After several years of adjusted plans due to pandemic-related health and safety protocols, the Case Western Reserve University community will gather once again this year for fully in-person commencement events.
As more than 3,000 students prepare to earn their diplomas, The Daily is highlighting eight outstanding graduates—one from each school—before they move on to the next steps of their professional journeys.
Read more about the Mandel School's featured student, Sami Hausserman, below.
Samantha “Sami” Hausserman entered the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences’ Master of Social Work program ready to pursue her interest in social justice. But it wasn’t until Hausserman secured a field internship with the school’s Community Innovation Network (CIN) that she got the opportunity to dive into mental health and community engagement—a path she now hopes to follow in her social work career.
Through CIN, Hausserman was assigned to help the YMCA of Greater Cleveland promote mental wellness within its community branches. Among her projects: a survey of more than 2,000 YMCA members from across the Greater Cleveland area to uncover how they felt about the mental health and substance use care and support they received from the organization, as well as how it could supplement that support.
Analyzing the qualitative data, Hausserman found that a large majority felt the YMCA supports the development of a healthy spirit—an asset they said addresses the mental health and substance misuse needs in their communities. Hausserman’s analysis of how current members understand the organization’s historic commitment to “Mind, Body and Spirit” is helping YMCA members promote mental wellness across Greater Cleveland. One branch, for example, took the data and turned it into a complete initiative—transforming into a hub for mental wellness support by providing resources and a welcoming environment.
Along with working on projects for the YMCA, Hausserman also organizes CIN’s Innovators’ Monthly Meetups, designated spaces for collaboration and support among community builders in the area.
“My experience at CIN has been the most meaningful to me while at the Mandel School,” she said. “It has pushed me to grow and see myself and the work I want to do in a completely different perspective.”
In her spare time, Hausserman served as one of the Mandel Council’s Graduate Student Council Representatives as a way to advocate for her fellow students in various university-wide issues, and became its social media ambassador to promote the group’s events.
After graduation, Hausserman hopes to work at a nonprofit in Cleveland to continue doing community development and engagement similar to what she has done at CIN.
“I want to thank the Community Practice for Social Change professors for all of their encouragement and for making me into the practitioner that I am today,” she reflected. “I’m so happy to have made connections and formed relationships with such a diverse and passionate group of people.”
This story appeared in The Daily on May 6, 2022.