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Clair Brendel

Clair Brendel

Disaster program manager | American Red Cross | Class of 2015

She’s not just an alum of the School of Social Work.

Clair Brendel ('15) is also its biggest fan. 

Here’s the West Virginia-based Red Cross disaster program manager, who you’ll see in the video takes her work seriously:

“At the School of Social Work building on Nevada Street, I truly became the person and professional I am today, and I cannot think of Illinois without it. That building was, and I’m sure still is, full of students, professors and staff that could challenge you in ways others could not — by not only making you think with your head, but also your heart.

"The professors at the School of Social Work not only challenged us to learn, but to also take action. We were challenged to 'Be the change' and 'Be the good.' It was where I wound up after my shifts at Starbucks, where I met and bonded with my peers, where I was inspired by professors, where I learned the skills I use every day in my job with Red Cross Disaster Services, and where, in helping me to cross off a bucket list item — Professor Tonya Manselle smashed a cake in my face.

“Most importantly, the School of Social Work is the place on campus that felt like home.

"I remember in the lecture room at the end of the hall, just past the student lounge, in Professor Larrison’s SOCW 200 class, she asked for examples of why we wanted to be social workers. In a humbling response to our many exclamations of wanting to seek change and justice, she suggested that for some of us, we would become social workers because it would just feel like coming home, and she was right.

"As the host of the ideas, people and lessons that embodied the School of Social Work, my building also became a little bit of my home.”