Social work student accepted to West Virginia Summer Policy Institute

Cassi Heib of the Marshall University College of Health Professions has been chosen to attend the inaugural West Virginia Summer Policy Institute, which will take place at West Virginia University in Morgantown later this month.

Heib, a 28 year-old graduate student in Marshall’s Department of Social Work, developed a policy to address vicarious trauma in first responders, according to Paula Rymer, assistant professor of social work.

"Cassi has taken something tragic that happened in her personal life to develop something that may positively impact many lives," Rymer said. "She is an excellent social worker – she embodies the drive and perseverance that is needed in every successful social worker. The West Virginia Summer Inaugural Policy ​Institute is very fortunate that Cassi applied because she will work tirelessly to address the pressing problems in our society."

Heib, originally from Point Pleasant, West Virginia, said she has always had an interest in policy and advocating for change, and hopes to one day work with legislation.

"My five years of experience with child protective services and my current experience with substance abuse keeps the fire going to fight for some of our most vulnerable populations," Heib said. "During my time in graduate school, I did my part in advocating for change in developing a bill for legislation for our first responders. I have recognized that Secondary Traumatic Stress is well overlooked and have spent a significant amount of time researching it. I presented this policy to Del. [Ray] Hollen this past March and continue to work with him on this matter to hopefully get it to reach the next legislative session. I’m an outspoken and determined individual and feel this institute will help fuel my fire."

Heib said she hopes to connect with other individuals who share her passion for positive change in the state of West Virginia.

"Positive change is all about thinking outside of the box. The professors in this program are constantly challenging and encouraging us to be involved in our community," Heib said. "I received a wonderful education through Marshall’s undergraduate social work program, and I knew the master’s program would be no different. I feel we have become family and the support is inspiring. While I may have had the opportunity to receive my M.S.W. somewhere else prior to now, I do not feel I would have received the same experience and opportunities as I have here."

Fifty students from across West Virginia were chosen for the 2017 West Virginia Summer Policy Institute. To learn more about Heib’s involvement with the Summer Policy Institute, e-mail For more information about opportunities within Marshall’s Department of Social Work, visit


The Summer Policy Institute (SPI) will bring together highly qualified undergraduate and graduate students for a three-day learning experience, where participants are given an opportunity to become better informed about vital West Virginia-specific policy issues, network with fellow students and leaders, and prepare for their future studies and work in policy-related fields. The SPI is hosted by the staff of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and West Virginia University. Participants are chosen by a competitive application process aimed at selecting students with strong academic training, diverse experiences and a clear interest in the study and practice of public policy. Participants will be selected from a range of educational institutions, fields of study, and geographic and cultural backgrounds. The SPI includes a combination of seminars, panels, workshops and keynote addresses involving leading policy experts from government, academia and community organizations. Subjects will include West Virginia’s legislative process, state budget and taxes, education, poverty and opportunity and more. 


Photo: Cassi Heib, 28, of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, was one of 50 candidates chosen for the 2017 West Virginia Summer Policy Institute to be held July 21-23 at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia.