Social Policy and Evaluation
Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, Ann Arbor
Rosemary Sarri Endowed Scholarship; Gus Harrison Scholarship in Social Work and Public Administration
That is how Hailey Richards describes her journey from Bad Axe, Michigan, on the mitten’s thumb, to the U-M School of Social Work.
Hailey began by studying Exercise Science at Saginaw Valley State University, an hour and a half southwest of home. But she might never have traveled the next ninety minutes south to Ann Arbor, had she not needed to address a pressing personal issue: depression.
A friend at Saginaw Valley had attempted suicide. “I needed to do something,” Hailey says. “I had to make a difference.” She decided to come and participate in the annual Depression on College Campuses Conference held by Michigan Medicine’s Depression Center. She soon became a regular at the conference, and in the process was exposed to several social workers, both as presenters and as attendees. “I became passionate about how you might put social work and exercise science together,” she says.
“And then I fell in love with the campus!” she enthuses. “It’s so beautiful!” She visited the School of Social Work, and she fell in love with it, too. “I liked that I could choose a practice method and concentration and really create a program for me,” she says. “I liked that everyone could be unique and choose classes in whatever they were interested in, even if their interests changed.”
Hailey applied and was accepted, and took the next step to enroll at the School she had long admired. “We have people here from so many different backgrounds,” she enthuses, “but we all want to make a difference. I have learned how to interact with different cultures and be culturally sensitive.” Her field placement at the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency in Ann Arbor turned out to be an eye-opener. “I became passionate about the criminal justice system and social justice,” Hailey says. “I had not realized mental health issues, which I had initially focused on, were so related to the criminal justice system.”
Hailey’s journey of discovery would not have been possible without scholarship support. “I come from a working class background,” she points out, “so I thought I’d have to take out loans. It’s very meaningful to receive help from the School. I’m very thankful to have two scholarships directly related to what I want to do in social work.” Hailey received a Rosemary Sarri Endowed Scholarship, named for our emerita professor, an expert in child and family welfare and the criminal justice system, and a Gus Harrison Scholarship in Social Work and Public Administration. Harrison directed the Michigan Department of Corrections for 40 years and created a more just and fair criminal justice system in Michigan.
Hailey is excited about her future. “There are so many things! I have always been interested in the mind-body connection, so I might want to create a center where I can use exercise to help people suffering from mental illnesses. And exercise could be used as medicine in prisons. I want to be instrumental in creating policies that are more affirming for people in the criminal justice system and will help improve reentry into society when they get out.”