Rachel Reule ‘15

When looking at colleges as a high school student, Rachel Reule ’15 had a good idea of what she was looking for. And Trinity met those criteria.  

“I knew that I wanted to have the college experience, a high-quality education, while continuing to reside at home, which was Crestwood, Ill.,” she said. “I also heard about Trinity’s soccer program and wanted to continue playing soccer at a collegiate level under Coach Josh Lenarz.” 

She also knew she wanted to go into a helping profession of some sort, and Trinity’s Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree answered that need, too. “It came naturally to me because I have always been passionate, a good listener, and was reliable towards the people that I cared about within my life,” she said. “Social work ended up being the perfect direction for me to go.”  

Reule said the Social Work Department staff and professors, particularly Cini Bretzlaff-Holstein, associate professor of social work and department chair, and Lisa Doot Abinoja, assistant professor of social work, played a key role during her time at Trinity. “They assisted, supported, and encouraged me during major transitions within my young life especially during times of uncertainty or feeling overwhelmed.”  

Other members of the Trinity community had an important impact on her as well, including Dr. Rose Malinowski; Doug Fulmer, LWCS; Dr. Mackenzi Huyser, now the executive director of Chicago Semester; Brad Breems, professor of sociology emeritus; and Mary Lynn Colosimo, professor of psychology emerita. “I will forever remember their classes and their dedication to the field. Their efforts have left a lasting impact on my education and my foundation of being a social worker,” she said.  

After graduating from Trinity, Reule earned a master’s degree in social work from Dominican University, and she currently holds two positions. She works full-time as a high school social worker at UCAN Academy High School, a therapeutic day school on the west side of Chicago. “I am responsible for a case load of about 18 high school level students with Individual Education Plans due to their special education needs because of learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, emotional disability, and/or intellectual disabilities.” Students are given an assigned number of weekly minutes that need to be serviced through social work sessions. “Many of our students have been trauma exposed and often experience crisis situations, triggers, and/or escalations when in the school building. As the social worker, you assist the classroom and other staff in case management services, deescalating students, writing safety and behavior plans as needed, and providing education around mental health conditions that students are experiencing or diagnosed with.” 

After obtaining her clinical license, Reule also started a part-time position at a private practice office, where she provides therapy services to a variety of clients. “It has been a humbling experience thus far to assist people in their healing process,” she said.  

Reule said Trinity has prepared her well for her current work. “The Social Work Department imbedded in me the importance of being a flexible, seasoned professional at all times, utilizing a strengths-based perspective along with other evidenced based practices to provide your best abilities and services for your clients,” she said. “They have instilled the importance of always having effective self-care practices, as well as affirming boundaries and professional standards and ethics, no matter how comfortable a client is with you. Social workers often assist the vulnerable–if not the most vulnerable populations. So, it is essential to always have that in mind.”