First-year MSW candidate Alexandra Rabasco has been awarded a Rappaport Institute Public Policy Fellowship for the upcoming summer, where she will work directly with Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders.
Rabasco is the first ever BC Social Work student to win this prestigious fellowship, which is designed to encourage “graduate students to spend part of their careers in public service through a paid, 10-week summer internship in key state and local agencies in the Greater Boston area.” The Rappaport Institute is housed at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
“Winning a Rappaport Fellowship is a huge accomplishment for Alex, and for the school,” says Professor Tiziana Dearing. “Social Work is at the heart of solving problems for vulnerable populations, and that should include the public policy sphere. This fellowship is not only a testimony to her caliber as a student, but also a recognition of social work in general. I couldn’t be more happy for her, or more proud to have a social worker flying the flag in this community of scholars.”
“I’m grateful to be a part of something where I can participate in critical decision-making processes,” adds Rabasco. “As a graduate student, you’re certainly exposed to real world advice in the classroom, but this is an opportunity to really be in the muck of it.”
In Rabasco’s case, ‘the muck of it’ is likely to surround prescription drug abuse, as she will work closely with Sudders’ office and its role heading Governor Charlie Baker’s newly convened Opioid Working Group. According to data from the State House, opioid abuse is a growing problem in the Commonwealth; accidental overdoses from prescription drugs were up 46 percent in 2013 from the previous year. The 16-member working group, which includes Attorney General Maura Healey, will “hold public meetings, assess the resources devoted to the problem, and submit specific, targeted, and tangible recommendations,” reports the Boston Globe.
In addition to providing on-the-ground training, the Rappaport Fellowship offers a unique opportunity for students from various schools around the city to share ideas, and pursue collaborative initiatives to build a better City of Boston. Rabasco is looking forward to meeting her cohort, which will comprise 10-12 students, and begin to build upon her existing networks.
Rabasco is hopeful that the real life experience she gains in Sudders’ office will complement the “overwhelming amount of opportunities” already afforded to her during her time at BCSSW. After graduation in 2016, she foresees going to law school, followed by a career that connects her interests in mental health and criminal justice; she says that BCSSW has already played a major role in helping her to pursue opportunities she wouldn’t have thought were possible in the past.
“BC Social Work is so different from any other programs that I looked into, and I’m so glad I decided to come here,” Rabasco explains. “The school places a huge importance on leadership qualities, social innovation, and social transformation, and these will all serve as major assets as I move forward in my career.”