FDR once proclaimed that “We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.” With a parallel outlook, McKenzie Mattison’s transition from a BA in Health and Human Services with a concentration in Early Childhood to the UB MSW program was seamless and fruitful. Graduating from the MSW program in 2012, she efficaciously took advantage of potent opportunities to positively influence Buffalo area youth.
Her real-world impact is far-reaching — as a student, Mattison’s passion for working with adolescents and refugee youth drove her influential association with the Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care (ITTIC), which evolved into a mutually beneficial partnership with another organization on which she had a lasting impact, the Erie 1 BOCES program Leaving Our Legacy (LOL). At LOL, she sought to empower youth, emboldening them to seek and share with their peers information on adolescent sexual health. She also created trauma-informed care training for LOL youth, who were then able to present their perspective on the link between risky adolescent sexual behavior and trauma. Mattison established a second forward-thinking partnership reflective of her deep interest in area youth – in collaboration with Our Lady of Hope and Catholic Church via the ITTIC, she helped to design and implement trauma-informed youth empowerment groups for refugees ages 14-18.
A passionate and results-driven youth advocate, Mattison is also a Certified Child Life Specialist and trained EPIC (Every Person Influences Children) facilitator dedicated to assisting families, schools, and communities to influence and educate children to become responsible adults. Her influence on area youth and fostering of interracial relationships while at UB earned her the 2012 Haseltine T. Clements Memorial Award, which recognizes a graduating MSW student who demonstrates a compassionate interest in human dignity and sustains cultural competency in field placement.
Mattison’s indispensable connection to area youth persists post-graduation in her role as social worker/case manager for individuals ages 2 to 24 in the Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo Youth Link program, where she provides intensive support for those living with HIV, those at-risk for HIV/STIs, and for those who have suffered sexual assault.