Scholarship Awardees for 2020-21 Academic year

Robert Barstow Scholarship Award: Matthew Carl, Maria Rojas and Megan Van Whye

Matthew Carl, Maria Rojas, and Megan Van Whyewere selected as the recipients of the Robert Barstow Scholarship Award for the 2020-2021 academic year. Students are selected for this scholarship if they demonstrate commitment to child welfare, or if they are or have been an employee or a recipient of Department of Human Services programs. 

Matthew is a foundation level MSW student with a concentration in clinical social work. Matthew has experience working as an investigator for Child Protective Services. Matthew wants a career focused on child welfare and to provide therapy to child victims of trauma.

Maria is a junior level BSW student. Maria is looking to specialize in working with children and currently works for the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services in an Autism Spectrum Disorder classroom. Maria hopes to become a social worker that works with kids and is dedicated to improving systems in the field and creating places where kids can feel safe and independent

Megan is an MSW student with a concentration in clinical social work and a specialization in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy. Megan has experience providing therapeutic support to children and youth in home and community settings. Megan has a passion for serving vulnerable populations and promoting child welfare, and hopes to apply this experience in the future to create an in-home daycare for children in the foster care system to provide respite services, one-on-one therapy, and group support therapy. 

Rebecca Ann Binkowski Memorial Scholarship: Heidi Smoot and Ashley Waltersdorf 

Heidi Smoot and Ashley Waltersdorf were selected as the two recipients for the Rebecca Ann Binkowski Memorial Scholarship for the 2020-2021 academic year. This scholarship is awarded to students who show a commitment to the social work profession and improving the lives of vulnerable individuals and groups.

Heidi is a foundation level MSW student with a concentration in clinical practice. Her focus is on children, families, trauma and coping as well as child welfare and foster care. She has experience interning with Bethany Christian Services in domestic foster care and is hoping to become a foster care worker, and later a supervisor, upon the completion of her MSW.

Ashley is a foundation level MSW student. Ashley has experience working with Catholic Charities West Michigan as an adoption specialist and is dedicated to providing quality services to children in need.

Charlene Cove Russell Endowment Scholarship: Angel McQueen

Angel McQueen was selected as the recipient for the Charlene Cove Russell Endowment Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to a student who exemplifies community service and has field experience in social work. Angel has been working in the foster care system for 7 years and is an advocate for mindfulness and self-care practices. She has experience working internationally with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee. Angel is a full-time working mother of three children. She aspires to build a career in medical social work and provide services to assist others in living a full life.

Stephen A. Crumm Memorial Endowed Scholarship: Michael Fillmore

Michael Fillmore was selected as this year’s recipient of the Stephen A. Crumm Memorial Endowed Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to students who show aptitude in the field of social work and who are active in providing community service. Michael is a foundation student in the extended study MSW program with a concentration in clinical practice. Michael is a father of five and is dedicated to building a career on his passion for working with children. He is currently interning at the Department of Health and Human Services working with the child services department in child protective services and foster care services. Michael hopes to become a licensed social worker and to help give children the opportunity to live their fullest lives.

Whitney Young Scholarship: Allegra Kistler Ellis and Samantha Weaver

Allegra Kistler Ellis and Samantha Weaver were selected as this year’s recipients of the Whitney Young Jr. Scholars Award. Students are selected for this award who have demonstrated academic excellence, a commitment to social justice and the social work profession.

Allegra is an advanced standing MSW student with a concentration in policy, planning and administration. Allegra is involved in education activism, working with anti-racist groups, volunteering with food equity organizations like Gibbs House, and pro-immigration rights organizations in Kalamazoo. Allegra focused her undergraduate thesis on how white supremacy culture and capitalism function as co-dependent systems of oppression. Allegra hopes to user her career to promote anti-racism work, participate in social justice advocacy and interrogate societal institutions.

Samantha is a foundation level MSW student with a concentration in clinical social work. Samantha works as an anti-racism facilitator and organizer for ERACCE (Eliminating Racism and Creating/Celebrating Equity), and has experience working for Farmworker Legal Services, OutFront Kalamazoo, and Michigan United. Samantha hopes to work with members of the LGBTQ+ community in mental health care. Samantha plans to become a licensed social worker and to provide inclusive and direct mental health counseling and therapy to young, marginalized people.

