Social Work Spotlight: Meet Substance Use Research Team Research Assistant Emily Pasman

Emily Pasman smilingFor Emily Pasman, LLMSW, working as a graduate research assistant with the Substance Use Research Team at the Center for Social Work Research allows her to pursue her passion of improving the lives of local Detroiters coping with substance use disorders. The Substance Use Research Team works closely with state and community partners to develop and refine substance use treatment and prevention services. Their work is guided by a socioecologic framework and recognizes that treatment and prevention needs must be understood in the context of families, communities, and the larger society. Emily is also working to advance her career as a second year PhD Social Work student with a focus on substance use disorder recovery. Of particular interest to Emily are youth treatment initiatives and programs led and implemented by peers with lived experience.

Why did you choose to work at WSU?

I chose to work and learn at Wayne State because of the faculty who have dedicated their careers to substance use prevention, treatment and recovery research. Their work excites and inspires me. I feel so lucky to be a part of a community that is doing such important work to help people living with and affected by substance use disorders.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

My favorite thing about my job is getting to contribute to projects that I am really passionate about. I enjoy my work because I am constantly pushed to learn and think in new ways about social issues and innovative approaches to solving them. I also love the supportive, collaborative environment where I get to learn something from my coworkers every day.

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

During my undergraduate and MSW program, I learned many research skills that have served me well, including how to read scientific literature, apply theory in research, research designs and statistics. Just as important, was what I learned about time management, how to prioritize tasks, the importance of work/life balance and how to ask for help when I need it.

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

The biggest mistake I made was being a perfectionist and worrying too much about grades - this habit runs deep and I am still working on it! I wish I could have relaxed and enjoyed learning a little bit more. To my disappointment, none of my employers has ever asked me about my GPA!

How do you empower social change in your community?

I enjoy working in my community to address the stigma that surrounds substance use and addiction. I have worked with a number of groups including Families Against Narcotics, Project VOX, and my local substance use prevention coalition.

Do you have any advice for incoming students?

Take advantage of the opportunities that are available to you. If something sounds interesting or exciting, go for it! Ask what you can do to help or how you can be involved. Don't be afraid of asking questions or making mistakes. This is such an exciting time - the possibilities are endless!

How can the community learn more about research taking place in the School?

Visit our Center for Social Work Research and Center for Behavioral Health and Justice for information on how faculty, staff and students partner with local organizations to conduct research that benefits the community, cultural humility and advances social justice.

View more Social Work Warrior profiles.

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