Bridgett Rosato is a busy mother of three, a mediator for the 10-county Center for Dispute Settlement, and a volunteer with the Ontario County Jail.
She’s also an award-winning social work student in the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) at Keuka College.
The Canandaigua resident was named one of six student Social Workers of the Year at a regional chapter event for the National Association of Social Workers. The NASW award recognizes social work students in the New York State Chapter’s Genesee Valley Division who have made significant contributions in the field.
Stephanie Craig, associate professor and chair of the Division of Social Work, said Rosato “is an amazing student and person. She represents the profession very well.”
A desire to help people is what drives Rosato to work toward prevention of some of the personal experiences she went through as a child.
“I have a lot of empathy … and can now help others,” she said. “I think all my experiences in life, some by [my] choice, some not, have guided me into the person that I’ve become. Keuka has taught me this program, all parts of myself, and I think that things are coming together great.”
Rosato received an associate degree in criminal justice at Finger Lakes Community College, and opted to continue her education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work at Keuka through ASAP (FLCC is a host site for ASAP classes). She believed the two degrees would make her more marketable.
In her role as a mediator, where she has worked part-time for the past three-and-a-half years, Rosato serves the mentally ill in various ways. For example, she advocates to keep housing for the patient when a medical procedure is needed and they have no other advocate. Much of the work happens in an informal court process before a group known as the Surrogate Decision-Making Committee, Rosato said.
At the county jail, Rosato volunteers in two areas. First, she serves in the storybook program, which enables inmates to send a digital storybook to their children that will play back with the inmate’s voice reading the book aloud. And just last year, she began serving with a new pilot program, Transition Circles, which provides an opportunity for women inmates to work through a facilitated dialogue with friends and family members they selected. In conversation held around a circle, the inmate hears about her strengths, how relationships fractured by her behavior could be repaired, and what needs to be in place for a successful reentry into society, work and home life. According to Rosato, that program was started about a year ago in the county.
For the past six years, Rosato has also volunteered for FLACRA, (Finger Lakes Addictions Counseling & Referral Agency) in Clifton Springs, bringing baked goods to residents in one of FLACRA’s halfway houses during the holiday season.
Rosato will graduate at the end of this month and said her Keuka degree has provided her with “a lot of insight in different areas” and that she believes her future career will include working with youth. She plans on taking civil service exams after graduation and said she also plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work once Keuka adds that degree to its roster of options.
As for her NASW award, Rosato said it was a surprise to learn she had won, and she enjoyed receiving the award with her parents, daughter, a sister, a niece, and some friends in the audience.
“I’m kind of a perfectionist and I push myself hard,” Rosato said.