After considering a pool of statewide candidates, the Florida Education Fund selected, among a few others, Dr. Miriam Potocky, of the FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work to receive the William R. Jones Outstanding Mentor Award for 2016.
Dr. Potocky, a professor in the School of Social Work, is an internationally-recognized expert on refugee resettlement. She has authored over 50 publications, including the ground-breaking Best Practices for Social Work with Refugees and Immigrants (Columbia University Press). Dr. Potocky’s work on refugees has been funded by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, the International Rescue Committee, the Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services, and the Miami Foundation. Most recently, she was the principal investigator for “Project MIRACLE: Motivational Interviewing for Refugee Adaptation, Coping, and Life Enhancement,” funded by The Lois and Samuel Silberman Fund and the YWCA of Greater Toronto. Dr. Potocky teaches courses on social work with immigrants and refugees, social work with diverse populations, research methodology, practice evaluation, and quantitative data analysis.
For Dr. Potocky, research is essential; but so is teaching and mentoring. This explains why doctoral student Cherelle Carrington thought she was the perfect candidate for the William R. Jones Outstanding Mentor Award and why she wrote in the award nomination: “Dr. Potocky deserves this award because of her genuine concern for the well-being of all her students. Consistently approachable, her compassion, understanding, and calming presence quell your fears and anxieties. You feel validated by her sympathetic ear and non-judgmental attitude. Her unwavering support and sage advice have, on many occasion, renewed my confidence and provided the impetus and direction I needed to tackle seemingly insurmountable challenges. Dr. Potocky’s example of strength and determination in spite of incredible personal obstacles has been inspirational. She has helped to empower me and affirm my desire to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable people.”
As a not-for-profit corporation established in 1984, the Florida Education Fund has a statewide mission with a national impact by providing an avenue to ensure the educational advancement of minorities. The William R. Jones Award is the highest honor awarded by the organization to those who help minority students. Dr. Potocky received the award at the Annual McKnight Doctoral Fellows Conference held in Tampa mid-November.
When asked about the award, Dr. Potocky said, “I am deeply humbled by this honor. It has been my great pleasure to work with Ms. Carrington as well as all our social work doctoral students. I salute the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program for its comprehensive academic support of outstanding and deserving students such as Ms. Carrington, whose scholarship will continue to enhance the well-being of individuals and families in Florida and beyond.”