Posted May 8, 2023

From classroom to community: Social work and criminal justice senior lands role with nonprofit fighting homelessness

Temple senior Grace Ratkey heads to Boston nonprofit to help unhoused people move from the streets and shelters to a home. 

Grace Ratkey holding a sign that says My big future: Ending homelessness
Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenberg

Name: Grace Ratkey 
Degree: BA, Social work and criminal justice 
College: College of Public Health  
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio 
Graduation year: 2023 

Big Future: Helping unhoused people as a case manager at Pine Street Inn, the largest homeless services provider in New England. 

Why Temple: As a high school senior in Ohio, Grace Ratkey, CPH '23, knew she wanted to go to a university in a big city out of state, but she only began to consider Temple seriously after she was accepted into the Honors Program. Grace was surprised by how much she fell in love with Temple’s campus during her tour. It was the only school she saw that was in the city but felt like its own campus. Grace had some reservations about Temple’s size, but her dad reassured her that she would “find her people” even though it was a large school. “He was right. I’m very happy with my choice,” Grace said.  

Impactful internships: Grace started college knowing she wanted to study social work, and soon accumulated enough credits to upgrade her criminal justice minor to a major. During the pandemic, Grace had the opportunity to work remotely with Professor of Criminal Justice Caterina Roman on a research project analyzing street camera footage after a drug takedown in Kensington. For her social work internship, Grace later worked under the restorative justice coordinator in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office to help victims of crime. These diverse work experiences gave her a solid foundation for her new job as a case manager at Boston’s Pine Street Inn. 

Philly life: Grace has really gotten to know Philadelphia during her time at Temple, from commuting to her internship near City Hall to going to museums, restaurants and happy hours with her friends. She loves it so much she’s considering returning for graduate school in the future.

Temple Made moment: Grace felt intimidated about joining Alpha Delta Mu, the social work Honors society, as a first-year student, but the tight-knit community turned out to be where she made some of her best friends. It helped her build connections with her social work peers and enhanced her academic life. Not only did Grace thrive personally and professionally in the group, she served for two terms as its vice president.

Hootable: “My first-year Youth and Crime class with Caterina Roman opened my eyes to why people commit crimes and led me to merge social work with criminal justice studies. During my internship with the District Attorney’s Office, I used what I learned at Temple to help clients in the Victims Services Unit. Temple had taught me how to present myself professionally as a social worker and how to track cases through the court system. This meant I was able to provide support to people who had just experienced trauma and connect them with the resources they needed. This was an impactful hands-on learning experience for me.” 

- Wendy Ramunno