MicroMasters student and returned Peace Corps volunteer Shannon Lynn Carter has received a Weiser Emerging Democracies Fellowship for Incoming Graduate Students. Emerging Democracies Fellowships are awarded to exceptional incoming graduate students who focus their work on emerging democracies, past or present.
“It aligned with everything I had done as Youth Development Volunteer serving in Ukraine. I went into the Peace Corps knowing I wanted to develop as a person. I knew I had to go through something very difficult. I did not expect that, in the process, I would receive the Weiser Fellowship. I am extremely grateful now to be working for causes greater than I could have ever imagined and doing something that I feel is so meaningful. And I am grateful to be completing my second master's at the U-M School of Social Work.”
Carter served in Ukraine from September 2017 to when she was evacuated in March 2020 due to Covid-19. From Flint, Michigan, she took advantage of the statewide lockdown to complete our online MicroMasters program in under 12 weeks and deferred until she completed her first master's in Project Management at the Peace Studies and International Development Center at the University of Bradford Rotary Peace Center, England. She will start her MSW on campus in the fall with the intention of returning to Ukraine post-war.
“What's happening in Ukraine is horrific,” she says. “My Ukrainian friends live-stream it. They don't know if they're going to make it the next day. Paired with my Cyrillic linguistic skills and graduate-level credentials of social work and project management, I will be equipped with the tools to return to Ukraine and continue building on the democratic ideology that had originally inspired the creation of the U.S Peace Corps in the 1960s.”
Apart from receiving the Weiser Emerging Democracies Fellowship, Carter has also received the Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship, Rotary Peace Fellowship, and the Bill Huntly Fellowship.
The Association of Black Social Work Students (ABSWS) has received the Michigan Difference Professional Organization of the Year Award.
“ABSWS has an ongoing presence at the University of Michigan and to continue the legacy, it is critical that their accomplishments be recognized,” said Clinical Assistant Professor Daicia Price. “ABSWS has been an integral part of preparing for new accreditation requirements that involve anti-racism and social justice as a necessary part of the graduate curriculum. One of the amazing things about this group is that they have been using the curriculum and professional competencies to engage in and implement their strategic plan. They have been intentional about building collaborative networks and been creative and innovative about ways to combine the professional and social experience of social workers.”
The current ABSWS officers include:
Brittney Barros, dual MSW and MPP student, will brief Congress this week on the Protecting Sibling Relationships in Foster Care Act, legislation which Barros developed as a 2018 intern with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Barros speaks this Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 1 PM. Register to watch the livestream of the briefing.
While current federal law requires states to make a reasonable effort to place siblings together in the foster care system, a majority of siblings are separated. This bill would authorize the Department of Health & Human Services to establish a pilot program to develop foster care programs designed specifically for sibling groups with large numbers, wide age ranges and complex needs.
"Sibling bonds are truly one of a kind. They entail some of the darkest secrets and impeccable loving memories, share valuable life lessons and are the longest-lasting relationships of a lifetime," said Barros. "Siblings bleed the same blood together, cry the same tears together, and fulfill life's destiny together. They are each other's best friends, shoulders to cry on and truly shape life's adversities and achievements. Foster youth deserve this one-of-a-kind bond which should not be taken by a broken system."
Barros speaks from her own lived experience: she was separated from her siblings for more than six years. During her internship with the CCAI, Barros worked on policy reports. "One of my recommendations about keeping siblings together was copied right into the language of the bill," she said. "I took my trials and trauma and turned it into testimony."
"Siblings are the longest relationship of a lifetime and, as social workers, we talk about the importance of human relationships. Those are core values in our [National Association of Social Workers] Code of Ethics and they are core values of mine."
Barros has a BSW from Eastern Michigan University and is pursuing a joint MSW and MPP at the University of Michigan. "I really wanted to go into social work specifically because I had a foster care worker that didn't treat me well. She did everything that we learn in social work school not to do, and she actually fueled my fire to be a social worker, and be the social worker that I never got to have."
MSW Student Stacey Stevens has received a summer research grant from U-M’s Anti-Racism Collaborative for her community-based research project, 48208 Lives. Stevens created the project in partnership with Yusef Bunchy Shakur, MSW ‘19, who is the director of the Mama Akua Community House in Detroit, Zone 8, and Pedro Coracides, an MSW student at Wayne State University.
The project focuses on Zone 8, a predominantly Black neighborhood in Detroit, which takes its name from its zip code. Zone 8 experiences many of the inequalities that ravaged all of Detroit in the past decades — unemployment, addiction, persistent poverty, lack of affordable housing — in hyper-focused ways. The high percentage of both empty apartments and rental properties make it difficult to foster a sense of community. Despite these many challenges, residents have fostered a sense of community out of survival. Many critical institutions, including local schools and grocery stores, have closed, which has made this community more vulnerable socially, politically and economically.
“This is a neighborhood that is under constant attack from gentrification from outsiders,” said Stevens. “It is only now with its proximity to Midtown and Downtown Detroit, that this neighborhood is being ‘valued’ and recolonized.”
According to project documentation, 48208 Lives seeks to “connect, develop and nurture emergent leadership from Zone 8 to create a racially and socially just vision for a revitalized Detroit without displacement or continued disinvestment.” To do this, the project will develop an asset map, marking all the human resources available to residents. “We are hopeful that this project will lay a foundation for neighborhood residents to support their visions for a vibrant community,” said Stevens.
