The power of partnering with faculty was made clear to Amy Rude ’07, M.S. ’11. While finishing her master’s degree in social work this past spring, Rude’s participation in a relief effort with the American Red Cross was made possible through intervention from her academic department.

Rude was able to help flood victims because of Judith Sevel, School of Social Work director of field education. Sevel is a Red Cross mental health disaster volunteer who headed to Mississippi and Tennessee with Rude.

Typically mental health workers must have their graduate degree and license, meaning students are unable to participate. Sevel arranged for expedited certification training and served as Rude’s supervisor.

“I was eager to put my training into practice,” Rude said, noting she expected it would be a couple years before she could obtain her license and be involved as a disaster mental health volunteer. She assisted at various shelters with other professionals as well.

“One really nice thing about the Red Cross is that although she was working primarily with me, because all of us were licensed she had the chance to work with other people too, giving her many more opportunities to interact with volunteers and people who were directly affected by the flooding,” Sevel said.

During the trip she and Rude were given the opportunity to move beyond the student and faculty relationship to form a friendship. “I never had Judith as a professor and really only talked to her once about my practicum placement,” Rude said. “I wasn’t worried about going because she was genuinely caring the first time I met her.”

Together the two comforted a strong-knit community dealing with great loss. Many moments impacted Rude, especially interacting and connecting with children.

Since graduating, Rude continues to work hard and is eager to continue helping others. “I am very grateful to the School of Social Work for giving me the opportunity to serve people affected by disaster,” she said.