Nathaniel McCaslin Scholarship: Amber Johnson

Amber Johnson was selected as the recipient of the Nathanial McCaslin Scholarship for the 2020-2021 academic year. This scholarship is awarded to students who come from a disenfranchised group, and who show aptitude and commitment to social work. Amber is a MSW student with a concentration in clinical practice and specializing in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. Amber is a first-generation college student and has three children. Amber works part time with children with autism as a registered behavior technician, as well in an internship with Samaritas on the children’s trauma assessment team. Amber hopes to obtain her MSW and pursue a career in clinical practice with children who have experienced trauma.

Deloris Phillips Memorial Scholarship: Patricia Hana and Alexis Freed

Patricia Hana and Alexis Freed were selected as the recipients of the Deloris Phillips Memorial Scholarship for the 2020-21 academic year. This scholarship is awarded to students with exemplary academic records.

Patricia is a junior level student in the BSW program. Patricia has experience as a coach for running and softball, political volunteer experience, has volunteered at OutFront Kalamazoo (a local LGBTQ+ resource center), and has worked at inpatient treatment centers and with those recovering from substance use disorders. Patricia is interested in working in the criminal justice system to work with individuals to provide individualized, holistic plans as an alternative to traditional incarceration.

Alexis is BSW student hoping to complete an MSW concentrating in clinical social work with a specialization in trauma. Alexis has experience working with Kalamazoo County Ready 4’s, Portage Community Center, Family and Children’s Services and SouthernCare Hospice. Alexis hopes to begin a career working with children in the field of trauma.

Victoria & Willie. H. Pickard Endowed Scholarship: Dustin Corwin

Dustin Corwin was selected as the recipient of the Victoria & Willie H. Pickard Endowed Scholarship for the 2020-21 academic year. This scholarship is awarded to full time students who display academic successful and a commitment to social work. Dustin is a a first generation college student. Dustin is interning at People of Change and involved in community projects. He is leaning towards macro social work and hopes to work with people who are in poverty, drug addictions, and criminal justice issues.

Gale Strutz Scholarship: Christian Conyers and Kathleen Rendell

Christian Conyers and Kathleen Rendell were selected as the recipients of the Gale Strutz Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to students with academic excellence and a dedication to the field of social work.

Christian is enrolled in the full-time MSW program as a foundation level student. Christian is passionate about social justice for the elderly and support of the elderly and disadvantaged in nursing homes and started a senior care advocacy group called My Mother’s Advocate. She hopes to use her knowledge and degree to improve the lives of seniors and their families.

Kathleen is a senior level BSW student. Kathleen has a passion for human rights and the implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights for the Child. She has volunteer experience as a court appointed special advocate. After graduation Kathleen hopes to apply to law school and focus on social justice through human and land rights.

Elena Thomas Scholarship: Khadejah Al Muhaisi and Maurice Miller

Khadejah Al Muhaisi and Maurice Miller were selected as the recipients for the Elena Thomas Scholarship for the 2020-21 academic year. This scholarship is awarded to an MSW student of non-traditional age who shows commitment to the field of social work.

Maurice is a senior level student in the BSW program. Maurice has experience volunteering with Gospel Mission in downtown Kalamazoo, serving the homeless, and is a member of the Phi Alpha Honor Society. Maurice hopes to invest in and start a social work agency that is an incorporated and one-stop service agency.

Khadejah is a full time MSW student hoping to promote women’s rights in Saudi Arabia working with the Basma Charity Association in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Khadejah has extensive volunteer experience and currently is interning with Gryphon Place in Kalamazoo. Khadejah hopes to get a MSW, PhD and LLMSW and to be a social worker in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

student, staff & faculty recognition

Faculty Member Appointed to NASW-MI Social Justice & Anti-racism Committee 

Dr. Dee Ann Sherwood, faculty member and Grand Rapids MSW program coordinator for the School of Social Work, has been appointed to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW)-Michigan Chapter's, Social Justice and Anti-Racism Committee. The Social Justice and Anti-Racism Committee will work with agency, university, and legislative partners to coordinate statewide collective action, provide education on anti-racism and systemic oppression, and develop resources for social workers to lead conversations in organizational settings.  The Committee will also serve NASW-MI with the development of official statements, position papers, and updates to the diversity, equity, and inclusion plan. 

Researchers Awarded National Institute on Drug Abuse Diversity Supplement

Drs. Stephen Magura (The Evaluation Center) and Bridget E. Weller (School of Social Work) have received a diversity supplement funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This one-year grant will support research examining the prevalence of substance use, using three approaches to drug screening (self-report, oral fluid, urine), by gender and race/ethnicity. It will also provide Dr. Weller with the opportunity to enhance her knowledge of epidemiology and treatment of substance use disorders for women and individuals from racial/ethnic minority groups. This supplement complements Dr. Magura’s current R01-funded study.

