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Press Releases

Monday, June 20, 2016

First Students Graduate From SU Social Work Programs in Germany

Amanda and Emesh FernandoSALISBURY, MD---Amanda Fernando was stationed at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany with her husband, Emesh, in 2014 when she learned about Salisbury University’s social work programs being offered there.

“Literally, when I signed up, we were the first wave of bachelor’s degree students, so that was pretty cool,” she said.

This spring, she also was among the initial class to successfully earn a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work or a Master of Social Work from SU, through the overseas partnership with University of Maryland University College (UMUC).

Fernando moved back stateside in January when her husband was transferred to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, so she drove just a few hours to the Eastern Shore to walk across the stage at SU’s Commencement at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in May.  Other inaugural graduates of SU’s overseas program – including two bachelor’s degree and nine master’s degree recipients – were among some 200 students who participated in UMUC Europe’s Commencement ceremony at the Gartenschau Event Hall in Kaiserslautern, Germany, in late April.

“With moving around so much, it definitely helped being able to do the program online because it’s at your own pace,” said Fernando, a native of San Diego, who served in the Air Force herself from 2006-14.  While her husband is still in active duty, she wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to assist and counsel others – and she found social work intriguing.  She said a lot military spouses, and representatives from all branches of the military, were enrolled with her.

Through SU’s program, Fernando was able to complete on-base placements, including working with an Army chaplain on observations and hand-on counseling to gain experience.  She hopes to “jump right in on” pursing a master’s degree next. 

GraduatesThe Germany ceremony, which featured celebratory performances of the national anthems of that country and the U.S., honored students from across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, including service members, their families and civilians, who had earned degrees from UMUC and its partner institutions.

In attendance was a delegation from SU, including Drs. Diane Allen, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs; Kelly Fiala, dean of the Samuel W. and Marilyn C. Seidel School of Education and Professional Studies; and Deborah Mathews, faculty in the Social Work department. 

Allen brought greetings from SU at the event.  Keynote remarks were delivered by Ambassador Marriët Schuurman, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Special Representative for Women, Peace, and Security. 

SU’s collaboration with UMUC began in 2014 after UMUC was awarded a Department of Defense contract to offer exclusive undergraduate and graduate instruction at military installations across Europe.

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“We were honored to be approached by UMUC to be part of this project and bring social work education to [those] who are serving our country abroad,” Mathews said at that time, noting the “creative instructional approaches”’ her department uses to reach students.  In addition to being offered on campus in Salisbury and in Germany, SU’s B.A.S.W. and M.S.W. are available at four satellite sites, across Maryland (Cecil College, Eastern Shore Higher Education Center at Chesapeake College, University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, and Southern Maryland Higher Education Center).  

For more details visit For more information about the University, call 410-546-6030 or visit the SU website at   

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