Erin Scott

After her six-year-old son Zackary died as the result of a rare form of cancer, Erin Scott became a champion for children with cancer and their families. Through volunteer and paid executive positions, she has been tireless in addressing the needs of these families. For her achievements, she was awarded RIC’s Anthony E. Ricci Social Work Practice Award.

It’s an odd twist of fate, she remarked, looking back at her life. “If it wasn’t for losing my own child to cancer, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Right now, my son would have been graduating from college. Instead I will be walking across the stage to receive a diploma in a field of study I would not have entered had he not died. It is a very painful process to watch your child die. He taught me to never waste my suffering. What I carry with me, through him, is the knowledge that I can make it through any adversity. I tell people that I am a survivor of childhood cancer. I didn’t have cancer, but I survived it, and because of that, I have greater empathy for families who are going through this traumatic illness. My goal is to make the experience more bearable for the next group of families.”

Scott is a founding member of Gold Ribbons for Childhood Cancer Awareness, which has a nation-wide website providing support for families. At the Izzy Foundation, which supports families and their children being treated at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Scott develops programming, recruits volunteers and engages in fundraising.

“The B.S.W. program at RIC gave me more confidence in my role as an advocate,” she said. “I can see now how my prior activities have always aligned with the practice of social work. Social workers foresee what your needs are and help you meet those needs. They listen and help you sort through your pain. If cancer treatment ends in bereavement, social workers continue to support you with bereavement counseling. A social worker has an ongoing, seamless relationship with families. The B.S.W. program has been a perfect fit for my personal and professional goals.”

The B.S.W. program also made Scott “hungry to learn more.” Upon graduating from RIC, she will re-enroll in RIC’s advanced standing M.S.W. program, which will allow her to become a licensed clinical social worker.