Joint PhD student Irene Routté has been awarded a 2021 Rackham Public Scholarship Grant for her project “Grand Rapids Congolese Refugee Youth Council and Leadership Program.” In partnership with Michigan Banyamulenge Community (MBC), a refugee-run organization in Grand Rapids, Routté will help develop and launch a community-driven youth council and leadership development program for Congolese refugee youths. This project will help MBC extend its organizational capacity to serve the roughly 8,000 Congolese refugees in the Grand Rapids area and create a space of support and empowerment for Congolese and other refugee youth.
The Rackham Program in Public Scholarship supports mutually beneficial projects created between Rackham students and community partners.
Ed-Dee Williams, Joint Doctoral Program in Social Work and Sociology, has successfully defended his dissertation entitled, “Black Boys Mental Health Help-Seeking: Exploring Perceptions, Barriers and Social Processes.” His committee consisted of Jamie Mitchell and Alford A. Young, Jr. (co-chairs), David Córdova and Renee Anspach.
Williams will join the University of Michigan School of Social Work Level Up: Employment Skills Simulation Lab as a postdoctoral fellow this August. Williams will use his expertise on the mental health of Black youth to support two federally funded studies that are focused on autism, as well as engage in an intensive training program to lead randomized controlled trials.The fellowship will also support Williams to develop a new technology-based intervention to enhance the conversational help-seeking skills for Black autistic youth experiencing depression.
Joint PhD students Sunghyun Hong and Irene Routte were invited to give the presentation, Social Justice in Architecture: Trauma-informed Built Environment, to employees and leadership at Quinn Evans Architects' four offices. "Irene and I were able to translate our research work and disseminate theories into digestible and applicable pieces for professionals outside of academia," says Hong. "It was a great opportunity to work with community members with whom social workers may not traditionally have worked, yet have immense overlaps, particularly in attention to the importance of macro work."
Sara Stein, Joint Doctoral Program in Social Work and Psychology, has successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Towards Intentional Relational Well-Being: Syndemic Contributions of Mental Health, Trauma Exposure, and Sociodemographic Factors to Risk for Intimate Partner Violence Victimization.” Her committee consisted of Andrew Grogan-Kaylor and Sandra Graham-Bermann (chairs), Julie Ribaudo, Quyen Ngo and Todd Herrenkohl.
Sara received a two year American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship to work with Alison Miller and Maria Muzik at the University of Michigan.
Hayeon Lee, Joint Doctoral Program in Social Work and Anthropology, has successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Korea Dreaming: Vietnamese Women's Stories from the Marriage Migration Cycle.” Her committee consisted of Michael Spencer, Kelly Askew (co-chairs), Sandra Momper, Ruth Behar and Youngju Ryu.
Change Kwesele, Joint Doctoral Program in Social Work and Psychology, has successfully defended her dissertation entitled “‘Shibukeni!’: Exploring the Mental Health Perceptions and Experiences of Young Adult Children of African Immigrants through the Lens of Sociocultural Influences.” Her committee consisted of Katie Richards-Schuster, Rona Carter (co-chairs), Jacqui Smith, Daicia Price and Moses Okumu.
Angie Perone, Joint PhD Program in Social Work and Sociology, has successfully defended her dissertation entitled "Safety, Autonomy, Discrimination, and Religious Exemptions: Three Papers on How Long-Term Care Facility Staff Navigate Conflicting Rights." Her committee consisted of Berit Ingersoll-Dayton, Sandra Levitsky (co-chairs), Ruth Dunkle and Elizabeth Armstrong. Dr. Perone has accepted a position as an assistant professor at UC Berkeley's School of Social Welfare beginning in 2022.
PhD student Lauren Whitmer is the 2021-22 recipient of the U-M Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS) Alfredo D. & Luz Maria P. Gutierrez Dissertation Award. The award will support Whitmer in the writing of her dissertation, “Finding a Way Through the Violence: How Mujeres Abusadas in Lambayeque, Peru Navigate Formal and Informal Help-Seeking.” The selection committee specifically cited the high quality of Whitmer’s scholarly work. “I am very thankful for this support, which will allow me to dedicate myself, fully, to writing my dissertation in the coming academic year. Additionally, it is so gratifying to have my work recognized as an important and valuable contribution to the field of LACS,” says Whitmer.
PhD student and Reverend Charles Williams of Detroit’s King Solomon Baptist Church is featured in a HuffPost article about closing the COVID-19 vaccine race gap. Citing accessibility and hesitancy, Williams thinks it could be a year or more before citywide vaccination rates in Detroit catch up to the rest of the country. “There’s a sincere concern about the care that many of us get when we go to the doctor’s office, end up in the hospital,” Williams said. “You talk to any Black family, we all have the same strategy ― somebody is going to have to be there around the clock, in the room, to stay on top of these nurses and to make sure the doctor comes by, because if we don’t practice that strategy, the system will let our loved one down.”
PhD students Joonyoung Cho and Rita Hu have been selected as Karl Ma Endowed Scholars for 2021. The Karl Ma award supports students from Asia who wish to pursue careers in public service, particularly those in the schools of social work, education and nursing.
“As an international student studying social work, which requires me to not only do research on campus but also commit to social work practices in our local communities, I face many unique challenges when wanting to engage with communities outside of U-M (i.e. limits on work hours and additional applications and justifications for off-campus work),” says Hu. “The Karl Ma Award will provide me the opportunities to focus on research and social work fieldwork. I plan to use the scholarship to participate in intervention and program evaluation projects, headed by our social work faculty, to further explore how to best serve older adults.
“I am immensely grateful for the scholarship,” adds Cho. “For the first time, I will be able to focus exclusively on my research, and I will do my best to spend my time wisely and productively.”
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