The stress of attending college during the pandemic and the national upheaval over racial injustice made for a heavy final year for Jaz’Myne Ware as a Bachelor of Science of Social Work student at Spalding University.
But Ware and her classmates persevered, celebrating the completion of their degree at Commencement on Saturday, June 5.
“All the hard work has paid off,” she said. “It’s been a lot of work.”
Through the struggle, Ware learned about herself and her desire to advocate for social change. She established herself as an exemplary student and student leader, and she was recognized at Commencement as the recipient of one of the university’s two highest undergraduate honors – the Mother Catherine Spalding Service Learning Award.
“I really just support the belief that everyone deserves the right to happiness and dignity of self, no matter their nationality or gender identity or race or where they’re from,” Ware said. Over the past year, “I learned this is where I need to be. This is what I’m meant to do.”
During her undergraduate career, Ware was a seven-time Dean’s List selection who was praised by faculty and staff for her intellect, contributions to class discourse and involvement in campus organizations and activities. Additionally, she proudly became a participant in the demonstrations for racial justice that took place in downtown Louisville last year.
She said the fact that the protests often took place near Spalding’s campus was an “eye-opener,” especially as a social work student.
“When everything first happened last year, I kind of felt a calling to protest,” Ware said. “Instead of ignoring that – I was very nervous and anxious because it was my first time protesting – I took that big leap. That kind of opened me up a little bit because I’d seen how a community can come together. Seeing that power and feeling that energy really kind of fueled me and my social work side. I was like, ‘OK, people care. It’s just a matter of getting people out there.’”
*Home page for info and links to ceremony replays and programs
*Bios of all university award winners
*Read President McClure’s Commencement address and top 10 list
*Tons of photos on Spalding’s Commencement Facebook album
*Graduate features and Q&As
Spalding has truly been home to Ware, who has lived in the residence halls year-round for four years. She excelled as a work-study in the Spalding Library, and she was a leader in Spalding’s Sexuality and Gender Acceptance student organization, among other leadership positions on campus.
Ware’s social work practicum at Family Scholar House, which supports single parents who are pursuing their educational and career goals, was so successful that it landed her a job with the organization as a case management specialist.
Ware plans to remain at Spalding through next year as a student in the Master of Social Work program. After gaining the one-on-one client experience at Family Scholar House, Ware said she would like to placed in a macro-level practicum in her master’s program.
Ware eventually hopes to work in development of low-income communities of color. She also wants to educate young people about the profession of social work and spread awareness about the need for more social workers as a way to bring about positive social change.
“At the heart of being a social worker is seeing problems, and one of my (CliftonStrengths themes) is restorative, so I see problems and want to fix them,” she said.
Ware said Commencement felt even more meaningful than usual this year because of what her BSSW cohort went through, including successfully adapting to three semesters of fully online classes. Tragically, her Class of 2021 was traumatized by the death of a classmate last year.
She was elected by her classmates to speak at Commencement on behalf of their cohort.
She said she was “really excited to show appreciation for everyone that, ‘You went through this, you got through this, and you’ll be OK.'”