President of Wayne State’s Association of Black Social Workers wins CSWE Master’s Fellowship

Michanda Gant (standing, third from right) with fellow members of the Association of Black Social Workers at "Elevate Their Voices."

M.S.W. student Michanda Gant, president of Wayne State’s Association of Black Social Workers and a member of the School of Social Work’s Social Justice Committee, has been awarded a 2018-19 Master’s Fellowship by the Council on Social Work Education’s Minority Fellowship Program.

Supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the fellowship is awarded annually to graduate social work students who are interested in providing mental health or substance use disorder service delivery to racial/ethnic minority populations. The fellowship, which includes a $6,500 stipend and a three-day training in Virginia this March, requires recipients to seek employment in this practice area for at least two years immediately following graduation.

Gant, who earned a B.S.W. at Wayne State in May, distinguished herself as an undergraduate social work student by working with campus leaders, community organizers and nonprofit organizations on a variety of social justice projects and initiatives. As a member of ABSW and Social Work’s Social Justice Committee, she worked on a yearlong initiative to influence public policy and lead community-based education and advocacy around water insecurity in Detroit and Flint – including the 2017 campus-base forum “Elevate Their Voices,” which earned ABSW a shared first place (with students from Saxion University of Applied Science in The Netherlands) in the 2018 Social Work Student Activism competition of Social Work Education: The International Journal. Gant also assisted in facilitating a round-table discussion addressing specific barriers impacting the success, graduation and retention of Black and Brown students at Wayne State, and supported initiatives to address current policies impacting DACA students and their right to equal access to education.

Gant, who will provide individual and group counseling this year during her field education placement with Motor City Center for Hope, plans after graduation to establish a private practice in Detroit helping disadvantaged women and children heal from trauma. She credits childhood experiences, such as providing outreach to the homeless in Cass Park with her grandfather and helping her disabled cousin during meal times, with instilling in her a passion for social justice advocacy. Her extensive volunteer experiences include providing support to survivors of domestic violence through HAVEN of Oakland County, facilitating grief groups for children through Sandcastles’ Grief Support Program, and playing youth baseball with individuals living with disabilities through the Miracle League of Michigan.

Gant says Wayne State’s urban mission has had a profound and positive influence on her education and career goals as a social worker.

“It’s a tool that helps prepare those of us who want to work in urban settings,” said Gant, who has been trained in the BABESWORLD total-systems approach to substance misuse prevention and is a member of the Addiction and Recovery Work Group of the Michigan Chapter of National Association of Social Workers. “Through our coursework and our student organizations, we are able to work directly with the populations we want to serve and connect with them as individuals, helping them overcome inequities and protect their rights and well-being.”

M.S.W. advisor Tamarie Willis praised Gant for prioritizing social justice advocacy within a busy schedule.

“Michanda expertly balances her job and family, with her full load of classes and field placement,” Willis said. “However, she also carries with her the responsibility to create social change in communities of color around issues of mental health and wellness. She embodies all the characteristics of a great social worker and represents the very best of Wayne State University.”

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