Class Year: 2024
Degree Program: Dual Degree Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health
Concentrations: Community Practice for Social Change (MSW) and Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (MPH)
When Erika Kura started volunteering at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, she was already a busy young professional with her own digital marketing consulting business. She didn't realize then that this time outside the office would change her career trajectory—and, eventually, lead her to the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.
Starting as a face-to-face advocate at the center, Kura supported victims as emergency room staff collected evidence for sexual assault examination kits, listened to and assisted victims on the 24/7 hotline, engaged with policymakers at the Ohio Statehouse to secure funding, and publicly advocated for policy change on NPR, Science News Explores, WEWS News 5 Cleveland and more.
“I chose the Mandel School because I knew it was a top social work program in the United States,” she reflected. “And I wanted to pursue a dual degree in social work and public health specifically to focus on violence prevention work at a macro level.”
Kura said her favorite thing about the Mandel School is the feeling she gets when she walks through the doors.
“I feel like I belong and the professors genuinely care about their students,” she shared. “I also love the self-care room,” she added, discussing the Mandel School’s oasis where students can take time for themselves to decompress and calm their bodies with soothing activities.
This year, she is doing her field placement at the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking in Cleveland. She assists in policy advocacy that focuses on the prevention of human trafficking and helps with community coalition development, using her digital marketing expertise in her work to raise awareness of human trafficking both now, in January, during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and beyond.
In her free time, Kura serves as a board member at Ravenwood Health, a nonprofit trauma-informed mental health and addiction services agency, and is a member of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the American Public Health Association, and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research.
After she earns her degree next year, Kura hopes to continue doing policy work, consulting and, one day, lead an anti-sexual violence initiative.
This story appeared in The Huddle on Jan. 27, 2023.