Student Spotlight: Marina Giannirakis

Marina Giannirakis headshot

Class Year: August 2025

Degree Program: MSW Intensive Weekend

ConcentrationMental Health with Adults

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Field Education OrganizationCase Western Reserve University's Flora Stone Mather Center for Women in Cleveland, Ohio

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

Previous to working at CWRU and attending the Mandel School, I was working for the Journey Center for Safety and Healing providing advocacy services to child survivors of sexual abuse and families escaping domestic violence. 

Why did you choose CWRU/the Mandel School?

There are wonderful faculty and staff here as well as a large focus on working with individuals who have experienced trauma. 

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

I am currently participating in an employment-based field practicum at the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women. I am the current confidential advocate for students at CWRU. In my role I am responsible for providing support and advocacy to all students who have experienced any form of interpersonal violence, including sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and harassment. I help connect and refer students to community and campus resources, orient them to university systems and policies, as well as criminal and civil systems, and safety plan with all students.

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

Revamping our assessment and evaluation forms for student clients. I am excited to create more inclusive and equitable assessment tools to better support students while also gaining valuable information about survivors and perpetrators to better prevent violence and the recurring of violence in the future. 

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

I have translated my classroom learning into practice at my practicum site. Communication is key when advocating for and with student survivors. I have taken a lot of the tips and tricks from my course readings about working with individuals and families and have incorporated that into my appointments with students. It is something I will continue to incorporate and take with me on my social work journey.

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

Julianne Foster is my field faculty advisor and she has been extremely helpful in navigating the process. She has been supportive and a valuable mentor in showing how direct practice and macro practice can overlap and influence each other. This has helped me immensely in my current role. 

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

I am on the board of the nonprofit, Writers in Residence. They teach creative writing to youth who are incarcerated to empower their voices and assist in their reentry into society. One of my classmates from John Carroll University (where I received my bachelor's degree) founded the organization after working with students at the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center.

I am also on the governing council of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP). SHECP encourages the study of poverty as a complex social problem, by expanding and improving educational opportunities for college students in a wide range of disciplines and career trajectories.

What are you most looking forward to this semester?

Finishing the Trauma and the Brain Training Series. Featuring a guided reading of Dr. Bruce Perry's The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, each month we cover one book chapter using facilitated discussion, case review and skills application. I have loved our discussions!

What do you hope to do with your degree?

Continue supporting survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Additionally, providing clinical therapy to young women with hereditary cancer diagnoses. 

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

The wonderful staff and students. 

What is your favorite thing about Cleveland?

The Cavaliers!!!