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Coming Full Circle: Returning to California to Join CSUSM’s Social Work Program

By David Ogul

Cal State San Marcos Assistant Professor Madeline Lee is committed to issues of social justice for those who are most vulnerable.

“I am inspired by the children and families that I worked with, as a clinician, to conduct research and teach future social workers,” said Lee, who joined CSUSM’s new Department of Social Work in 2014.

Lee researches how to improve services for children with mental health needs involved in child welfare and special education. She found her calling in social work after working in New York City at a child welfare agency serving children battling medical illnesses. After earning her masters in social work from Columbia University, Lee worked at Hollygrove, a children’s residential treatment facility that had once been home to a young Marilyn Monroe.

Prior to joining CSUSM, Lee was a National Institute of Mental Health pre- and post-doctoral fellow and the inaugural Sonja Bilger Romanowski Professor in Social Work at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Lee, who holds a Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis said, “It is exciting to be a part of California’s newest Master of Social Work program at a public institution that is educating social workers who reflect the diversity of our community—most of whom will serve our region.”

What’s more, Lee grew up in Orange County, so returning to California has brought her full circle.

“I am a product of California’s public schools. Like me, many of our students are the first in their family to graduate from college, so earning a graduate degree is a particularly special accomplishment.”