Ada Jackson featured as one of CWRU's outstanding 2023 graduates

Ada Jackson with Mandel School faculty members

At Case Western Reserve University, our students excel in research, academics, athletics and in the community. 

This week, we will celebrate the accomplishments of about 2,500 graduates. It would be impossible to comprehensively describe all of their contributions, but we caught up with a graduating student from each of CWRU’s schools and the college. They told us about their time at the university, what they have learned, and what they plan to carry forward in their careers.

Learn more about our commencement ceremonies and join the university in celebrating students during the clap out on Case Quad today (May 17) as graduates process to convocation.

Read more about the Mandel School's featured student, Ada Jackson, below.

Ada Jackson

Ada Jackson began her career at Case Western Reserve University in August 2020—in the midst of the pandemic. As a Master of Social Work student with a child welfare fellowship at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences’ intensive weekend (IW) format, she was looking forward to working full time and attending class in person on the weekends, but a shift to remote delivery derailed her plans. 

Adding to the long days and weekends of Zoom meetings, Jackson also had to care for her young son, grieve the unexpected death of her uncle, and deal with the general isolation of COVID. It all began to take a toll on her mental health.

“Life continues to happen even when you’re trying to do better [by going back to school],” she reflected. “Everything that was bad in that moment seemed like the end of the world, but I survived.”

Jackson decided to tackle things one day at a time, focusing on her job in short-term services at the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services where she worked to ensure the safety of children in the county. Acting almost as a first responder to child and sex abuse referrals, she met with families, hosted forensic interviews and worked closely with law enforcement and community agencies. Fortunately, her job also qualified as her field education curriculum requirement for her master’s program, and exposed her to different experiences outside of her normal responsibilities. Jackson has tried to use those as learning opportunities to enhance her knowledge and further her education.

“My field experiences allowed me to apply a different lens to my job,” she said. “I was challenged to think more critically and objectively about systemic practices in child welfare.”

Jackson learned throughout her journey at the Mandel School that she’s a macro thinker—a “bigger why” person who questions everything. After she graduates this month, she plans to use the knowledge she has gained to advocate and implement systemic change within the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services, holding agencies and policy makers accountable for the systems they put into place.

This story appeared in The Daily on May 17, 2023.