Social Work Students Lead Graduate Student Government

January 8, 2013
by Cursta McCullom
Yael Adef. Photo by Arielle Gillman.

For the first time in the USC School of Social Work’s history, the president and vice president of the university’s Graduate Student Government are students pursuing a master’s degree in social work.

Yael Adef, president, and Kevin Anderson, vice president, were elected earlier this year as heads of GSG, the official voice of USC’s graduate schools and professional programs. The student-led organization is composed of more than 100 members who work to represent and benefit the university’s graduate students through community service, social events and academic opportunities.

Both Adef and Anderson gained leadership experience within GSG as senators for the School of Social Work and other committees within the organization. Last year, Adef served on the Social Committee and was elected director of social programming. Anderson was involved in the Alumni Relations Committee, coordinating a panel on student health issues, and the Community Service Committee, where he organized an anti-hunger campaign.

Through their leadership, Adef and Anderson intend to create unification and foster community among the different graduate schools by encouraging program collaboration and social events.

“The skills and the training I’ve received at the School of Social Work have prepared me to be a good communicator who values the diversity of a team,” Anderson said.  “Also, the clinical and macro training prepared me to work with people and be in touch with their different needs, stresses and demands.”

As vice president, Anderson is the chief of staff, which involves overseeing programs within GSG and ensuring the office runs smoothly. This year Anderson has taken a heightened interest in the Judiciary Committee that monitors legislative issues, such as research funds and student debt, and he hopes to improve its productivity. 

Adef’s presidential responsibilities involve running committee meetings, supervising long-term projects and connecting with USC administrators. She regularly meets with USC deans and department heads to work on ways for graduate students to make themselves a larger presence on campus. During her yearlong term as president, Adef also intends to double the TAP Card Program, which provides graduate students with a discounted Metro card to ease the cost of transportation.

Through the principles she has learned from the School of Social Work, Adef said she has been able to define herself as a leader.

“Being at the School of Social Work has allowed me to be very open to ideas and develop my style of leadership in which I want to empower those I work with,” Adef said. “The policy skills I gained in my first year gave me a much better understanding of having a larger perspective. I’m learning constantly through my classes how my role as GSG president fits into the big picture that is USC.”

Joshua Watson, director of student affairs at the School of Social Work, said that both Adef and Anderson have demonstrated strong ability by taking on leadership roles in the school’s Student Organization and caucuses.

“I have witnessed in each of these students the ability to communicate effectively, connect well with others and positively transform the groups with which they belong,” he said. “Now they are forging relationships with stakeholders throughout the university community, bolstering the impact of the Graduate Student Government. They are outstanding representatives of the School of Social Work.”

Kevin Anderson. Photo by Rachel Petoyan.