We Walk Together Grant Seeks to Prevent Suicide Among Gun Lake Tribe Youth

The Gun Lake Tribe, in partnership with Cheryl Endres, and WMU School of Social Work faculty Dr. Dee Sherwood received a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for youth suicide prevention. This grant expands existing services from The Gun Lake Tribe (GLT) for  citizens ages 10-24 of federally recognized tribes who reside in Allegan, Barry, Kalamazoo, Kent, and Ottawa counties of Michigan. The grant uses The Zero Suicide Model to develop team-based guidance and support to operationalize a suicide care plan into practice, while evidenced-based Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is used to systematically screen, assist and refer people with substance abuse, suicide and suicide risk factors. The project will also incorporate staff and community training to better identify, assess and increase referrals.  

Alum and Instructor Valerie Cunningham Coordinates Third Annual African American Mental Health Symposium

The third annual African American Mental Health Symposium, organized by instructor and alum Valerie Cunningham, will take place on October 15-16, 2020 from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Topics will include: deadly misconceptions around mental health, the trauma of racism and microaggressions, criminalization of blackness, toxic masculinity, school-induced stress and depression, and much more! CEs will be available.

Register today!

Faculty awarded $1.35 Million Grant to expand opioid workforce

Dr. Bridget Weller and Dr. Jennifer Harrison were awarded the Opioid Workforce Expansion Project (OWEP) grant for the Michigan Youth Prevention and Recovery from Opioid Use Disorders (MY-PROUD) project.  This three year program will run through August 2022. The MY-PROUD project was awarded a total funding of $1.35 Million, 60% of which will go directly to our CHHS graduate students in the form of stipends! The goal of the program is to fundamentally transform the behavioral health workforce in Southwest Michigan toward greater competency in preventing, treating, and supporting recovery from Opioid Use Disorders, particularly with youth and transitionally aged adults. MY-PROUD will  partner with healthcare and school providers in areas with the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths and the lowest access to behavioral health care, including Calhoun, Jackson, Muskegon, and Van Buren counties.

Congratulations to Dr. Bridget Weller and Dr. Jennifer Harrison on this incredible opportunity! Our congratulations extend to the entire MY-PROUD team, including Amy Jessop, Tiffany Lee, and Lisa Brennan who bring specific strengths in SBIRT, overdose prevention and tracking systems, healthcare workforce programs, and Dr. Ann Tyler, Robin Brown, and Alicia Dorr, who bring expertise in grant funding and execution, continuing education, and community outreach.

Trauma program recognized as #1 by!

The WMU School of Social Work has been recognized as the top choice for MSW students interested in working with traumatized populations by We offer two specializations, Trauma Specialization: Trauma Across the Lifespan and the Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy evidence-based training project, with a total of seventeen courses. These programs were founded by Dr. Karen Van Deusen and Dr. Ineke Way. Additionally, courses have been designed and taught by Dr. Y. Unrau, Dr. B. Weller, Dr. D. Sherwood, Dr. J. Gladden, C. Black-Pond, Dr. J. Harrison, Dr. M.McCormick and C. Roberts. This program wouldn't be possible without all our wonderful faculty advisors, field coordinators, field instructors, school directors, and our excellent administrative support staff.

Interested in more information? Contact us at (269) 387-3180 or We are honored to be a part of your educational journey, and hope to continue to set the bar for excellence in evidence-based treatment of trauma!


WMU graduate students have been busy writing grants to improve their communities! 

  • Advanced standing students Alyse Lange and Emma Tervonen (with advisor Jennifer Klauth) were awarded full funding, totaling $17,200, for their Products for Menstrual Sustainability (PMS) proposal by the Student Sustainability Grants Allocation Committee. The PMS project addresses several issues associated with sustainability, period poverty, accessibility and stigma that affect our campus community. The project will provide menstrual cups for 1000 WMU students and host an educational kick-off event highlighting the anatomical, environmental and global impacts of menstrual cups. One hundred menstrual cups will be donated to the Invisible Needs Project and the remaining cups will be distributed by the School of Social Work.

