Women of Distinction


Susana Mariscal (Right)

Susana Mariscal, Guthrie and Fitzmorris


  • Fulbright Scholar (LASPAU) – Bolivia, 2004-‘06
  • Outstanding International Woman Student, 2006
  • Clark Coan International Student Leadership Award, International Student and Scholar Services, 2008
  • Member of Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars, 2010
  • Certificate of Appreciation for long-term efforts to expedite the success of International Fulbright scholars in the United States, KU Fulbright Scholars Association, 2010
  • Vice President (2005-2006) and Advisory Board of the KU Fulbright Scholars Association, 2004-2010
  • Member of Golden Key International Honour Society, 2009
  • Goodwin Garfield Award - theory-practice integration, KU School of Social Welfare, 2005
  • Member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, 2005
  • Teaching Excellence Awards at the Catholic University of Bolivia, 2002
  • Bolivian Representative-Founder of the Latin-American Psychotherapy Federation, 2000
  • Academic Excellence Scholarship - Catholic University of Bolivia, 1997-1998

How I became interested in my field:

I have always enjoyed working with children and youth, but working with maltreated children in Bolivia made me realize the importance of fostering resilience while at the same time preventing further abuse. With this learning objective in mind, I came to the KU MSW program. In addition to the welcoming staff from the International Programs and ISSS and the support from international scholars, I found wonderful instructors, administrative staff, and fellow students, so I decided to stay and pursue my PhD here.

An honor, achievement or accomplishment that is most meaningful to me:

The Fulbright Scholarship has greatly influenced my life. When I first came to KU, I did not know much about Kansas. In addition to fulfilling my academic expectations, KU and the KU Fulbright Scholars Association [KUFSA] have taught me about the world. Since 2004, every year I have met at least 20 scholars from around the world, who have shared their experiences, music, dances, food, and culture. It always surprises me to learn about the many similarities among our cultures and I can also envision ways in which we can work together to solve our differences. Further, through the KUFSA, I have developed strong bonds with many friends and I feel that I have “my spiritual family” spread out through the world, with brothers and sisters in Indonesia, Ecuador, Vietnam, Germany, Romania, Uruguay, Brazil, Jordan, Chile, Tanzania, Venezuela, Colombia, Senegal, Peru, Pakistan, Spain, Russia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Congo, and in many more places. This experience has definitely broadened my own and my family’s horizons, questioned our biases, and shaped our worldview.

Someone who has been influential or had a significant impact on my life:

I have been blessed with many wonderful people in my life. My husband, Daniel, and my son, Joaquin, are the source of my daily strength, light, and inspiration. Their love and support nourish me and guide me through hard times. I have also found remarkable mentors at KU: Hodgie Bricke is an outstanding and supportive role model; Dennis Saleebey, Ann Weick, and Charlie Rapp are my great sources of inspiration, motivation, and support. Dennis frees my creativity, giving me permission to fly; Ann inspires my dreams, and Charlie stretches my brain and is my ground connection. I would not be at KU without them. Tom McDonald has challenged me to explore new fields which I learned to enjoy. He inspires me and constantly provides me with new learning opportunities. I am eternally grateful to all of them and to those instructors who have touched my life. Thank you Ed and Jim.

An important life lesson I have learned:

Always work hard and keep pushing yourself, even when you think that you cannot do it. You would be surprised how far you can go when you know where you are going. Find that fire in your life… the fire, the passion will give you strength and direction.

If I had a sister just entering college, I would want her to know…

She needs to find a balance between working hard and taking care of herself. She needs to find a support system, so it would be great for her to get involved in student groups. Involvement and volunteering will help her find passion in her life and keep it real. It is so much easier to study when you know why!

A favorite quote or saying and why it is meaningful to me:

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
Leo Buscaglia

I like this quote because we often forget the power that we all have in our daily interactions. If we acted as if we were not going to see the person that we have in front of us ever again, we would probably listen more attentively and be more caring in every interaction.