Class Year: 2023
Program Major: Master of Social Work (with a concentration in mental health with adults and community practice for social change)
Jessica Murgel left behind a city she loved and a full-time development and communications job to attend Case Western Reserve University. She had been working for a domestic violence safe housing organization in Washington, D.C., when her interest in social work became clear. And, although she had to uproot her life, other social work master’s programs couldn’t compete with the investment in research and mentorship opportunities that are fundamental to the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.
“I think it’s rare to find a graduate school where faculty are so deeply invested in students’ overall experience, while also being incredibly successful academics and widely published,” she said. “Those factors are important to me—I thrive in environments where I can develop long-lasting relationships with faculty and staff as well as being pushed to excel academically.”
Murgel’s field placement for fall semester is at the Cuyahoga County Diversion Center—an innovative program that receives referrals from law enforcement officers and members of the community about people who are exhibiting signs and symptoms of mental illness and/or substance use. Those in need are voluntarily connected with treatment centers for care instead of going to the county jail. Murgel is in the observation and training stages of her field placement but will soon begin assessing and supporting the long-term needs of clients, as well as leading groups using Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment.
“I think the bridge from classroom to community is finally starting to click and I’m finding a lot of enjoyment in bringing my newly developed knowledge and skills to life,” she said. “I’m particularly inspired to dive into some research about diverting individuals from incarceration and instead providing them the resources and services they need.”
Murgel has adjusted well to her time in Cleveland and says she’s built her own community of people to lean on and grow with during the program. She looks forward to becoming licensed and developing her clinical skills by doing community mental health work post-graduation. Eventually, she would like to move into research, policy and program development.
In her free time, Murgel serves as president of the Mandel Council—advocating for and connecting with fellow students, and working to improve their experience at the Mandel School. To let off steam, she practices with the CWRU men’s rugby team and participates in rock climbing at Shaker Rocks.