students awarded grants for sustainability and student wellness 

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 advisor 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!

faculty member reflects on 22 years of public service 

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. 

spotlight on wmu alum

 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! 

kalamazoo Field instructor of the year awarded 

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!

student scholarships awarded 

Each year, we honor some of our most outstanding students with scholarship awards. This years' recipients and their incredible stories are listed below. Get ready to be inspired! Descriptions of all our scholarships, as well as applications for prospective and current students can be found here. If you're interested in extending the legacy of these scholarships, or starting your own, click here

Recipients pictured from left to right: Monique Dortch, Mallory Sullivan, Laura Marcus, Alyse Lange, Karissa Wright, Kathleen Rendell, Micah Gargala, and Amber Johnson.

Robert Barstow Scholarship

Monique Dortch is this years' MSW student recipient. She is in the clinical social work concentration with a trauma specialization.  Her previous work at the Community Healing Center and with Child Protective Services inspired her to pursue further education in trauma.  She has volunteered with Bridges of Poverty, March of Dimes and Riverfront for Sobriety.  She received the award of NASW Oklahoma Undergraduate Social Work Student of the Year.  Her career aspirations include community care service for substance abuse and mental health.

Amber Johnson is this years' BSW student recipient. She is a senior social work major, graduating in April. She is a social work major, minoring in psychology. She is currently employed at the Logan Autism Center, where she loves her position as a behavior technician.  She has been working with young children for her entire adult career, and finds so much joy in it.  She is proud of achieving honors and making the Dean’s List, while working and raising her three children.  Her career aspirations include working in child protective services.  

Rebecca Ann Binkowski Memorial Scholarship

Laura Marcus was chosen as the MSW student recipient for this award. Laura is a first-year MSW student with a specialization in TF-CBT.  She hopes to serve children and their families who have been impacted by trauma.  Her work at Bethany Christian Services has taught her about the global need for trauma services.  Volunteering with Helen DeVos Children’s therapy dog program inspired her to provide unique emotional and social support to children.  Laura’s career aspirations include clinical and international social work. 

 Charlene Cove Russell Endowed Scholarship 

Andrea Zokoe is a clinical MSW student with a holistic health specialization, selected for this award this year.  She have worked at Pine Rest and volunteered with Out of the Darkness walk, an event that brings awareness of suicide prevention.  She is interested in working with children and families who are impacted by trauma and children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  She is proud of her academic achievements, while going to graduate school, working full time and raising her infant daughter.  Her career aspirations include become certified in ABA therapy and working in a hospital. 

 Steven Crumm Scholarship

 Alyse Lange is an advanced standing MSW student awarded this scholarship.  She has spent her career working with postpartum women offering them peer counseling and lactation consulting.  Her experience has made her aware of the gender and racial disparities in the healthcare system.  She is interning for Trauma-Informed Kalamazoo County Government Initiative which is working to promote workplace cultures of respect, healing, and resilience. Her career goals include counseling women with perinatal mood disorders and couching new parents on infant development and attachment needs. 

 Nathaniel McCaslin Scholarship

Nora Goodman is a junior BSW student and the recipient of this scholarship.  While Nora came to Western with plans to major in nursing, a volunteer experience with Refugee Outreach Collective inspired her to switch to social with a minor in Arabic.  She was accepted into the Global Leaders Program and worked on a humanitarian project that was implemented in a refugee camp in Greece.  Her project, “Theatre and Improvisation for Refugee Wellbeing”, offers aides to address the anxiety and depression that has been reported on the island.  Her career aspirations include working with refugee youth.She is currently studying abroad in Jordan.

 Karissa Wright is an advanced standing MSW student with a trauma specialization awarded this scholarship.  She has worked and volunteered with organization that serve at risk children and families.  Karissa has also contributed her time to advocating against human trafficking.  She sits on the Board of the Kalamazoo Area Anti Human Trafficking Coalition.  Her career goals include working as a forensic interviewer, court advocate and developing a mentoring program. 

John P. Mellein Endowed Scholarship 

The awardee of this scholarship is Perla Medina Cano, a senior with plans to graduate in April with her BSW.  While working at Telamon Migrant Head Start she developed a love of working with children and how this organization supported the whole community of migrant farm workers.  She came to Western Michigan University to continue her education as a social worker.  At 23 while she prepared for her first year at Western Michigan University, she also prepared to enter parenthood. Juggling the joys and stresses of school, work, and a growing child can be both overwhelming and rewarding. Today she is 27 and getting ready to graduate from the School of Social Work.  She remembered feeling like this goal was so far out of reach. Although she did not get here as soon as she had expected, she reminds herself that her determination has and will continue to pay off.  Her career aspirations include community planning and development.

 Victoria and Willie H. Pickard Endowed Scholarship  

Lauren Johnson is a junior BSW student with a double minor in Gender and Woman Studies and Holistic Health Care.  She has been involved in volunteer projects that serve children in hospitals, the homeless population and LGBTQ+.  Last spring she was awarded the “Emerging Leader” award at WMU’s Lavender Graduation-a special event for LGBT+ graduates for her leadership in the LGBT+ student organization OUTspoken. Since freshman year she’s been part of the student organization FemiNow, which promotes intersectionality and equality on campus and within the community.  Her career aspirations include pursing an MSW, working in the prison system or with organizations that are serving youth mental health and eating disorders.  