“One of the things I have learned thus far in our planning is how there is no one-size-fits-all approach to doing this work. I live about two miles away from the neighborhood we are working in. There is such a drastic difference in how my community looks and the resources most folks in my community have compared to Zone 8,” said Coracides. “I think that is the one thing I hope to learn through this work: what does it look like to replicate this work in different communities around Metro Detroit in light of the unique needs and resources available to each community?”
“The support will allow us to navigate some of the challenges on the ground and to meet our goal by connecting us with residents and positioning us to amplify their voices,” said Shakur. “As a graduate of the School of Social Work, this opportunity to work with like-valued people is inspiring. Developing a research framework that is resident-driven and working professionally in a team capacity doesn’t necessarily happen post graduation.”
Summer graduation will be held in person at Hill Auditorium with a livestream for those who can not attend. Family, friends, classmates and guests who are fully vaccinated may exempt from wearing a mask indoors by completing the ResponsiBLUE Guest daily screening process and voluntarily answering the applicable questions about vaccination status. The student speaker is LeDeanea Williams, MSW ‘21 and the keynote speaker is Kathy Tran, MSW ‘03 and Virginia House of Delegates Member, 42nd District. Details will be sent to graduates this week and will be posted on the SSW calendar.
I hope everyone is feeling excited for the beginning of a new semester, or for the beginning of a summer break!
[TW: transphobia, anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments]
This email comes with great sadness because as of last week, 2021 officially became the worst year in recent history for anti-LGBTQ bills that have been passed into law according to the Human Rights Campaign. As the Queer Advocacy Coalition, we wanted to send out some information about some of the bills being considered that could be signed into law at any moment, and offer advocacy opportunities and resources for you all to voice opposition to this harmful legislation. (Linked here is an email template that can easily be edited for multiple communications.)
Arkansas has two bills sitting on the desk of Governor Hutchinson right now. Senate Bill (SB) 389 will undermine access to sex education, and Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 14 would allow discrimination under the guise of religious refusal. Contact Governor Hutchinson by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (501) 682-2345 to voice opposition to these bills.
Florida has three bills waiting for Governor DeSantis to sign into law at any time. SB 1028 is an education bill that includes an anti-trans sports ban. House Bill (HB) 545 is an anti-LGBTQ sexual educaiton bill, and HB 241 is along the exact same lines. Contact Governor DeSantis by email at GovernorRon.Desantis@eog.myflorida.com or by phone at (850) 488-7146.
Tennessee has three bills awaiting a signature from Governor Lee. HB 1233 is an anti-trans bathroom bill for schools, HB 1182 is an anti-trans bathroom bill targeting businesses, and HB1027 will regulate medical care for trans youth. Contact Governor Lee by phone at (615) 741-2001.
To follow more imminent bills standing in state legislatures in states, visit and follow Human Rights Campaign for weekly updates. An additional resource to stay up to date on the anti-transgender legislation in other states can be found at the following link: Legislative Tracker: Anti-Transgender Legislation.
Finally, if you or a loved one are in need of resources, several are included below:
On April 9, five MSW students, Sofie Aaron, Amy Belfer, Flavio Di Stefano, Hannah Lefton and Callie Torkelson, showcased Designing Access, a resource they created to promote the creation of events that are inclusive and welcoming to all. Their design was part of the Envisioning an Anti-Racist World Challenge, in partnership with the U-M Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Designing Access was one of seven presentations at the virtual showcase. Participants were able to create an avatar and enter virtual rooms to experience the presentations. The team was awarded $1,000 in recognition of their innovative approach to creating a future world that is anti-racist.
The team was initially brought together by Clinical Assistant Professor Katie Doyle. The original project idea started as a class project with the insight that someone developing an event could use the DEI Checklist as a tool for ensuring that any event was fully accessible. The website takes users through the entire event planning process and provides resources for them, right on the website, to help them tackle the relevant planning questions.
Hannah Lefton, a Designing Access team member, remarked, “A big challenge of using technology to increase accessibility is that technology is not always accessible. There are a lot of pitfalls one can hit when trying to make a website (or any technology) accessible. But, our team also thinks technology can be used intentionally to make resources much more accessible. It's just a matter of putting in the time and effort to make it that way. As social work students, the Designing Access team was happy to put in that time and energy, because we know that creating more accessible spaces is an important goal.”
The team worked hard to create an online toolkit that can be used by anyone. They hope it will become a resource for event planners, teachers, administrators, nonprofits, small businesses, for-profit enterprises and even individuals who are interested in making casual social gatherings more accessible.
Congratulations to Leslie Akua Asah Tetteh, who has been selected as the 2021 University of Michigan National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Student of the Year. The NASW awards ceremony will be held virtually this year on Wednesday, March 31, 6-7:30 PM.
NASW student social workers of the year are selected based on the following criteria:
What's the program really like? Where is your field placement? What do social work students do for fun? Join an MSW student as well as other prospective MSW students for a live webchat about the School of Social Work. Our MSW students are excited to answer any questions that you have and share their feedback about the program.
If you prefer, you can schedule an individual appointment with a current MSW student.
The School of Social Work invites grant applications from MSW and PhD students to support individual student projects for anti-racism work, with a specific focus on confronting anti-Blackness, racism against Indigenous peoples and confronting white supremacy. The goal is to inclusively support students working within SSW or in communities seeking to confront racism to the greatest degree possible.
University of Michigan
School of Social Work
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106