Social Work Spotlight: Meet Information Specialist Jessica Best

Jessica Best headshotAdvancing social justice has been a common thread throughout Jessica Best’s career. Prior to earning her MSW from Wayne State in 2018, Jessica worked in youth-led social justice programming at the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion and the University of Michigan’s Community Scholars Program. After completing her graduate degree, Jessica joined the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice (CBHJ) and currently serves as their information specialist communicating key CBHJ findings, policy impacts, and areas of reform to stakeholders through development of reports, presentations, social media and website content. Jessica also holds a BA in Psychology and Linguistics from the University of Michigan.

Why did you choose to work at WSU?

A visit to a professor’s office hours turned into a job after graduation! I hadn’t planned on working at WSU, but am incredibly grateful for the opportunity I have been given to advance my career in the CBHJ.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

My favorite thing about my job is how much I learn every day. Both the criminal/legal and behavioral health systems are very complex, and every community is different. Working in research involving the intersection of criminal/legal and behavioral health systems in a variety of Michigan’s communities, I have learned so much about how these systems work and the impacts they have on individuals.

How did your education prepare you for what you are doing today?

My MSW prepared me for this job in many ways—I apply the knowledge and skills I gained through my MSW Innovations in Community and Policy concentration daily. It allowed me to understand macro systems and how they can work together to help or hinder communities. Navigating and improving those complex systems through best and innovative practices is at the heart of the CBHJ mission.

What's one of the biggest mistakes you made as a student?

As an undergraduate student, the biggest mistake I made was in building relationships with only one of my professors. As a graduate student, I put effort into speaking up in class and meeting with my professors and it made a big difference in my experience.

Do you have any advice for incoming students?

My advice for incoming students is to prioritize the reading listed in your course syllabi (try to do all the reading as often as possible). Also, raise your hand and ask questions when you have them.

Do you have any advice for graduating students and alumni?

My advice to graduating students and alumni is to spend time thinking about your work style and communication style—this can help you work with intention and contribute to teamwork in a productive and valuable way.

What is something others may not know about you?

During warmer months, I can often be found around Belle Isle watching the sunset from my inflatable kayak.

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