”
The award, sponsored by Statepolicy.org, is given to one bachelor’s of social work student and one master’s of social work student. Hudson received a $500 cash award and is invited to the award ceremony at the Council on Social Work Education’s Annual Program Meeting in Washington, D.C. in November.
Hudson, from Bessemer, served as a Senate page in May 2011, and, after talking with several legislators about foster youth and education attainment, he gained support, and the Foster Success Act was drafted. Hudson says his role was to research the necessary information, like how much funding would be needed and if there was a similar bill in other states.
Though the bill didn’t make it to the state Senate or the House of Representatives, Hudson lauded his experience as a page and credited his faculty sponsor, Dr. Brenda Smith, with encouraging him to enter the contest.
“When I wrote the essay, I struggled with how to frame the essay because I figured that the judges wanted something to inspire other social workers,” said Hudson. “Who wants to hear about something that failed? So, I was more in shock than anyone else when I received the letter saying that I won. It was a huge boost to me, my professors, and the School of Social Work because it showed that our school is creating the next generation of change agents dedicated to influencing social policies.”
He credits a relationship with a past social worker for helping inspire him to his current path, which includes plans to attend graduate school in the spring and later law school. Hudson, a member of the UA Honors College Emerging Scholars Program, is a former foster child who has earned numerous scholarships to help fund his college career at UA. He hopes his award-winning essay will generate awareness for the state’s foster youth.
“There is not a record of the bill ever making it into the committee meeting,” Hudson said. “In fact, most people did not know that it is an issue. Despite this, I still remain positive that the rate of foster youth attending college will increase through effective advocacy.”
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.