Susanna Curry, the UChicago School of Social Service Administration's and Chapin Hall's joint Harold Richman Postdoctoral Fellow for 2016-18, has found her appointment a perfect fit for her scholarly interests in housing instability and homelessness among youth, particularly those who have been part of the child welfare system.
She is helping supervise in-depth interviews done by field researchers for "Voices of Youth Count," a first-of-its-kind national effort aimed at ending youth homelessness. Through the study, researchers at Chapin Hall are working with 22 communities across the country. Her mentor is SSA Associate Professor Gina Miranda Samuels.
"We are looking at the incidence and prevalence of runaway and unaccompanied youth homelessness, talking to service providers, and engaging multiple methods to better understand trajectories in and out of unstable housing among youth," says Curry, who will help analyze the data from the interviews.
"I'm learning more about how we can use integrated methodologies to tell a story that will help practitioners and policy makers better understand the problem from multiple perspectives and create meaningful change," she says.
Curry received her PhD in 2016 in social welfare from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she also received an MSW in 2011. She received her BA in 2007 from Earlham College.
"I was attracted to SSA and Chapin Hall because of the innovative and actionable research being conducted here," she says. Curry’s own research looks at topics related to childhood adversity, the transition to adulthood, and risk of housing instability. She has published on topics such as the influence of policy in the youth’s attitudes towards self-sufficiency and their experiences with transitional housing.
The Harold Richman Postdoctoral Fellowship was established to support outstanding scholars interested in applied research careers focusing on child, youth, and family well-being. Richman, who died in 2009, was the Hermon Dunlap Smith Professor Emeritus and former Dean (1969-78) at SSA. He also served as the founding director of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
The voices of parents and community members need to be taken seriously by researchers as they understand the transformation of urban schools, contends newly appointed School of Social Service Administration postdoctoral fellow Eve Ewing.
"The public policy decisions are often made from the perspective of what is efficient, but what I look at is the reality of what parents and community members feel," says Ewing, a native of Chicago and a Chicago Public Schools graduate. "Those perspectives are evidence. They are data we can use as researchers," adds Ewing who studied the impact of the recent wave of public school closures in Chicago, the largest in US history, as part of her research for her dissertation, which she is turning into a book.
Ewing is a Provost's Career Enhancement Postdoctoral Fellow during 2016-18, only one of three awarded that year throughout the University of Chicago. She will work under the mentorship of SSA Professor Charles Payne and will then begin a faculty appointment as an Assistant Professor in 2018-19.
She joins SSA from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she received a doctorate in 2016 and studied under such luminaries as William Julius Wilson and Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot. She received an AB in English language and literature from UChicago in 2008, an MAT in elementary education from Dominican University in 2009, and an EdM in education policy and management in 2013. She was a middle school teacher in the Chicago Public Schools from 2008 to 2011.
She has also published poetry as well as pieces in major magazines, including "We Shall Not Be Moved: A Hunger Strike, Education, and Housing in Chicago" in The New Yorker, which chronicled the protest parents and community members launched against the proposed closing of Dyett High School in Bronzeville.
She says she looks forward to being part of interdisciplinary atmosphere of SSA. "Education is not a discipline, it is a field," says Ewing, a sociologist. "I look forward to working with social workers, psychologists, anthropologists, and others who are concerned about the welfare of young people."