Greetings fellow Huskies! My name is Chris McRae. I am currently a PhD candidate at Clemson University; the Executive Director of nonprofit in Greenville, SC that promotes community well-being and works towards poverty alleviation called the Center for Community Services (CCS); and, most importantly, a proud graduate of the University of Washington Bothell (UWB) Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Community Psychology program. Prior to my pursuits in higher education, I served for ten years as a Ranger-qualified United States Army Infantryman. Upon returning to school, I found the rigors of academia at UWB and my work in the community to be both enriching and transformative.
While the stereotypical infantryman develops an attitude of ideological rigidity, I left the service with a dramatically different outlook. During my last tour in Iraq, I volunteered to lead my unit’s community development and infrastructure repair efforts in addition to my other duties. While engaged in this capacity, I learned that leadership is not about controlling others; it is about building community and serving. I recognized that humans—all peoples—their beliefs, and their cultural ideals must be viewed in the broadest context possible. I came to appreciate the significance of community; without meaningful interconnectedness, our chances for positive change are severely limited.
My deep experience of other cultures, and indeed of the suffering of other peoples, has developed in me a profound empathy and a visceral understanding of injustice. These are what continue to drive me to labor for positive change and social justice through my work in building and strengthening communities. Through my work in community psychology, I find that the keystone of community development is the strengthening of families. In my current work with both families living in poverty and in veteran readjustment, I have found that empowering families provides positive effects for each individual—this eventually translates to the larger community. My training as a community psychologist at UWB provided me with the social relationships, academic ability, and theoretical frameworks to not only understand these concepts but also to use these understandings to create a plan of action and transform my passions into avocation. Further, the world class education I received at UWB fully provided me with the intellectual knowledge necessary to be successful in graduate school. For this reason, while my academic career may conclude amongst the Clemson Tigers, I will always proudly label myself as a UWB Husky!
Skills Developed at UW Bothell: Leadership development, adult education, community organizing, conflict resolution, empowerment, human rights