New faces in the practicum office: Introducing Samar Hossain, Matthew Cho, Alexandra Sparaggis, and Leah PotashCategories: Staff
The Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work is thrilled to welcome new members to the Practicum Office: Samar Hossain, Matthew Cho and Alexandra Sparaggis.
Samar Hossain, Practicum Coordinator
As one of FIFSW’s new practicum coordinators, Samar Hossain is now working to research new high-quality practicum opportunities for students. She will also help support both students and field instructors as a point of contact for general inquiries and concerns. Her role includes facilitating practicum orientation and conducting site visits as well.
A graduate of FIFSW’s Master of Social Work program, Samar remembers what it was like navigating practicum as a student. “I am excited to give back to the FIFSW community the support and encouragement I received from educators, students, and external partners during my studies,” she says. “I am also excited to be working alongside a community that is committed to promoting Equity, Diversity & Inclusion principles in its learning and workplace environments.”
Since graduating from FIFSW, Samar worked for three years as a Field Education Coordinator for BSW and MSW students at York University. Prior to that, she was a Community Advisor at McMaster University, supporting students in residence with their emotional, social, and academic transitional needs. She also spent several years engaged in mentorship, program design, and program delivery at YWCA Toronto Girls’ Centre.
“I’m looking forward to building collaborative relationships and conflict resolution skills alongside practicum students and their Field Instructors in the Faculty Field Liaison aspect of the role,” says Samar.
Matthew Cho, Practicum Assistant
For the past two years, Matthew Cho, who joins FIFSW as a new practicum assistant, has been working in post-secondary student services supporting admissions, financial aid, and advising as a Student Services Officer. The Master of Social Work graduate has also held various roles in the social services sector providing case management and supporting diverse populations of youth with employment counselling and life skills development.
As a Practicum Assistant, Matthew will serve as a resource to students and stakeholders by providing detailed information on program related requirements, procedures and policies. He will also help coordinate projects, initiatives, meetings, and agendas.
Matthew is most looking forward to being able to support practicums that enable FIFSW students to develop their professional practice skills for the field. “I am grateful and excited to be in an environment that cultivates future practitioners,” says Matthew. “Knowing the importance of practicums for one’s personal and professional development, I am excited by the potential to assist students in their learning and growth in the field of Social Work.”
Alexandra Sparaggis, Practicum Coordinator
Samar and Matthew join Alexandra Sparaggis, whose role as a Practicum Coordinator was made permanent in August. Alexandra graduated from FIFSW’s two-year Master of Social Work program in 2015 and is passionate about education and the wellbeing of students.
Prior to pursuing her Masters, she spent six years as a secondary school teacher and guidance counsellor. She also worked as an Academic Affairs Coordinator at a Toronto Hospital. These days she is also a mom of three beautiful boys.
“I had an amazing practicum experience and continue to network with my previous field instructor,” says Alexandra. “This was my motivating factor for wanting to work at FIFSW to help other students get the most out of their learning journey.”
Leah Potash, Interim Practicum Coordinator
Many students and field instructors will have already met Leah Potash, who has been working in the role of Interim Practicum Coordinator and will continue in this position in the 2023 winter semester.
Leah graduated from FIFSW’s MSW program in 2007 specializing in Health and Mental Health. “My passion for working with students at the post-secondary level started during my own Year 2 practicum at York University’s Student Counselling, Health & Wellbeing department,” Leah says.
She worked in the children’s mental health sector before returning to U of T to do a Bachelor of Education in primary junior education and was a teacher before taking a career break to care for her children who are now 6 and 9 years old.
Leah currently supports students in navigating all aspects of their practicum experience. She also engages social workers in the community to secure diverse practicum opportunities.
“I am committed to ensuring that practicums are accessible for students with disabilities,” says Leah who recently completed a short contract as an Interim On–Location Accessibility Advisor with U of T’s Accessibility Services. “The most meaningful part of my job is working with students one–on–one to ensure that their accommodation plans are properly implemented in their practicums.”