 Deloris J. Phillips Memorial Scholarship                 

 Micah Gargala is a clinical MSW student awarded this scholarship.  After studying Spanish and Sociology in undergraduate, his interest in social justice and institutional structure led him to social work.  He is interested in working at both the macro and micro level, working towards change for immigration reform and homelessness.  His field placement has been to start a non-profit organization that is a collaboration between a local church, the City of Commission of Kalamazoo, and the criminal justice system to provide resources for citizens that are reentry after a prison sentence.  His career goals include working to protect the rights of immigrants.

The BSW recipient for this scholarship is Oliva Leson, a senior BSW student. Since ninth grade, she has volunteered at Wattles Park Men’s Club, which provides sports opportunities for lower income families. She was recently honored by the American Volleyball Coaches Association with the High School Thirty Under 30 award for her work with sports youth programs. Her career aspirations include get her MSW and working at either a community mental health organization or a hospital.

Gale Strutz Memorial Endowed Scholarship            

The Strutz scholarship recipient is Stephen Weaver, a clinical MSW student with a trauma specialization.  As a yoga and meditation instructor working with addicts and alcoholics it has been his deepest passion to help trauma survivors uncover hidden inner potentials to heal body and mind. He is working at Childhood Trauma Assessment Center where he is deepening his understating of the origins of trauma and its effects on the brain and behavior of the child. His other interests are working with addicts and alcoholic who have survived trauma. 

Elena Thomas Scholarship 

Kathleen Rendell is a senior BSW student, graduating this April, who was awarded this scholarship.  She is interested in policy and the global implications of trauma on an individual and societal level.She has volunteered at an equestrian therapy barn and as a court appointed special advocate.  Kathleen is proud of her academic achievements, commitment to volunteering while raising her two young children.  Her career plans include pursuing an MSW with a trauma specialization and working with traumatized children. 

 Mallory Sullivan is the MSW student recipient of this scholarship.  She is interested in advocating for women at risk.  Her work with Head Start and Arbor Circle gave her insight on the barriers that women are facing in raising their children.  Mallory is currently working at Bethany Christian Services as a Community Engagement Specialist, where she is able to break down the stigma around mental illness.  Her career aspirations include counseling women with addictions and increasing their resiliency and parenting skills.

CONGRATULATIONS to all of our recipients! THANK YOU to all our generous donors for making higher education more accessible to our students! 


student, staff & faculty recognition

Faculty awarded $1.35 Million Grant to expand opiod 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 begin September 1 of this year and run through August of 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 inareas 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!

Students, faculty and alum co-author research

Our faculty are actively conbtributing 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 dilligently to promote an inclusive environment, and hosted a diversity and inclusing convference 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 newsources!

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

Updates from the School of Social Work

Study Abroad course course offered spring 2019 in Guatemala with Jennifer Harrison
Travel to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and create transformational connections in Meso-America. PRINTABLE FLYER

Congratulations, Dr. Jennifer Harrison! Celebrating global engagement
Congratulations to our very own Dr. Jennifer Harrison, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work. Dr. Harrison was a 2018 recipient of the WMU Global Engagement Award.

Congratulations to School of Social Work Scholarship Recipients
2018 Scholarship Recognition Dinner was October 9, 2018.  Recipients were presented with award certificates for BSW and MSW awards.

Robert Barstow Scholarship awarded to Morgan Rooy and Da'chelle Burnett
Rebecca Ann Binkowski Memorial Scholarship awarded to Koby Gillespie and Haley Trimmers
Charlene Cove Russel Endowed Scholarship awarded to Dana Scott
Nathaniel McCaslin Scholarship awarded to Jonathon Anthony 
John P. Mellein Endowed Scholarship award to Jayla Smith
Victoria and Willie H. Pickard Endowed Scholarship awarded to Jazmine Marsh
Deloris J. Phillips Memorial Scholarship awarded to Timothy Liggins and Gerson Reyes
Gale Strutz Memorial Endowed Scholarship Amal Mohamed
Elena Thomas Scholarship awarded to Mary Crawford and Tracy Rudi 

WMU alum named NASW Social Worker of the Year
Thom McNally, a 1978 graduate of Western Michigan University's Master of Social Work program, was awarded Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers. WMU School of Social Work Students met with Thom at the NASW's annual LEAD Day Conference in Lansing.

NEW licensing requirements - Changes to the Michigan Social Work General Rules - January 2017

Both Sides of the Fence

Social work professor selected for service learning award
WMU School of Social Work Associate Professor Dr. Barbara Barton was selected by the Michigan Campus Compact to receive the 2014 Michigan Campus Compact Faculty/Staff Community Service-Learning Award.

Social work graduate assistant honored as WMU student employee of the year
Congratulations to Demetria Jones, a graduate assistant in the School of Social Work field education office, who has been selected from among 66 nominees and more than 3,900 student employees as the 2012-13 Western Michigan University Student Employee of the Year.