University of South Florida

College of Behavioral and Community Sciences


Students share research at international conference in Spain

USF students and social work faculty present at international conference

Megan Jarvis; Iraida Carrion, PhD, LCSW; Paul Muñoz; and Manisha Joshi, PhD, MPH, MSW present in Spain.

The lively city of Alicante, Spain served as both a captivating backdrop and a melting pot of cultural exploration for a recent study abroad program led by School of Social Work faculty Iraida Carrion, PhD, LCSW and Manisha Joshi, PhD, MPH, MSW. As part of this program, students participated in an interprofessional conference organized by the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Miguel Hernandez, Spain.

Alongside Carrion and Joshi, two USF students, Paul Muñoz and Megan Jarvis, presented their research titled, “Examining Social Work Practice in the U.S. and the Role of Occupational Therapy.” The presentation covered topics such as cultural competence, interdisciplinary collaboration between social workers and occupational therapists, and current research and trends in providing comprehensive care to clients. 

“This was my first experience presenting at an international conference and to a non-USF audience, so I was a bit nervous," MSW student Paul Muñoz said. "After presenting at the conference, I realized that when one talks to a crowd about a topic that they are passionate about, the nerves disappear, and presentation becomes easy and flows naturally."

In their presentation, the team spoke about the duties and obligations of social workers in the United States and elucidated the concept of cultural competence as a critical component of a multicultural professional environment. The topic generated a lot of discussion regarding whether cultural competence is a skill that needs to be developed or if it comes naturally to people due to the growing prevalence of multicultural settings.

"The workshop was very interactive, the audience was super engaged, and we had a great discussion on cultural competence and its significance in working with clients and patients," psychology student Megan Jarvis said.

The presenters used practice examples and research work to thoroughly explain their research topic to the international audience.

"This was my first ever conference, and speaking in front of people in general, and was very nerve-wracking but exciting," Jarvis said. "I will always remember this experience since it was one of a kind!"

At the end of the workshop, the group challenged the audience to recognize their own cultural beliefs and values and acknowledge their potential differences from the individuals with whom they interact.

"Respecting the different backgrounds of individuals is crucial in professional practice," Muñoz said.

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The Mission of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS) is to advance knowledge through interdisciplinary teaching, research, and service that improves the capacity of individuals, families, and diverse communities to promote productive, satisfying, healthy, and safe lives across the lifespan. CBCS envisions the college as a globally recognized leader that creates innovative solutions to complex conditions that affect the behavior and well-being of individuals, families, and diverse communities.