Student Spotlight: Grace DiPierro

Grace DiPierro sitting in front of a baker's rack in a kitchen

Class Year: May 2024

Degree Program: MSW On-Campus

Concentration: Mental Health with Adults

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Field Education Organization: Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center in Cleveland, Ohio

Before beginning at Case Western Reserve University, what were you doing?

I started as a graduate student at CWRU right after completing my undergrad at the University of Dayton. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and immediately applied to CWRU for my MSW. 

Why did you choose CWRU/the Mandel School?

I chose the Mandel School because their MSW program was exactly what I wanted for myself and my future career. The Mandel School has offered me such unique and rewarding experiences both in and out of the classroom that I’m not sure I could get anywhere else! I am also a Survivor Link + Public Health AmeriCorps Fellow.

Describe your field education practicum experience and any work/projects you have done.

My first-year field experience was at Holding Space Psychotherapy, a private practice that offers mental health and counseling services. I observed therapists for a few months before taking on my own caseload of clients. I worked with clients struggling with a range of mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, phobias and more. 

For my second field experience I am working at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center as an ambulatory/outpatient social worker.

What are you doing in field that you’re planning to bring with you into your career?

I hope to keep developing my ability to engage with clients in a meaningful way. I also hope to have a job that allows me to talk to people every day and get to know them personally. I think getting to know the whole person is an important part of good social work because it reminds us that while our clients are coming to us for help, they are more than their problems. 

What is something you have learned during your practicum that you have found to be the most helpful in your social work journey?

Having a strong positive relationship with a client is sometimes more important than anything you’ll ever say or do. Clients respond well when they have good rapport with their social worker so it can't be overlooked.

Who is someone you met during your field education that will change the way you practice?

My supervisor at my first-year field placement had a big influence on the way I practice. She challenged me to think more long-term with clients. It can sometimes feel like you want to rush through therapy and help them get better as fast as possible, but the process of therapy takes time and patience. I learned that progress can’t be rushed, each client gets there in their own time!

Describe any extracurricular activities you're involved with on- or off-campus.

I am involved in the Mandel Council as the director of programming and I have volunteered at CWRU’s Student Run Health Clinic. I am also involved in research at the Mandel School where I contributed to a project about the worries and burden experienced by caregivers for youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What are you most looking forward to this semester?

I am excited to dive into the classes that are geared toward my concentration, which is Mental Health with Adults. I am curious to see how my classroom learning overlaps with my field placement as well! 

What do you hope to do with your degree?

I hope to use my degree and license as a mental health therapist or a medical social worker after graduation.

What is your favorite thing about CWRU/the Mandel School?

I love the community of people that I get to work with. I enjoy being surrounded by people who care just as much about social work as I do.

What is your favorite thing about Cleveland?

I love that there are always fun things going on in Cleveland, like art shows, concerts, food festivals and more! 

Read more about DiPierro's poster presentation at the NASW Ohio Chapter’s annual conference in Nov. 2023.