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Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work
Laurier social work student wins inaugural Hilary M. Weston Scholarship
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For Laurier Masters of Social Work student Bharati Sethi, being named one of the first recipients of the Ontario government’s Hilary M. Weston Scholarship means more than recognition and financial reward.
It also means she is one step closer to her goal. “It is my lifelong dream to attain a PhD and someday teach at a university,” says Sethi, who came to Canada from India in 1994 as a 19-year-old student. “I never gave up, even when I cleaned houses and worked for years as a waitress bound by my immigration status.”
Sethi, who became a Canadian citizen earlier this month, was one of two Ontario graduate social work students recognized by the provincial government for her commitment to mental health issues. The $7,500 reward will help Sethi complete her MSW research.
“It means a great deal to the Faculty and to Laurier as this award recognizes the importance of mental health issues in the social work curriculum,” says Lesley Cooper, Dean of Social Work. “Bharati is committed to the improvement of mental health in her community and in her practice and we are honoured by the integrity and value that she brings to the program.”
Sethi’s research, “Let’s Talk: newcomers settlement and integration,” is a community-based participatory project aimed at exploring immigrant supports that are available and needed in Brantford and Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk counties. She is conducting her research in collaboration with Immigrant Settlement Transition Employment and Partnership (ISTEP), of which Sethi is a founding member.
Through her study, Sethi shows that although immigrants are healthy upon entry to Canada, after a few years their mental and physical health suffers.
“In my own personal and professional experience, immigrant women put the needs of their family first,” says Sethi. “The husband finds a job and children go to school. The women are left home, alone. Their social isolation puts them at a greater risk of depression, and it is a loss to our economy when we don’t utilize their skills.”
In addition to her research, Sethi’s volunteer experience includes collecting data and proposals on immigrants and mental health and immigrants and job status in Canada.
After she completes her second year of her MSW, Sethi, who graduated from Laurier Brantford with a BA in Community Psychology, hopes to enter a PhD program and study immigrant women and mental health.
The Hilary M. Weston Scholarship was created to commemorate Weston’s term as Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 1997 to 2002. The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, will present the award at Queen's Park on July 23.
Lori Chalmers Morrison