Student Spotlight: Ariana Wilin

Ariana Wilin Headshot

Class Year: 2022

Degree program: MSW, with a concentration in Community Practice for Social Change

After the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd—and the powerful social justice movement that followed beginning in the summer of 2020—Ariana Wilin felt called to do more in the fight for racial justice, specifically within the context of the U.S. criminal justice system. 

That drive led her to enroll in the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences’ Master of Social Work program. There, she has a concentration in Community Practice for Social Change—a path of study ideal for students passionate about creating systems-wide social change.

She also chose to do her field education at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio, a nonprofit organization that advocates for individual civil rights. In this role, one of Wilin’s main responsibilities is to help facilitate Campus Action Teams (CATs) at five universities throughout southern Ohio. An extension of the ACLU of Ohio’s statewide Action Team, CATs aim to engage students in mobilizing for social justice in and around their campus communities. 

“CATs are open to any student enrolled in a college or university in Ohio seeking to protect and expand civil rights and liberties through community organizing and development,” Wilin explained. 

She is also helping to plan the first statewide CAT conference in Athens, Ohio, on April 2.

Wilin has always been interested in the field of social work—before beginning classes at the Mandel School, she was a behavioral health specialist at the Centers for Families and Children, linking clients struggling with mental illness and addiction to resources in the community, and advocating for housing, Social Security and transportation.

Although being a full-time student takes up much of her time, Wilin still tries to stay connected to similar organizing efforts across various policy areas in Northeast Ohio. She also serves as the director of finance for the Mandel Council, which works to promote the interests of the student body, cultivate community, and strengthen the relationships among the students, faculty, staff and school administration.

“Being in my final semester at CWRU is bittersweet,” she reflected. “But I am looking forward to graduating and beginning the next phase of my career as a community practice social worker.”

This story appeared in The Huddle on Feb. 25, 2022.