Building blocks of support
Marjorie "Leora" Bowden '65
Clinical social worker and research project coordinator,
University of Michigan Hospital
Major: social work
Growing up in Elkhart, Ind., Leora graduated high school with a class of 500 students. She found the small size of Bluffton very appealing. Her decision to go to college was influenced by Marvin Dirks, a 1959 Bluffton graduate and the youth group leader at Leora's church. It was through his recommendations that Leora decided to visit Bluffton's campus.
Finding a calling at camp.
Leora had the opportunity to spend her summers working with children at Camp Friedenswald and Trail Blazers, a Fresh Air Camp in New Jersey. "Growing up, I never had the chance to go to camp so I took the opportunity to work as a camp counselor," she says. "I gained a much better understanding of children." Her experiences at camp reaffirmed her decision to study social work so she could work with people.
Leora's extensive career at the University of Michigan began when she entered the graduate program in 1964. Her passion for working with those seriously injured developed during a placement in the burn unit at the University of Michigan Hospital. Working with severely burned children and their families introduced Leora to what life is like for those with illness or injuries. She became dedicated to teaching people coping skills that would help keep them from a downward spiral and counteract the development of destructive patterns and behaviors. "In social work, there are many opportunities to help people in incremental steps get through one experience and to teach people by giving them the blocks to build on," she says. "That is what a Bluffton education did for me; it gave me some important blocks to build on, and I built my entire career on those blocks."
Reaching out to others.
Through social work, Leora has pursued a myriad of unique opportunities, from establishing her own private practice to clinical, administrative and research practice within a hospital setting. She currently works with a team of medical professionals on cutting-edge medicine in brain stimulation. They are studying the effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) or deep brain stimulation on depression. "It is very exciting to work in the area of testing new interventions that can provide treatment options for individuals with major depression," she says
Pots and Pans.
While at Bluffton, one of Leora's friends, Mary (Smucker '65) Conrad, the daughter of social work professor Carl Smucker, would invite a group of young women to her home behind Ropp Hall to make their own meals from time to time. Leora still enjoys cooking in her spare time.