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First recipients of military social work scholarship named

Victoria Torres and her husband
Scholarship recipient Victoria Torres and her husband (Photo/Courtesy of Victoria Torres)

Master of Social Work students Victoria Torres and Kyra Haglund are the first recipients of the Pamela and Mark Mischel Family Endowed Scholarship, which supports students pursuing studies in military social work at the USC School of Social Work.

A $50,000 gift from Pamela and Mark Mischel, parents of Alyson Mischel MSW ’00, established the scholarship for students pursuing the school’s Military Social Work and Veteran Services subconcentration.

The Mischels decided to create the scholarship after hearing faculty and administrators for the military social work option speak about the need to help service members, veterans and their families in an effective, specialized fashion.

“We were so impressed with their dedication and professionalism, and we felt that this was such an innovative program and one that is sorely needed,” said Pamela Mischel, who serves as a member of the School of Social Work’s Board of Councilors. “We have so many veterans and families, and we owe it to them to help them for all of the sacrifices they have made for us and our country.”

Mark Mischel said his daughter, who earned her Master of Social Work at USC and also teaches at the School of Social Work, inspired him and his wife to become involved in and support the school.

“Alyson is dedicated to her profession and has broadened our knowledge of the social work field through her work as an adjunct professor at the school,” he said. “She loves teaching and wants to encourage young people to go into the field, and we felt that by creating a scholarship we, too, would be able to encourage and help students to become social workers.”

Scholarship winner Torres, co-chair of the school’s Military Social Work Caucus, said that she has had a passion for helping military families ever since marrying her spouse, a Marine Corps service member.

“Being in a military-affiliated family is completely different from a civilian way of living. It is challenging, but most important, the Marine Corps community is always supportive,” she said. “I have always thought that giving to our military families and service members is just a small token to the sacrifices they have made for our country.”

Haglund decided to focus her studies on mental health and military social work as a result of her experience with her grandfather, who was honorably discharged from the military with “combat fatigue” or what is now generally known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She is currently studying somatic experiencing, a form of therapy aimed at relieving the symptoms of PTSD by focusing on the client’s perceived body sensations.

“The sacrifice that our troops and their families make is profound,” Haglund said. “I am committed to being part of a support system dedicated to their mental health and well-being.”


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