People of the U: Shukundala "Connie" ChampionPublished on Monday, September 20, 2021By: Annie Oeth, email@example.comA liaison between family and caregivers and a link to outpatient care, Shukundala “Connie” Champion was honored with a Community Hope Award from Canopy Children’s Solutions for her work in Children’s of Mississippi’s inpatient psychiatric unit.The licensed clinical social worker, surrounded by a growing collection of Hello Kitty stuffed animals and photos of friends and coworkers in her office, is an island of calm for patients, their families and psychiatric caregivers.“Part of our job as social workers is crisis management,” she said. “Our role is to assist families during crisis and help patients get the care that they need. The goal is for patients to be able to go home, receive outpatient care and live a full and healthy life. It is hard work, but it’s rewarding.”Finding care for patients can be a challenge, she said. “As a state, Mississippi has limited outpatient mental health services, and very few board-certified child psychiatrists. I am so thankful that we have the Center for Advancement of Youth to help care for many of these patients.”A key part of the ongoing care is the support system a patient has, she said. “Children need a consistent support system. Simple things - such a family’s ability to drive to appointments - can determine how well care goes. For the best care outcomes, we have to have the parents and grandparents on board.”Champion earned her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Jackson State University and Master of Social Work degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is now working toward a Doctor of Social Work degree from Walden University.While much of her day involves clinical care, Champion is also invested in the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s educational mission, sharing her expertise with undergraduate and graduate students as a preceptor during field instruction.“It is awesome to work with students and watch them grow,” she said.Champion said she’s grateful for Canopy’s Community Hope Award, given quarterly to recognize those who provide hope to Mississippi children and families.“At UMMC and Children’s of Mississippi, we go above and beyond for our patients and their families,” she said. “We do what we have to do daily, but it is wonderful when others notice.”Every institution is rich with personal stories. We want to know ours.Do you know a student, staff, volunteer or faculty member at the University of Mississippi Medical Center whose story would make an interesting feature or deserves to be recognized?Know someone who you think more people should know about because of his or her commitment to his or her job and/or the people he or she works with or for? Who has a fascinating hobby? Who participates in a remarkable group? Who has accomplished something amazing?We want to learn more about each individual who makes up our extraordinary UMMC Family, and we want to share what makes each person unique and special in the Front and Center section of our dynamic new UMMC Intranet.To nominate someone to be considered for a Front and Center feature, just complete and submit this short form. If that person is picked for a feature, a member of the Communications and Marketing staff will contact him or her to learn more about his or her personal story.Soon, the rest of the Medical Center will know why your nominee is an outstanding reminder of what makes this place so special – the Front and Center.