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I'm Going to Change the World by Being there for Families with Cancer

Khaneisha Harewood

  • Practice Method Concentration:
    Interpersonal Practice
  • Practice Area:
    Health
  • Scholarships:
    Katherine R. Reebel Scholarship
  • Field Placement:
    Milan, MI Health Center

Khaneisha Harewood is turning tragedy into triumph. And her Katherine R. Reebel Scholarship to attend the U-M School of Social Work is an important part of the story.

When Khaneisha was three her mother died of cancer. Khaneisha was uprooted from her native Trinidad and moved to Far Rockaway, on the edge of New York City, where she lived with her sister. But it was not an easy living situation. Eventually a family from Khaneisha’s church took her in and helped her.

At 18, Khaneisha left New York for Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee, near Chattanooga. There she received her Bachelor’s in Social Work and volunteered with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and as a hospice worker. She knew she wanted to go on and earn an MSW. She wanted to work with cancer patients and their families, helping them to prepare for the issues they would face. “I wished there had been some preparation for me as a child,” she says. “It would have helped me a lot if I’d had someone to talk to about what cancer was and what it did to my mother. But there was nothing. A lot of families still deal with those emotions.”

Khaneisha also knew where she wanted to earn her MSW. “University of Michigan is the top social work program in the country,” she says, and grins. “You get more bang for your buck!” But finding those financial resources would be a challenge. Khaneisha remains a Trinidadian citizen, so she is eligible only for private loans. Fortunately, the U-M School of Social Work came through with a Katherine R. Reebel Scholarship, the gift of a much beloved former faculty member.

I am looking forward to the community here. I am grateful for the people here. They are so open, honest and supportive. I look forward to open discussions and the opportunity to grow.

“They were very generous with how much they gave me,” Khaneisha says. And so she is here. On her first day in Ann Arbor, she told us, “I am looking forward to the community here. I am grateful for the people here. They are so open, honest and supportive. I look forward to open discussions and the opportunity to grow. People are actually nicer here!” The beginning of Khaneisha’s classes and her field placement brought more excitement. “I love my professors,” she reported. “They are so knowledgeable in their fields. And I love my field placement. But I want to keep exploring more of what’s out there!

“I am very fortunate that I get to have an education,” Khaneisha reflects, “and to receive the Katherine R. Reebel Scholarship. So many people have the intelligence but don’t have a way of affording graduate school. I feel very blessed to be in school and to have people investing in me.”

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