    The project aims to reduce safety and personal comfort concerns surrounding gaining access to menstrual products experienced by transgender and gender nonconforming students by practicing discretion in cup distribution. 
    The supplier chosen for this project, Dot, will provide an additional 1000 cups to individuals in developing countries, doubling the environmental, economic and social impact of the project. In total, this project will prevent an estimated 6.5 million sanitary products from ending up in landfills and save cup recipients an approximate combined total of $2.4 million over the 10-year lifespan of the menstrual cups. It is the hope that Products for Menstrual Sustainability will serve as a pilot program that can be adopted and expanded by the Office of Sustainability. 
  • MSW students Johnny Anderson and Angeliaca Rhan (with advisors Dr. Bridget Weller and Dr. Jennifer Harrison) were also awarded a WMU Student Sustainability Grant for their proposal, Reduce, Reuse, Regalia (RRR). This grant will allow the School of Social Work to purchase graduation regalia for students to borrow for graduation and return to the school for future use. This initiative will reduce the waste of regalia going unused and eventually into landfills, while also saving students the cost of the regalia they will likely only wear once. 
  • MSW concentration student Levi Soto is currently interning at the Van Buren Intermediate School District. He saw the need for various rural school districts in the Van Buren County to develop and strengthen school wellness teams. With the help of Tom Richardson (Administrator for Business Development and Partnerships) and Gale Knight (Nutrition Education Coordinators), Hartford High School applied for and received the Step Up for School Wellness Grant. This grant provides students, teachers and administrators with training, curriculum, equipment, funds, communication tools and external coaches to create a healthy school environment that supports a culture of wellness. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Team Nutrition, United Dairy Industry of Michigan and Action for Healthy Kids are all partners for this grant.

Congratulations to our incredible students on their grant successes!


Professor Don Cooney, a long-time WMU School of Social Work legend, is completing his final term as City Commissioner in Kalamazoo. However, he's still fighting for justice in our city and teaching our students how to lead! Watch this interview with Professor Cooney. 


Ever wonder what our students do after they graduate? Recent graduate Katherine Reeber, MSW, shares on the WMU career website about her new role and experiences as a WMU student. Check it out!  

On October 29, 2019,  the White House Press Secretary announced the President's intent to appoint WMU School of Social Work alum Bella Hounakey of Michigan, to be a Member of the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking for a two-year term. Congratulations, Bella, on this incredible honor! 


Each year, the School of Social Work celebrates an amazing field instructor for their hard work and dedication to educating WMU social work leaders. Field instructors meet weekly with their students for supervision and train them to become an integral part of their field agency's daily work. This is a volunteer role, so we are deeply grateful to their investment in WMU students and the future of our profession.

This years' awardee is Dr. Margaret Richardson, Research Director at the Child Trauma Assessment Center at WMU's Unified Clinics. Thanks, Dr. Richardson, for your service!

Students, faculty and alum co-author research

Our faculty are actively contributing to the wealth of knowledge in the profession through research publications, and often students join them in these efforts. Recent publications include:

- Harrison, J., Chapleau, A., Schell, M., Vaughan, V., & Colzin, C. (2019). Leveraging technology in field education for digital natives: Using goal attainment scaling. Social Work Education, 1-11. doi:10.1080/02615479.2019.1642318  

- Harrison, J., Morehouse, B., & Thelen, J. (n.d.). Sentinel issues in social work in the united states: National context, practice trends, and application to military members. In  Austerity social work and welfare policies: A global perspective. (pp. 195-214).

MSW Student Presents at National Men of Color Summit

Levi Soto (second from left) with his colleagues at the Men of Color National Summit, 2019.

MSW Student Levi Soto presented at the  Clemson University Men of Color National Summit on April 25-26, 2019. In partnership with the WMU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Levi and his colleagues, Lauren Carney (Director of KPSP), and Irving Quintero (Kalamazoo Promise Senior) presented a workshop titled, “Somos El Futuro” “We Are The Future”- Effectively working with Hispanic/Latino students. Levi Soto, who facilitated the workshop, grew up as a migrant, first generation college student and minority which inspired him to advocate for those who are often unheard. Congratulations on your outstanding scholarship and contribution to our profession!

CHHS Committee Recognized for Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

Faculty member Marian Tripplett was honored alongside her fellow  College of Health and Human Services Diversity & Inclusion committee members, with the University Rising Star in Diversity Award. The committee has worked diligently to promote an inclusive environment, and hosted a diversity and inclusion conference for the university and community members. Thank you for your work towards promoting diversity at WMU! Learn more about the award and read the story in WMU News.

 Highlighted in the News

MSW internships with social workers in Small and Rural Libraries Program featured in two local news sources!

Not the Usual Information, Libraries hosting social workers - The Herald-Palladium
Cassopolis District Library offers onsite social workers - Cassopolis Vigilant