Kaplan promotes Brown School priority projects as Masters Research Fellow

Social Work; Students

Before she came to the Brown School, Rebecca Kaplan, MSW candidate ’17, worked at a non-profit agency and became interested in increasing the effectiveness of organizations.

Now, as a first-year MSW student focusing on management, a Masters Research Fellowship (MRF) in the Dean’s office has provided the perfect way to put her previous experience and her coursework into practice.

“It’s been really exciting to gain an inside awareness of how the school operates and at the same time engage in school-based research,” she said.

Kaplan was one of 35 students selected for the Brown School’s new Masters Research Fellowship program for the 2015-16 academic year, the first year they have been awarded. Applicants gain hands-on learning experience working directly with research centers and faculty.

The appointments are valued at approximately $5,000 per academic year through guaranteed part-time employment and coverage of the mandatory annual student health and wellness fee.

Kaplan’s fellowship experience has included:

  • Working on Brown School Grand Challenges in Social Work, a faculty book project.
  • Providing research support for an op-ed written by Dean Edward Lawlor about gun violence in the wake of terrorist shootings in San Bernadino, CA. The article appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • Researching ways Brown School faculty could participate in the calls-to-action proposed by the Ferguson Commission.
  • Working with Assistant Professor Carrie Pettus-Davis on incarceration and decarceration research to support potential stories for the Solutions Journalism Network.
  • Helping with the transition of the incoming Dean of the Brown School, Mary McKernan McKay.

“What appealed to me was having the opportunity to do more practical research,” said Kaplan, who wants to work in a management role for a non-profit. “It also helped me get to know the scope of work of the faculty and it’s been a great way to connect with supporters of the school” through its National Council.  The latter has provided plenty of networking opportunities as well.

“It’s work where I can see the impact, it’s a practical application for my skills,” she added.

Kathleen Robbins, the Brown School’s Chief of Staff, mentors Kaplan and a second fellow in the office, Jennifer Dickey, MSW/MPH candidate.

“They have been really helpful in working with all of us,” Robbins said, adding that she wanted make sure the fellows received a wide range of opportunities.

“We’ve tried to allow them ways to get involved with faculty across the disciplines,” she said.

The program has worked well, and so has Kaplan, she said.

“Every single product she has produced has exceeded my expectations. I really appreciate all the effort and the enthusiasm she brings to the position. She’s been a tremendous asset to our team.”