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Annmarie & Neil Hawkins

Investing in Our Students

Annmarie and Neil Hawkins have championed Detroit for decades as they’ve raised their family while enjoying the Detroit theater scene, the Detroit Institute of Arts and all that the Motor City has to offer. They’ve also witnessed erosion in Detroit and have a strong desire to help.

“The School of Social Work at the University of Michigan has the passion, commitment and expertise to make a difference and we wanted to lend assistance to that platform to help the people of Detroit,” Neil Hawkins said.

The Hawkins saw first-hand the benefits experienced by their daughter, Rachel Hawkins, MSW ’12, who completed her field work at Detroit agencies. “As Rachel worked through her U-M social work practicum (field work), it dawned on us that students who have limited resources may not be able to afford the travel expenses and ultimately wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn and serve in Detroit,” said Annmarie.

We like being involved with direct support and we think working in Detroit provides a one-of-a kind experience, so we came up with the idea to create a gas fund, which would support students who may not have the resources to make the daily drive to the Detroit area.

The Hawkins’ student support is doubled through the matching gift program provided by Neil’s employer, Dow Chemical Company, where he is corporate vice president and chief sustainability officer.

“We’re very impressed with the U-M School of Social Work program...the caliber of students the School attracts is simply world class.” Annmarie said. “We’re very happy to help U-M SSW attract and maintain these outstanding students and to help prepare them for their careers working with urban populations.”


Kelsi Podgorski

Student Recipient

“The scholarship changed everything for me. Through the program coursework - especially the integrated behavioral health classes - I learned about Detroit, needs of its populations and communities, and how organizations are working together to integrate and improve both physical and mental health. The more I learned, the more I realized Detroit was where I wanted to be and where I could make the greatest impact.”

The generosity of the Hawkins family makes it possible for students like me to choose a field placement that might otherwise be out of reach.

Today, Kelsi Podgorski, MSW ‘15, works as a clinical therapist for the Early Childhood and Family Services program at Development Centers in Detroit. She provides home-based therapy to new mothers, teaching them about child development, and supporting positive attachment to their babies - which is the foundation for healthy emotional and social development of children. Working with underserved populations, particularly women and children, is a job that Podgorski began training for early on as an MSW student in the Detroit Clinical Scholars Program.

Learn more about Kelsi »

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