Sarah Hamrick ’08, ’18 MSW
Constructing meaning out of suffering: Rita Robbins ’65 knows about that. So did her daughter, Jennifer Ann McLamb Whitaker ’00, who dedicated herself to transforming lives — particularly those struggling with mental illness — as a licensed clinical social worker, therapist, and clinical supervisor. Jennifer’s empathy was authentic; she had overcome severe anorexia nervosa and experienced the agonizing process of recovery.
Robbins fought the anorexia nervosa at her daughter’s side. A last-minute trip to New York through a blizzard saved Jennifer’s life, and Robbins vowed no other North Carolina family would have to endure her desperation. Robbins worked with the North Carolina State Legislature and the UNC Department of Psychiatry to establish a facility close to home. In 2003 the UNC Center for Excellence for Eating Disorders opened its doors. Jennifer visited the center, a witness to recovery and renewal.
Ultimately, Jennifer succumbed to cancer in 2015. Her mother created the Jennifer Ann McLamb Whitaker Graduate Scholarship in The Joint Master of Social Work Program, in UNCG’s School of Health and Human Sciences, to preserve Jennifer’s signature legacy of “life, love, and light.”
As the inaugural recipient of Jennifer’s scholarship in the JMSW, Sarah Hamrick ’09, ’18 MSW wrote the next chapter in this story of love and perseverance. A non-traditional student with a family of her own, Hamrick is social activism personified.
Hamrick received the 2018 NASW-NC Presidents’ Award for Master of Social Work for her academic and leadership excellence, community commitment and professional potential to impact the field.
A UNCG Guarantee mentor, Hamrick used her English undergraduate background to help incoming graduate students with their academic writing skills, subsequently coordinating a mentoring program. As vice president and co-president of the JMSW student organization, Hamrick assisted in organizing service events and guest speakers. Her research endeavors included presenting data at the 2017 UNCG Graduate Creativity Expo, which examined culturally competent social work with Latinx families and an independent study course concerning maternal mental health. Hamrick’s community commitments included Greensboro Operation Transparency, a group that addresses community injustice, as well as service as a Guardian ad Litem in Guilford County, advocating for a family with six children.
The Jennifer Ann McLamb Whitaker Graduate Scholarship in The Joint Master of Social Work Program illuminates a compassionate and unconquerable spirit. Sarah Hamrick’s dynamic work continues to radiate Jennifer’s “life, love and light.”
Story by Zoe Dillard, Donor Relations
Endowments provide donors with opportunities to create living legacies and touch the lives of future generations.