Two UMD graduate Social Work students, Amanda Borling and Tamara Miskovic, were named co-winners of the "Minnesota National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Masters of Social Work (MSW) Student of the Year Award". Tamara and Amanda formally received the honor during a noon luncheon at the Minnesota NASW Annual Conference in St. Paul on June 4th.
Among Amanda's many accomplishments were coordinating a student-neighborhood effort in painting over graffiti, picking up trash, and helping plan a community garden in one of the city's lower income neighborhoods. Mayor Don Ness said "Amanda's leadership and sense of civic involvement made her an excellent candidate for [the MN NASW MSW Student of the Year] award."
Amanda also led student funding efforts for Life House, a local agency providing essential services for homeless and at-risk youth. The money that she generated was critical in maintaining Life House services due to a financial crisis the organization was facing. One of her instructors described Amanda as "the person to go to when one wants to get students involved in organizing because she is someone you can depend on to get it done and get it done effectively."
Tamara entered the UMD Social Work program in the fall of 2007 shortly after arriving from her homeland of Bosnia, bringing with her considerable experience from her work with Bosnian youth. She grew up in Bosnia at a time when it was divided by war, and she experienced the violence and destruction caused by ethnic cleansing of groups of people based on differences in religion and ethnicity. This experience made her passionate about working to build bridges and reconcile groups who had previously been locked in bitter battles based on fear and ideological differences.
While serving as a UMD Social Work Graduate Assistant, she helped connect UMD MSW students with community-based, multi-cultural experiences designed to increase professional cultural competence. Tamara also was a student representative on the UMD Diversity Commission and was active in the UMD International Student Association. She organized a peer mentoring program at UMD for incoming international graduate students from a wide range of disciplines.