Mary Bunn, AM '05

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Associate Director, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights Social Worker, The Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture

“I learned about SSA from two alumni I worked with at a Chicago foundation, and their praise for the faculty and the program sounded almost too good to be true. I was ready to continue my education after earning my liberal arts degree from Indiana University, and working in Chicago and abroad for seven years. My friends were right about SSA, and now I can add my own rich experience at SSA to theirs.”

Ms. Bunn has traveled extensively, speaks several languages, and has studied and worked in many parts of the world. From Italy to Cambodia, Thailand to Iraq, and back to Chicago, her professional experiences have centered on the less fortunate, and her desire to help. “I knew that I wanted to work in an international setting, but I couldn’t envision where that would take me. I started out at SSA as an evening student while I was working full-time, and I liked the experience of going to school with other working professionals who brought new views to our discussions. In my second year, I shifted and went to the day program because I wanted to devote more time to learning. This was another new experience because most of my classmates had just completed their undergraduate work. I made friends in both programs.”

“SSA was just one good experience after another. My professors helped me to be more focused and, eventually, become a better clinician. They always challenged me to go to the next level, and if they could not answer a question on the spot, they found the answer or the resource in short order. It was such a rich experience. I was fully supported by the faculty in a group setting as well as one-on-one.”

“After finishing up at SSA, I got a fellowship to do work in Cambodia with local social workers who were in training to work with a population traumatized by war and government brutality. I was working in a very rural, impoverished area in a residential facility, with teen girls who had been rescued from sex trafficking. They wanted me to design programs for these girls, and for other situations. I had just graduated and finished my paper and I thought I was in over my professional head. I emailed Stan McCracken and asked for his advice, and he was wonderful in helping me, and providing me with the assurance that I could do this, and do it well. I have remained in contact with him and several others at SSA.”

Currently, Ms. Bunn works for the Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture. The Kovler Center is celebrating more than 20 years of empowering torture survivors, and helping them to begin their lives again, without fear. She credits her supervisor, Marianne Joyce, also a SSA graduate, with helping her to become a better clinician. “The best part of what I do is helping people rebuild their lives. Working one-on-one with clients has sort of a mom-and-pop feel to it. I have many positive experiences thanks to my SSA training…. My husband and young child fill out my life.”

“SSA is a special place that helped me hone my talents and expand my interests. I feel fortunate that I had the SSA experience.”