Student Spotlight

Stempel College: Meet the Social Work Interns and Instructors Being Honored this Spring

Hard work, determination, and commitment are the qualities possessed by Social Work students and field instructors set to be honored this spring by the School of Social Work at FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work .

Each spring semester, Social Work students intern with community partners across South Florida to learn firsthand what it takes to be a valuable player in their chosen field. Joining them on this journey are field instructors—accomplished social workers themselves— who teach, mentor, and guide the students through their internships. The goal is to help students connect what they learn at school to the real world, helping them gain marketable skills to secure jobs post-graduation.

At the end of the internship, a few students and field instructors are recognized for their dedication and commitment to the program. This past school year, students Jamie Casimir, Daniela Pejcic, and Paige Carter went above and beyond, during a time of uncertainty, to utilize their skills to support those in need.

“We are so proud of what our students have accomplished in their internships, as well as the impact they made on the community. Our students have had to demonstrate a great deal of resilience as they faced interning during COVID-19,” said Jennifer Abeloff, Associate Director of the School of Social Work at Stempel College. “Their determination to continue to serve those individuals and communities most in need shows us what exceptional social workers they will be.”

Field instructors Amber Manker, Nina Thompkins, and Marlene Kastrinos were nominated by students for the positive impact they made as mentors and on their overall internship experience.

Get to know them below.


Bachelor of Science in Social Work: Student of the Year

Community Partner: Miami-Dade County CAHSD Wynwood Neighborhood CenterMiami-Dade County Community Resource Centers offer a variety of social services to economically disadvantaged individuals and families interested in achieving self-sufficiency.

Honoree: Jamie Casimir, BSSW II Intern

“She showed initiative in wanting to partake in all the job aspects from emergency evictions, to utility assistance, homeless customers, and even VITA tax services. She expressed how grateful she is for the opportunity to be a front-line soldier in her field of study,” said Ulysses Arteaga, LCSW, and nominator.

Master of Social Work: Generalist Level Student Intern of the Year

  • Community Partner: Douglas Gardens Community Mental Health CenterProvides comprehensive mental health services to people living in the Greater Miami Beach area.
  • Honoree: Daniela Pejcic, MSW I Intern
  • “Through my many professional contacts with her, Daniela has shown herself to be a person of great integrity. She has a positive personality that brings energy and inspiration to those she comes in contact with. Her thirst to learn and grow as a clinician make her a great candidate for this profession,” said Derek S. Moore, LCSW, and nominator.

Master of Social Work: Advanced Clinical Student Intern of the Year

Community Partner: Banyan Health Systems Broward Adult Residential
Banyan Health is a leading regional provider of treatment for co-occurring disorders, and have skilled crisis teams providing 24 hour a day crisis intervention and stabilization services.

Honoree: Paige Carter, MSW III Intern

“Paige conducts herself in the utmost professional manner with all clients and staff alike. Paige’s passion for social work shines through in her work with her clients. We have received great feedback from our clients regarding Paige’s groups and interactions with the clients throughout the day,” said Monica Gallino, LCSW, and nominator.


Bachelor of Science in Social Work: Field Instructor of the Year
  • Community Partner: Alliance for GLBTQ YouthThe Alliance for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth coordinates a full range of quality services through partnerships with many Miami-Dade County service organizations.
  • Honoree: Amber Manker, MSW, Registered Clinical Social Work Intern, Clinical Manager
  • “Her commitment to helping an underserved and so strongly discriminated against population as are LGBTQ students is unwavering. She continually shows up and advocates for her clients and has a real passion for helping youth of color,” said Franco Bernard Rondon, BSSW II Field Intern and nominator.
Master of Social Work: Generalist Field Instructor of the Year

Community Partner: Catalyst MiamiMission is to identify and collectively solve issues adversely affecting low-wealth communities throughout Miami-Dade County.

Honoree: Nina Thompkins, LCSW, Vice President of Program Operations

“I found in Ms. Thompkins, a supervisor who is an exemplary leader, a superb coach, and a supervisor who values my contributions and cares about my success. She has empowered me while successfully coaching me along the way,” said Margarette Mahotiere, MSW I Field Intern and nominator.

Master of Social Work: Advanced Clinical Field Instructor of the Year

Community Partner: New Horizons Community Mental Health Center, Inc.New Horizons is a nonprofit community-based agency serving a federally designated area of poverty, which began operations in Miami-Dade County in March of 1974.
Honoree: Marlene Kastrinos, PhD, LCSW, Clinical Director

“She makes the learning space a safe space and I trust that she is providing me with invaluable learning experiences. She is a mentor, an encourager, a reassurer, a very intelligent, empathic, understanding and well-rounded professional,” said Yvette Sawyers-Haughton, MSW III Field Intern and nominator.

Go here to learn more about the School of Social Work at Stempel College.