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Alumni Profile-Lauren Keller, MSSW 2021

Lauren Keller is a recent 2021 graduate of the MSSW program. She is living and working in Canal Fulton, Ohio, and has recently started a pet bereavement group in a cat café in her area, using the knowledge she learned from the veterinary social work program.

“My favorite experience at UT College of Social Work was the opportunity to be involved in the Veterinary Social Work program and Organizational Leadership (OL) track,” Keller said.  “I feel that selecting this program was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my lifetime, as it combines my connection to animals and my love of social work.”

She attributes the Organizational Leadership track for enhancing her leadership and management skills. “The OL track was a fantastic stepping stone to my ultimate career goal to operate my own non-profit organization,” she said.  “I am forever thankful for the professors that have taken time out of their schedules to answer all of my questions and actively listen to my personal thoughts and ideas for a non-profit. Getting my MSSW from UT has provided me with so many more unique opportunities that have helped me grow personally and professionally as a clinical therapist.”

Keller began the pet loss group after seeing an advertisement on social media of a recently opened cat cafe in her area. “After seeing the ad, I immediately called the owner to obtain more information on how I can help contribute to their mission,” she explained. “I let her know about my experience with UT and Veterinary Social Work, and that I’d like to start a pet bereavement group.  Through the Veterinary Social Work program, I’ve learned more than I could imagine about grief, compassion fatigue, and pet loss, and this is something that I strive to advocate and share with others. I have connected with this subject on such a deep level as it means so much to me personally. It also spreads awareness that pets are family members too, and people can experience grief with animals just the same. She collaborated with me on this idea and has since allowed me to host a monthly pet loss group at the cat cafe.”

Keller’s ultimate goal is to start her own nonprofit. “I’m currently in the process of developing my nonprofit, Snickerdoodles’ Rabbit Rescue & Pet Loss Support, where I will rescue abandoned rabbits in my area and adopt them to forever homes, educate the community on rabbit health and abandonment, while continuing to run pet support groups,” she said. “I am so excited to start this new adventure and plan to use all the skills I learned at UTCSW to turn my dream into a reality.”   

Click here to read more about Keller’s pet support group: