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Students & Alumni

Class of BS ‘18

  1. Payton Watt Payton Watt

    Payton Watt, BS ‘18 is an undergraduate senior studying Biology, Health, and Society with a minor in Community Action and Social Change (CASC). While growing up in Ann Arbor, she volunteered with underserved communities in soup kitchens and local shelters. Payton saw firsthand the oppression that individuals faced, and it led her to co-founded Michigan Movement, during her sophomore year. The student organization aids individuals and families experiencing homelessness and poverty in Ann Arbor. Since then, she has advocated for and done research on economic mobility, food access, disability, and affordability both on and off campus. She is a member of the CASC student advisory board, a research assistant at Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan and is currently applying to MPH programs for health management and policy.

Class of BBA ‘19

  1. Logan Ziegler Logan Ziegler

    Logan Ziegler, BBA ‘19, is an undergraduate senior studying business with a minor in Community Action and Social Change. Originally from Dearborn, Michigan, Logan grew up in a very diverse community that shaped who he is as a person today. With his business degree and CASC minor, Logan hopes to utilize his education in the nonprofit sector following graduation, working with underserved and underrepresented people. Currently, Logan is volunteering at the Hikone Community Center, which is an after school program that is a part of the Community Action Network (CAN). On the CASC student board, Logan has helped start a volunteer initiative that we hope will launch this semester.  On campus, Logan is also a member of the Mind Matters Mental Health Initiative at Ross, which puts on events throughout the year focused on de-stressing during exams and ending the stigma surrounding mental health awareness.

Admitted 2023

  1. Ashley Behnke Ashley Behnke

    Coverdell Fellow Student Admitted 2023

    Ashley (she/her) grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, right on the border of Washington, DC. She obtained her BA in Sociology and Theatre from Davidson College in North Carolina. She served in the Peace Corps as an English Literacy Volunteer in Saint Lucia as a part of the Eastern Caribbean Cohort from 2019-2020 until being evacuated due to COVID. For the past two years she worked as a Healthcare Advocate for a tech start up, Included Health, aiming to increase accessibility and improve health literacy for people of all backgrounds. As a Coverdell fellow, she hopes to help others heal from their core wounds and navigate complex trauma in an outpatient therapy setting. Ashley enjoys traveling, hiking, yoga, camping, dancing, and all things adventure.

  2. Claire Maki Claire Maki

    Claire (she/her) is an MSW student in the Global Social Work and Community Change program and discovered her passion for social work during her final year at UW-Madison. With a background in Legal Studies and Social Welfare, specializing in Criminal Justice and Asian American Studies, Claire's academic journey reflects her curiosity and desire for a global perspective. She loves dancing, music (especially BTS), and is always open to new adventures.

    Her diverse work experiences as a Pharmacy Technician, youth sports coach, painter, baker, and, most significantly, as a Community Resource Navigator in Madison, have shaped her into a well-rounded individual. In her role as a navigator, Claire bridged the gap between available resources and community members. recognizing the importance of helping individuals access what is available. This experience ignited her dedication to social work, leading her to this MSW program. As a GASP participant and new U-M student, Claire is eager to broaden her worldview and deepen her understanding of the world. Her core values of respect, openness, and acceptance drive her to seek out experiences that share these principles. Claire's journey in social work promises to be transformative as she continues to make a positive impact on communities and individuals alike.

  3. Ingrid Wefing Ingrid Wefing

    Ingrid (she/her) graduated cum laude from Amherst College in 2021 where she studied Psychology and Middle Eastern Studies. Her impressive background experiences include serving as a Community Advisor for the Amherst Office of Residential Life, leading collegiate recovery initiatives, teaching English to adult Arabic-speaking learners, and supporting refugee communities. After graduating, she worked as a case manager coordinating care for survivors of torture and as an office and intake specialist at Colorado Legal Services serving low-income Coloradans in need of legal services. In each of these roles, she has honed her mentorship, cross-cultural dialogue, and community-building capacities. She is currently doing her field placement in the Behavioral Health Department at ACCESS in Dearborn. During her time in the MSW program, Ingrid hopes to expand her understanding of global community-based approaches to social work. In her free time Ingrid enjoys reading, hiking, swimming, and spending time with her cat.

  4. Jen Denzin Jen Denzin

    Coverdell Fellow Student Admitted 2023

    Jen (she/her/hers) graduated from the University of Michigan in 1996 with a BA in English Literature. After completing her teaching certification at UM, she married her best friend and they served as secondary educators in Kenya from 1998-2000. Upon their return, Jen completed her MA in English and Education at UM while working for the Ginsberg Center’s Lives of Urban Children and Youth program. Jen returned to classroom teaching at Northville High School and has spent the last 20 years at Saline High School where she teaches English, psychology, and a service-learning course. She is the head of the English department, the co-founder and director of the school’s writing center, and a co-founder of the service-learning program. As a Coverdell Fellow, Jen aims to complete her MSW to combine her passion for direct service to others with research, practice, and policy change. As a mother of two fabulous young adults, and teacher of many adolescents, she works to make the world better for their generation and those who follow.

  5. Jerrard Wheeler Jerrard Wheeler

    Coverdell Fellow Student Admitted 2023

    Jerrard Wheeler (he/him) served in Peace Corps Zambia from 2016 - 2018. In Zambia, Jerrard served as a Linking Income Food & the Environment (LiFE'r) volunteer completing fish and rice farming projects as well as engaging youth in art and empowerment clubs. Prior to serving in the Peace Corps, Jerrard worked to elucidate the Black American experience as a Public Ally AmeriCorp Intern at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Currently, Jerrard works at UM-Dearborn as an Intercultural Program Manager. In this role, he supports students from historically marginalized backgrounds to navigate the collegiate experience at a primarily white institution. As a Coverdell Fellow, Jerrard is interested in crafting a mezzo-level social work experience, valuing the ability of social work to zoom in and focus on individuals and small groups, and then to be able to zoom out and address problems facing communities and society at large. Jerrard is interested in exploring art-based therapies, qualitative assessments, and group work through the lens of social work. He aspires to support black and queer and migrant communities through his social work practice. Jerrard is obsessed with techno music. He is also a New Leader in African Centered Social Work Fellow.

  6. Kaisha Brezina Kaisha Brezina

    Kaisha (she/her/hers) was born in Muskegon, Michigan and spent much of her time as a child in Western Michigan and throughout Florida. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2017 with a degree in Psychology and International Studies. After graduation Kaisha worked at the University of Michigan School of Social Work as a coordinator for global programs, working with students to create their own global experience, incoming exchange students, and international visitors. Kaisha has also worked in Uzbekistan, as an English Teaching Assistant in a local public school and an after school program for under-resourced high school students. Kaisha is interested in resource equity, program development, centering community knowledge, and community organizing. Kaisha's current field placement is at Jewish Family Services working in the Youth Mentoring Program. In her free-time, Kaisha enjoys reading, watching the newest fantasy or superhero movie, and cooking (and eating) new foods.

  7. Mackenzie Shah Mackenzie Shah

    Mackenzie (she/her/hers) was born and raised in Indianapolis and graduated from Indiana University. She graduated with highest distinction in 2021 with a Bachelor’s in International Studies, a certificate in Clinical Psychological Science, and minors in Arabic and Global Health Promotion. During her studies, Mackenzie spent time in Ghana and Ecuador understanding their health systems and practices, studying Arabic in Jordan, and working as an intern promoting mental health education and awareness. Upon graduation, she worked with neurodivergent children in a therapeutic clinic and volunteered in an after-school program working with Syrian and Sudanese refugee children. Mackenzie is an MSW Candidate in the Interpersonal Practice in Integrated Health, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse and Global Social Work Practice pathways. She is currently doing her fieldwork with ACCESS in Dearborn, MI where she works in the Mental Health and Family Counseling Department. Throughout her time as an MSW student and GASP scholar, Mackenzie hopes to gain more insight into integrating trauma-informed, evidence-based, intersectional, and culturally-informed approaches into her practice working with refugee and immigrant populations in the U.S. and abroad. In her free time, Mackenzie enjoys reading, traveling, exploring new places, cooking, and baking.

  8. Maryam Syed Maryam Syed

    Maryam Syed is a dual-degree student, pursuing an MS in Environmental Justice at SEAS and an MSW in the Global Social Work Pathway. Maryam is interested in the intersection of sustainability programs and social justice. Throughout her academic and professional career, she has worked on understanding the impacts environmental development programs have on local communities. She completed her BA in Anthropology at Albion College where she conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Southern Province, Zambia examining the violence towards communities living around national parks in the name of conservation. She then completed her MA in International Development at American University, where she was exposed to the inner workings of development programs and realized how flawed program design and evaluations are, regardless of how participatory they claim to be. In her current programs, she is focused on how ongoing sustainable development schemes in South Asia may produce violence instead of resilience. She has received a FLAS fellowship to support her language studies. Outside of the classroom, Maryam works for Uproot, an organization focused on transforming environmental education, and is also co-founder of the reading club, Feminists of Color in Environment. As a GASP student, she hopes to learn more about justice-oriented and participatory research in global settings.

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