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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MSW student Cassie Elder is a mother and U.S. Marine Corp veteran. In a webinar this week for mothers serving in the armed forces, Elder shared her experiences to help female veterans searching for resources and support. “I hope that more folks will begin to acknowledge, recognize, and understand the complexities of being a veteran and service member while also being a mom,” she said. “I also hope to bring more visibility to women in the military and our unique experiences.”
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.”
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.
University of Michigan
School of Social Work
1080 South University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106