University of Michigan
825 N. University Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI, 48109
The School of Social Work Centennial Commencement for Master of Social Work students will be held in-person. No tickets are required to attend commencement. A reception will be held at the School of Social Work immediately following commencement.
The SSW Commencement will be livestreamed on this page and on the frontpage of the U-M School of Social Work website.
Congratulations! You and fellow graduates of the Centennial Graduating Class of Winter 2021 earned your social work degrees under arduous conditions and at a historic time. As you move into your social work career, know that the faculty and leadership of our School are proud of your dedication, your achievements and your resiliency.
During these last two year, your lives have been changed in ways we could have never imagined. You lived through the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and a societal reawakening to racial injustice. You developed skills to manage adversity and lead social change. You lived your social work values by showing compassion, by standing up to challenge stigmas, prejudice and inequity, by supporting and building community, and by promoting health equality.
Today, we are delighted to celebrate your graduation in person, and are grateful for this opportunity to gather as a community to celebrate your achievements. You are among the first graduates of Michigan Social Work’s second century, and through your resilience and tenacity, you have proven that you are fully prepared to take on the challenges of today and of our new, quickly changing future.
Graduates, you are the leaders and best. You are effective, practiced professionals and leaders who know how to take a stand, address injustice and engage the community. On behalf of the faculty and staff of the School of Social Work, I wish you every success as you reach out, raise hope and change society.
Dean and Carol T. Mowbray Collegiate Professor of Social Work
Carol A. Goss is a 2014 fellow in the Advanced Leadership Initiative program at Harvard University. Prior to joining Harvard, Goss served as president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation, a private independent foundation whose mission is to improve the lives of children in metropolitan Detroit by strengthening their schools and neighborhoods. She is the President and Founder of Warrior Women Against Poverty, a movement of African American Women providing support to our most vulnerable children and families.
Involved in philanthropy for the past 20 years, Goss joined The Skillman Foundation in March 1998 as a senior program officer. She was named president and CEO of the foundation in 2004. She has also worked as a program officer at the Stuart Foundation in San Francisco and as program director at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. Goss was named the 2007 James A. Joseph Lecturer by the Association of Black Foundation Executives. Crain’s Detroit Business cited her as one of Southeast Michigan’s Most Influential Women, an honor that the respected weekly bestows every five years to the region’s most dynamic and powerful women.
Goss' professional career also includes nearly 20 years' experience in child welfare, family services and youth development in Detroit and Oakland, California. A native Detroiter, Goss has a BA in sociology and an MSW from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She retired from The Skillman Foundation at the end of 2013.
In 2011, Goss won City Year Detroit's "Idealist in Action" award and Olivet College's Leadership in Individual and Social Responsibility Award. The Detroit News named Goss a 2010 Michiganian of the Year, and in 2009, Grantmakers for Children, Youth & Families honored her with the 2009 Fred Rogers Leadership Award. In 2008, Goss was selected as the Eleanor Josaitis "Unsung Hero" recipient as part of the Shining Light Awards. The Shining Light Awards, launched in 2007 and sponsored by the Detroit Free Press and Metropolitan Affairs Coalition, "honor individuals who are making important contributions to regional cooperation, progress and understanding in metropolitan Detroit."
Goss currently serves on the boards of BoardSource Inc, in Washington DC, Safe Routes Partnership, Detroit Children’s Fund, the Greenlight Fund, COTS, Planned Parenthood of Michigan
Katie Cox (she/her) grew up in Morenci, Michigan. She served on her local city council for three years and attended Jackson Community College, eventually transferring to and graduating from Eastern Michigan University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Social Work. During her undergraduate studies, she developed a passion for social justice and had the privilege of working with Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, a union that advocates for public assistance recipients and low-income people. She also served as the co-president for the EMU chapter of Social Welfare Action Alliance.
After graduating from Eastern, Cox worked as an outreach coordinator at WISE, an agency that supports survivors of interpersonal violence. Her love of community work brought her to the University of Michigan to pursue an MSW. During her time at the School of Social Work, she was elected to the Student Union as ombudsperson, which allowed her to serve and advocate for her colleagues. An internship with the Lecturers’ Employee Organization gave her the skills needed to organize workers and build solidarity across many disciplines.
Upon graduation, Cox hopes to work in municipal government or the labor movement. She also hopes to advocate for fairer labor practices within the field of social work.
Christian Smith (he/him) graduated from Michigan State University in 2010 with a degree in psychology and biology, and with cognitive science and environmental foci. He has since been intensively involved in community organizing and worked with environmental non-profits and starting up organizations in time banking, mutual aid, sustainable systems and local community initiatives. He eventually “landed” in farmland and open space preservation for five years, coordinating county programs that helped landowners and local governments permanently protect their most important lands.
Smith is co-founder of Sylvan’s NeighborWood, a sustainable community and farm that demonstrates the best practices in regenerative development, energy and agriculture. After 10 years of work, the community is coming to fruition in Chelsea, Michigan. He plans to help other groups develop sustainable, intentional or agricultural communities.
Smith sees the MSW program and his internship — working with clients at Community Mental Health — as an honor and a privilege. He finds psychotherapy incredibly meaningful and complementary work to cultivating intentional communities. Post-graduation, he looks forward to working with Michigan Progressive Health as a Ketamine Assisted Therapist, helping clients with treatment-resistant depression and other mental health challenges. Simply put, Smith’s vocation is working with individuals and communities for the deep and sustainable healing of both people and planet.
Congratulations on your graduation from the University of Michigan School of Social Work! As the newest graduating class of U-M School of Social Work, we welcome you to our robust community of over 18,000 alumni who span the world.
For 100 years, Michigan Social Work Alumni have made a profound impact around the globe leading social justice efforts. Soon, you will join the ranks of those who make an impact on important social policies, in communities, and in the lives of individuals.
As an example of the exceptional work our alumni are doing in the world, we invite you to read about the 2021 Distinguished Alumni. Someday, we hope to recognize you for your contributions as a social work leader in your field and as an accomplished alum of the School.
The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes School of Social Work alumni whose achievements exemplify the values of the School of Social Work and who have made an exceptional impact on the profession, the community and/or Social Work education. Click here to learn more about the 2021 Centennial Distinguished Alumni.
University of Michigan
School of Social Work
1080 South University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106