CHC Alumni Spotlight: Sharmayne Schaffer

Written by Garrett Graber, English MA Student and WRC Consultant


Sharmayne Schaffer, a member of the CHC’s first cohort, graduated magna cum laude from Case Western Reserve University in May 2018. She double majored in Women’s and Gender Studies and Sociology, and is currently working as a Social Service Worker for Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services. I had a chance to talk to Sharmayne about her experience with the Cleveland Humanities Collaborative and about her future plans.

Sharmayne first heard about the CHC at Cuyahoga Community College through Phi Theta Kappa, a prestigious honor society for two-year college students. She viewed the CHC as a great opportunity, and she was particularly drawn to the social justice aspect of the program.

Sharmayne was highly active during her time at Case Western Reserve, and took advantage of several opportunities the CHC program had to offer. Motivated by her interest in social justice, she conducted a study on media portrayals of crack-addicted black and white mothers. The results of the study were published in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Summer 2018 art/sci magazine.

Sharmayne also had the opportunity to study abroad in Amsterdam through CWRU’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, utilizing her research award from the CHC program. This opportunity really shaped her outlook on her own personal career goals, especially when she had the chance to talk with many social workers on this trip.

In Sharmayne’s current position as a Social Service Worker, she advocates for children on a daily basis. She told me her background in both Women’s and Gender Studies and Sociology were crucial in helping her land her dream job. Her humanities background, she says, has helped her to better understand society through the analytical lenses of race, class, and gender. She believes this will allow her to grow and develop as a social worker.

When asked about what advice she would give to the next cohort of Cleveland Humanities Collaborative students, she said new students should take advantage of resources like the Writing Resource Center, and should not be afraid to ask for help from advisors in the program. Working with advisors and administrators and using these resources, she said, were invaluable to her success. She hopes the CHC will continue to grow in future years so the program can reach more non-traditional students like her.

Congratulations to Sharmayne on her current and future success!