Mary Morr '12

MaryMorr.jpgJOB TITLE: Community outreach coordinator

ORGANIZATION: Denver Public Schools/GEAR UP

LOCATION: Denver, Colorado

GRADUATE DEGREE: M.S.W., University of Wisconsin-Madison

What was your first position after college? After graduating, I went directly to pursue a master’s degree in social work. I knew that I wanted a career tackling social issues and serving marginalized and oppressed populations. With my Trinity credentials, I was accepted into all three schools I applied to and was even offered a scholarship at the top school of social work in the country. I decided to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison because of the program’s strong emphasis on issues relating to children. After completing my master’s in social work, I accepted a position as a community outreach coordinator for Denver Public Schools. I work under GEAR UP–a grant aimed at increasing college enrollment among low-income students–to analyze and address school, family, and community-level barriers to success for disadvantaged students.

What aspects of your Trinity experience have been important to advancing your career or graduate school experience? For me, the two most helpful parts of Trinity’s liberal arts education were that it was interdisciplinary and that it included Community Learning. Graduating from an interdisciplinary major gave me a broad perspective on the work I that I do. I have an appreciation for the fact that real-world problems do not exist in a vacuum and that finding solutions requires examining multiple perspectives and collaborating with a variety of stakeholders. Community Learning helped me shape my career goals by giving me the opportunity to experiment with multiple potential jobs as an undergraduate. By working in several different types of positions, I was able to gain a greater sense of my interests and skills. As a result, I feel more confident that the career path I am pursuing is both one that I will find fulfilling and one in which I can be impactful.

What advice would you give to Trinity students to prepare for a position in your field? Students who hope to pursue a career in public policy need a broad understanding of the way policy and practice actually work in the United States. Simply learning theories is not enough, as social, cultural, and political factors will always make things more complicated. My advice would be for students to read the news daily and take as many Community Learning classes as possible to gain this real-world perspective.

What is the biggest misconception about your field? Many students think that the public policy and law major is only for people interested in attending law school after graduating from Trinity. At no point did I ever have an interest in law school, but I still found the major to be perfectly suited to my academic and career goals. Policy affects everything that happens in our country, and the opportunities that can arise from a public policy and law degree are extremely expansive.