Student Spotlight: Harley French Rubin

Harley French Rubin headshot

Class Year: May 2024

Degree Program: MSW On-Campus

ConcentrationIndividualized Path of Study: Policy and Direct Practice with the Transgender and Gender Diverse Population

Hometown: Fairfield, Connecticut (but I lived in Baltimore, Maryland for the past six years and care deeply for that city too!)

Field Education Organization: Case Western Reserve University's LGBT Center in Cleveland, Ohio

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

I went to Maryland Institute College of Art for undergrad, majoring in general arts with minors in politics and sustainability. After school, I found myself burnt out on art, while facing a very competitive field, and I worked as a grocer, barista and assistant middle school English teacher.

Why did you choose CWRU/the Mandel School?

I chose CWRU for a few reasons. I was drawn to the Individualized Path of Study option because of my specific interests, and when I visited the school, the experience was tailored to my interests. Additionally, I wanted to be close to my partner's family! The financial consideration was also important to me.

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

My field practicum is based around supporting the CWRU LGBTQ+ student population and advocating for our population on campus. I have been working in community engagement and program development, co-facilitating multiple campus events on sex education and LGBTQ+ holidays. I created and facilitated a number of events, namely Lunch Gay Buddies Table (a weekly social space), Parent Space (a monthly support space for staff and faculty who are parents of trans children), and Topix (a monthly presentation and discussion on prevalent LGBTQ+ community topics.) I co-facilitate workshops and trainings for faculty and staff, including the Pronouns Workshop and Trans Ally 101. I am also involved in campus policy research around transgender student healthcare access and upcoming anti-trans legislation that may impact higher education.

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

As a trans person I am hoping to spend my career dedicated to working with trans and LGBQ+ people, so much of my field practicum will inform my future career. The experiences I've had learning to support and advocate for the LGBTQ+ population have been very important to me.

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

This field placement has expanded my idea of what a social work career can be. I have learned that a casual social event like Lunch Gay Buddies Table or the LGBTQ+ Grad Student Mixer can significantly impact a student's sense of belonging to our community. I learned a lot about program development and promotion/marketing that might not be considered social work at first glance. I have also discovered my passion for public policy, which I hope to use in tandem with direct work in my career.

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

The past director of the LGBT Center, Harry Hawkins, provided me with invaluable career and professional advice based on his experiences. His career track in counseling, political lobbying and then in student affairs in higher education at CWRU broadened my personal career horizons too.

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

Recently, I volunteered at the Student Run Health Clinic, and it was a wonderful experience. I am volunteering again soon and joining the outreach committee. I am also hoping to join the Mandel Council next year and am a very active member of the Cleveland Jewish Collective.

What are you most looking forward to this semester?

The events that I am developing and facilitating at my field practicum, the LGBT Center of CWRU!

What do you hope to do with your degree?

I have a lot of different career goals and interests, all related to my main interest of working with and for the transgender population. I want to spend time working in public policy research and lobbying. I also want to experience counseling and clinical practice. I am very interested in writing gender-affirming surgery letters for insurance, and helping to navigate insurance and advocate for insurance reforms. I want to increase access to gender-affirming healthcare in any way I can.

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

The LGBT Center❣️

What is your favorite thing about Cleveland?

Pierogies, the Grog Shop, and the area I live in.