Four exemplary Brown School students have been chosen to represent their class as Brown School Marshals for 2023: Selection is an honor. Students are nominated by faculty and other students for commitment to their scholarship, passion in their practica, and contributions to the school community.
Traditionally, student marshals have been tasked with carrying the degree banners and leading their respective classes into the Brown School Recognition Ceremony.
Ahead of the big day, the student marshals reflect on their journeys and share their favorite memories of the Brown School and what comes next for these changemakers.
Master of Social Work Marshal: Connie Flachs
Concentration: Mental Health
Connie Flachs believes positive impact comes through connection – to oneself, to others, and to the communities we live in. Her belief was reflected in her activities during her time at the Brown School.
At WashU, Flachs was a mentee and mentor of Peer2Peer Program. Outside of the university, she was involved with several organizations including the Jewish Community Relations Council, Big Muddy Dance Company, and Seed St. Louis.
She completed practica with two organizations: the WashU School of Medicine in a psychiatry lab focused on eating disorders research, and the St. Louis VA on the Suicide Prevention Team.
She’ll miss the beauty of the campus and the comradery with her classmates.
“I’ll miss the gorgeous campus and all the native plant landscaping! It was such a treat to watch the campus shift throughout the seasons. I’ll also miss the regular and serendipitous contact with my peers and getting to learn about their interests and passions.”
When asked who at the Brown School she would like to thank, Flachs struggled to distill her gratitude but singled out PhD student and TA Christopher Weatherly for his humor, career advice, and thoughtfulness, and Lecturer Molly Pearson for their liberatory approach to social work and commitment to providing high-quality classroom experiences.
She added: “And, obviously, a huge thanks to my friends at the Brown school who listened to countless hours of venting, shared meals, co-worked, and went through this journey alongside me.”
After graduation, Flachs plans to stay in St. Louis and work as a program coordinator for Body U Teens, a new program that will harness technology and community partnerships to increase access to care for young people in Missouri with eating disorders.
Master of Public Health Marshal: Tremayne Watterson
Specialization: Epidemiology/ Biostatistics
Tremayne Watterson is passionate about data analysis and collection and helping marginalized populations. His post-graduation plans involve a move to Charlotte, North Carolina, and a goal of further developing his data skills to make a positive impact.
“My goal is to use the skills that I have developed and cultivated here at the Brown School to put data beside the real-life stories of the people that are most marginalized in our communities,” he said.
During his time at the Brown School, Watterson worked as a research clinical coordinator in the Division of Infectious Diseases at WashU’s School of Medicine. He was also a policy scholar and a member of Mi Gente, a Latine student group at the Brown School. Connections with classmates is what he will miss most about his time at the Brown School.
“My classmates brought such a varied range of lived experiences, dreams, and ideas that really furthered my growth as not only a student but as a person,” he said.
Master of Social Policy Marshal: Jin Lyu
On the cusp of 40, Jin Lyu left her work in Shanghai, China, to pursue a new adventure as a master of social policy student at the Brown School. She is thankful for the support she received as she navigated being separated from her family, adjusting to a new culture and language, balancing her studies, and caring for her eight-year-old son on her own, as her husband remained in Shanghai.
“It’s not always easy to admit vulnerability, but the Brown School community made it possible for me to ask for help without feeling ashamed or awkward. The faculty, staff, and classmates tried their best to make me feel comfortable.”
In particular, she was impressed with the outreach and understanding shown to her eight-year-old son, who occasionally accompanied her to class, and waited outside the classroom.
“The Brown School community welcomed him with open arms,” she said. “My classmates came to say hi to him, brought snacks and candies to him, and offered us a ride after night class. The inclusive and supportive environment of the Brown School community, which embraced me and my son wholeheartedly, is the most unforgettable memory that I will always treasure and miss deeply.”
During her time at the Brown School, Lyu was the MSP representative on the Student Coordinating Council (SCC).
After graduation, Lyu will return to China for a summer internship. Afterward, she plans on returning to the Brown School and continuing her studies as an MSW/MSP dual degree program student with a focus on mental health.
Lyu is grateful for everyone who formed her graduate school experience: “Professors and advisors who spent time helping me, who encouraged me to start with “Baby Step”, who told me it’s strong instead of weak to show my vulnerability with hugs.” Additionally, she is thankful to her classmates who, “rushed to me after class to tell me that I had done a very good job, who paused in the group discussion to ask me if we were on the same page—I love you all.”
Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health Dual Degree Marshal: Mara McKown
MSW-Health Concentration and MPH-Epidemiology and Biostatistics Specialization
The Brown School experience has Mara McKown thinking about how structures and systems affect health and exploring social epidemiology.
A native Californian, Mara completed practicums with the following organizations: Epworth’s Youth Emergency Shelter, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Global Health Center, and St. Louis Integrated Health Network.
While at the Brown School, Mara did research with both the Social System Design Lab under its director and Assistant Professor of Practice Ellis Ballard, and the Global Research on Inclusion and Disability team with Associate Professor Jean-Francois Trani. Mara also served as the Dual Degree representative on the Brown School Student Coordinating Council (SCC) and as one of the lead mentors for the Peer-to-Peer mentoring program.
“I think what I will miss most is being in a space with friends as we all explore our interests and have conversations about topics that interest us. Also, just all the amazing supportive people I have met and get to call friends,” Mara said.
Mara would like to thank all the other dual MPH/MSW students: “I would not have made it here without you all.” Mara would also like to thank all those who gave little daily bits of encouragement, especially during the past year.