Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in social work, UW–Madison
Social policy, Health in All Policies, reproductive health policy
Expected graduation date
Why an MPA-MPH?
I grew up in a small, poor, rural community in northern Wisconsin that has been greatly impacted by methamphetamine and other substance use. I have been personally impacted by this issue, with one side of my family struggling with addiction. The experiences that shaped my youth led me to the field of social work. After receiving my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from UW–Madison, I worked directly with survivors of intimate partner violence at the local domestic violence shelter and pregnant and post-partum individuals in a Department of Corrections residential treatment facility. I have also had the opportunity to work with the Dane County Criminal Justice Council on a project related to reducing recidivism for women involved in the criminal justice system. Through these experiences, I always felt as if we were “putting a band-aid” on the problems that led clients to our services instead of the systemic factors (housing, access to services, discrimination) that make it difficult to sustain the progress the individuals made in our programs.
Why the La Follette School?
I was drawn to La Follette because of the renowned faculty and opportunities to network with alumni and other important individuals in the policy realm. I have had the privilege of working as a project assistant for the Wisconsin Family Impact Seminars, where I have had the opportunity to connect with legislators and nation-wide experts and learn more about the faculty in the school. I was also drawn to the analytical and quantitative skills that La Follette offers. This was a gap in my previous education, and it is such a needed skill set.
Over the summer, I completed my APEX internship for the public health side of my MPA-MPH dual-degree. I worked with Healthfirst Network, a reproductive health network in central Wisconsin, to create a model that embeds social workers within reproductive health. Healthfirst has found that while they are able to provide reproductive health services and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program benefits for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), they do not have the capacity to assist with some of their clients’ other needs that factor into their overall health such as affordable housing, access to food, and mental health services. While there are models that place social workers within clinical settings, there is not a model that specifically embeds social workers within reproductive health. The goal of this experience is to create a translatable model that can be implemented within their nine-county network and beyond.
I have recently taken a class with Sarah Davis who provided excellent instruction on public health systems. Through her course, I worked on a systems paper outlining the economic consequences of restrictive abortion legislation. I chose this topic prior to the leak related to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Supreme Court case and Sarah provided excellent feedback and support in framing and adjusting this analysis.
Advice for prospective La Follette School students
Take every opportunity available to you while in school (and outside)! I regret rushing through my master of social work program and not creating a program that was tailored to my specific interests.
I would also say enjoy school and take care of yourself. The issues we are going to be facing in our careers are complex and can take a toll over time. Establishing a self-care and healthy work-life balance (including getting a full eight hours of sleep) while in school will do wonders while in the workforce. Do not be afraid to ask for help and advocate for yourself. Being a student is only one aspect of our lives.
People would be surprised if they knew that I …
Worked for my county’s highway department over the summer throughout undergraduate degree. I honestly felt like I was in a never-ending episode of “Dirty Jobs”!
I live in Fitchburg with my two cats and kayak. Every year I get closer to becoming a cat lady. After graduation (and getting a job) I intend to become an emergency foster parent.