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Duane Breijak, MSW ‘12, describes his unexpected path to social work and explains how program evaluation teaches social workers to measure impact and be effective in their efforts.

Program Evaluation & Applied Research

The Program Evaluation and Applied Research pathway provides students with an opportunity to develop advanced skills in program evaluation,and other qualitative and quantitative methodologies. The pathway will balance rigorous inquiry within social justice frameworks and will examine how research/evaluation informs social work policy and practice. Students interested in conducting evaluations (clinical practice, program, or policy), engaging in research, or pursuing a PhD should consider this pathway.

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Examples of career (job) titles and positions relevant to this pathway include but are not limited to:

  • Clinical Research Project Manager
  • Community Development Specialist
  • Consultant
  • Data Manager/Management Specialist
  • Evaluation and Improvement Analyst
  • Foundation Project Officer
  • Impact Measurement Specialist
  • Legislative Financial Analyst
  • PhD student
  • Policy Analyst
  • Presidential Management Fellow
  • Program Evaluator/Program Evaluation Specialist
  • Research Assistant or Research Associate
  • Research Coordinator
  • Strategy Analyst
  • Survey Specialist

Field Experience

Types of agencies and settings where students in this pathway may engage in field learning:

  • Healthcare systems (such as clinical research, quality improvement units)
  • County-based community and economic development units
  • City and State government planning units
  • Social science research labs/centers
  • Research institutes
  • National organizations
  • Foundations, Corporations, Social Impact/Social Entrepreneur organizations
  • Evaluation Firms

Program Details

Pathway Faculty

  • James M. Ellis

    James M. Ellis

    Assistant Professor, School of Social Work and Assistant Professor, Marsal Family School of Education
    K-20 education and career pathways of low income and racial minority students, education pipeline intervensions, racism and discrimination in secondary and postsecondary settings, program evaluation, and underrepresented students’ college preparation, access, and success
  • Katrina R. Ellis

    Katrina R. Ellis

    Assistant Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work, Assistant Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, and Faculty Associate, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research
    African American family health interventions; cancer prevention and survivorship; self and family management of multiple chronic conditions; racial and ethnic disparities in health; digital health; community-based participatory research

Student Profiles

Student Profile
Joanna Jaimes

Joanna Jaimes is a first generation college student born to Mexican immigrant parents. As the oldest of four children, she played an important part in her family as a role model and helped her single mother raise her siblings. Joanna attended four elementary schools within the span of three years after her family experienced housing instability. With the help of family members and a supportive community, her family was able to find stability. Joanna took on a leadership and caretaker role in her family from a young age as she remembers translating for her mother at her siblings’ parent-teacher conferences. “I was doing things that too many kids of immigrant parents experience. I was frustrated that my family did not have the resources that my friends did, and I didn’t understand why we couldn’t be like everyone else,” she recalls. Joanna says that these lived experiences have motivated her to be a force in her community and advocate for socially just service provision for low income and underrepresented families.

Joanna went on to attend Calvin University in Grand Rapids and received a Bachelors degree in Social Work and Political Science. She thought that she would become a therapist, but she wanted to be active in wide scale change. After learning about how social work and politics intertwined, Joanna decided that she wanted to become a macro social worker.

Read Joanna's full student profile.

Student Profile
Mislael A. Valentín Cortés

  • Field Placement:
    UM-SSW Program Evaluation Group

Growing up in a small town in Puerto Rico, Mislael Valentín-Cortés witnessed firsthand how inequality, health disparities, and social injustice affected close relatives and friends. Deeply concerned about these issues, Mislael considered social work early on as a vehicle for social change.

However, given limited resources and lack of BSW programs at his undergraduate institution, he focused his coursework on English and Social Sciences, yet focused his extracurricular activities on community outreach and empowerment, health promotion, and mental health awareness. He then learned of the Future Public Health Leaders Program, a summer internship program designed to increase representation of underserved populations in public health at the University of Michigan.

Through this program, Mislael’s interest in social justice and health equity was cemented, “Growing up, I had experienced the results of systemic injustice and health issues at all levels, yet my perspective was broadened through FPHLP because I learned of health equity issues on a national and global scale.”

“My time in Michigan over the summer was so impactful, that I decided to return for grad school,” he adds.

Read Mislael's full student profile.

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