Beth and Gus Lucas have pledged $25,000 to the USC School of Social Work to fund scholarships for students in financial need.
Beth Lucas MSW ’98, a member of the school’s Board of Councilors, said that she wanted to support anyone who had a desire to help others, especially in a tough economy.
“In these changing times, we need more social workers to not only address the needs of the populations we are aware of, but also of populations we continue to become aware of,” she said. “I just want to be able to help in any way that I can.”
Lucas has helped many people in underserved populations. She received a Master of Social Work from the School of Social Work in 1998 and became an ardent advocate for at-risk youth. Lucas has dedicated her career to bettering lives through two decades of work with teens in group homes, gang members in schools, victims of domestic violence, the severely and persistently mentally ill, and children in the foster and adoption systems.
As an alumna and leader at the school, Lucas hopes this gift will help MSW students to reach their goals, no matter what area of study they choose.
“All areas of social work are important because they interlink in so many ways,” she said. “Foster children, homelessness, mental health, drug abuse, veterans with post-traumatic stress … they all can be related.”
Lucas said she is glad to support USC students, especially having recently helped hire 13 of the school’s graduates for a new homeless veterans program at People Assisting the Homeless, a network of social service agencies whose goal is to end homelessness.
She said she was impressed by the professionalism and knowledge of these candidates, who were able to walk into the job and perform immediately because the education and field experience they received at USC was incomparable.
“Because they had been trained by USC’s military social work and community organization, planning and administration programs, they were familiar with the issues and needs of the homeless veteran population and were acutely aware of policies and entitlements for this population,” she said. “As an alumna of the program, it made me proud to see the type of social workers we are sending out into the community. It is evident the USC faculty and administration are right on target in providing the best education and field experience, creating not only educated and prepared social workers, but social workers who will undoubtedly be leaders in their field.
“I am proud to say I graduated from this program,” she said.
Lucas, who is also involved in the USC Alumni Association and the School of Social Work Alumni Association, said that one of her goals when she joined the Board of Councilors was to encourage other alumni to support the school, and she hopes this latest gift will help do just that.
“Whether it’s monetary, participating in events, sharing your experiences or hiring graduates, it’s important for alumni to support their school and give back,” she said.