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School of Social Work Spring 2020 Commencement

This is not the graduation any of us imagined. We had been so excited to plan to honor your accomplishments and host you and your family and friends at a ceremony in the Power Center.

Instead, we now invite you to create your own unique online ceremony to share with your family and friends at a time that works for you. The Graduation Toolkit provides a menu of asynchronous options including speeches, music and campus photos as well other ideas to help you host your celebration. Don’t forget to grab a screenshot so we can share graduation photos with our SSW community.

Go Blue!
The School of Social Work Graduation Committee

Letter from the Dean

Dear Graduates,

Congratulations on your commencement! As you move into your social work career, please know that the faculty and leadership of our school are proud of your dedication, your achievements and your resiliency.

During the pandemic your lives were turned upside down. While you have endured uncertainty, loss and despair, you have also developed skills to manage adversity and uncertainty, to address rapid fire change and to help those without a voice be heard. You have lived your social work values by showing compassion, by standing up to challenge stigmas and prejudice of all kinds, by supporting and building community, and by promoting health equity.

This is not the graduation that any of us imagined. You had no time to say good-bye to your student colleagues and professors, to take a final stroll across the Diag or have your photo taken by the Block M. While we can’t celebrate face to face, know that you hold a special place in our hearts.

Spring 2020 graduates, you have earned respect, gratitude and admiration from the Michigan Social Work community and the university. You are the leaders and best, and we are confident that you are fully prepared to take on the challenges facing our world. You have demonstrated your tenacity, compassion and willingness to fight and lead to ensure better futures for every member of our local and global communities.

Stay Safe and Go Blue,

Lynn Videka
Dean and Carol T. Mowbray Collegiate Professor of Social Work


Lynn Videka Dean and Carol T. Mowbray Collegiate Professor of Social Work

Keynote by Jessie Fullenkamp, MSW '10 Education and Evaluation Director, Ruth Ellis Center

Jessie Fullenkamp is a Detroit-based social worker with over 20 years of experience working with communities facing systematic oppression.

She led the initial development and implementation of the first Medicaid-billable lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) mental health services in the state of Michigan. Fullenkamp has concentrated on and been instrumental in integrating positive youth development, harm reduction, transformative justice and trauma-informed care in the work of the Ruth Ellis Center. Since 2010, she has overseen the development of four new departments at the Ruth Ellis Center and initiating the addition of 40 new staff. These departments - Youth Leadership Programs, Behavioral Health, Family Preservation and ultimately the Ruth Ellis Institute – all contribute to ensuring LGBTQ youth are safe and supported wherever they go for services. Currently, through the Ruth Ellis Institute, she leads research embedded in direct services, training and system intervention to share on a national scale with funding from the Children’s Bureau and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Fullenkamp studied in Kumasi, Ghana and received a BSW from Xavier University and an MSW here at the University of Michigan. In 2007 to 2009 she worked on education, HIV and women's issues in the Federated States of Micronesia. In 2018 and 2019, Jessie served as the Health Ambassador for the youth program Breaking Walls in Santiago, Chile and Tangier, Morocco to support culturally specific, LGBTQ-affirming space. Her awards include the YWCA Young Women of Excellence, the Ohio BSW Student of the Year in 2007, the Xavier University Dorothy Day Medal and the University of Michigan School of Social Work Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016. Jessie lives with her family, Ben Newman and Selah Fullenkamp-Newman, in Detroit, Michigan.

Student Speaker Stephanie Marroki MSW '20

Stephanie Marroki grew up in Sterling Heights, Michigan as a first generation Chaldean Iraqi American. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies from Wayne State University. While completing her bachelor’s degree, she worked as an afterschool program facilitator and as a respite caregiver, where she learned the importance of interpersonal skills and further felt the deep need for systemic transformation. Marroki served with nonprofits, The Shlama Foundation and Help Iraq, to support positive change and provide aid for students and families in Iraq. As an MSW candidate with a concentration in Social Policy & Evaluation, she held field placement positions with both StarrVista, a juvenile justice case management agency, and with the Office of State Senator Stephanie Chang. During her time at StarrVista, Stephanie worked on a program with prospective outcomes of reducing youth recidivism, increasing education access and enhancing youth experiences within juvenile justice facilities. With the Office of State Senator Chang, Marroki was given the opportunity to work with both community members and legislation. She worked on a girls’ empowerment and leadership fellowship and assisted in criminal justice bill development, among other tasks. After graduation, Marroki hopes to work alongside communities on advocating for social policy issues. She eventually plans to run for political office, bringing her social work values and skills learned at the University of Michigan School of Social Work with her.

Student Speaker Chidimma Ozor MSW '20

Chidimma Ozor graduated with a BA in Organizational Studies and an MA in Liberal Studies from the University of Michigan. She then moved to Las Vegas due to the tough Michigan economy and lived there for nearly 10 years. In the desert, she found the healing practice of yoga and meditation. She took a yoga class in February 2007 and hated the class, six months later she took another class and fell in love. One year later, she became a certified yoga teacher. Her passion for inspiring others through their health and wellness journeys led her to work as a clinical health coach in a primary care start-up company. She worked in that role for four years and then transitioned to working part-time while working on a premedical post-baccalaureate program in Los Angeles.

The Divine redirected her to her hometown of Ann Arbor. She worked in Student Life and as a social science researcher before starting her MSW program as a MicroMasters and Global Activities Program Scholar. She is now embarking on several new journeys, including continuing educating through her consulting firm, Chidimma Ozor Consulting, podcasting at conscious + aligned with Chidimma, as well as black radical scholars, a company she began with another colleague at the School. She will also be providing therapy for Black women, Black folks, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. She dreams of one day opening up her comprehensive wellness center.

Advice to Graduates

Dillon Cathro MSW '19

Photos from the Ceremony

View the Spring 2020 commencement gallery on Flickr

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