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Laura Renard, MSW '15

Laura Renard, MSW '15

  • Scholarships:
    Child Welfare Scholarship and the Rachel M. Hawkins Field Placement Travel Support Scholarship

As a little kid I always dreamed of going to graduate school.  I wanted to stretch my horizons, to think, ask questions and explore new ideas.  As I got closer to my dream, the price tag for an advanced degree intimidated me.  Graduate school tuition would be one of the largest expenses I have faced.

I grew up in poverty in an under resourced community bordering the west side of Detroit.  Even though I was the youngest in my family, I was only the second of my four siblings to graduate from high school.  I regularly watched my family and my community face daily hardships, and my upbringing inspired me to work to make lasting change in my community. 

As an undergraduate, I worked in a lab with social workers evaluating relationships between new moms and their toddlers.  This research was fascinating and changed my career trajectory. I knew I could make a real impact in my community with a social work degree.

As I looked at graduate opportunities, the University of Michigan was my dream school.  It’s the best social work school in the nation and close to my home.   I didn’t know how I could afford it, but I applied with my fingers crossed and a sense of hope.  Not only was I accepted into the school of my dreams, but I received the Child Welfare Scholarship and the Rachel M. Hawkins Field Placement Travel Support Scholarship.

Thanks to my travel scholarship I have a field placement in Detroit working with teens in juvenile detention.  Once kids are placed in juvenile detention they often are labeled by society in a negative way. I want to change people’s assumptions about these kids, and I want inspire a sense of hope with these young people that they can do better. These kids are funny, insightful, bright and hurting.  Talking with the teens is the highlight of my week.  I sit across from them and treat them like they are the most important person I have met …not just a file or a case number.

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