Senior Stride

Emily Scharpen, Grand Forks, North Dakota

Emily Scharpen

Emily Scharpen gained perspective as she started working with mostly teenage, system-involved girls at The Link, a Twin Cities nonprofit that provides support for at-risk youth and families.

“Why am I complaining about something so little when I’m talking with kids who have been trafficked, been exposed to drugs at school?” Scharpen said of her initial thoughts. “Those were never issues for me. It made me realize there’s a huge world outside of your own circle.”

Scharpen’s research work helped focus that perspective and solidify her goal of continuing to pursue social work. Her research studied the effectiveness of The Link and its ability to make a difference in these young people’s lives at crucial times.

“We spoke with a lot of key stakeholders … like city workers, county workers, police officers, and everyone saw it as a very good thing for the community,” Scharpen said. “It’s safe for the community and safe for the kid. Overall we found it was a really good thing.

“If you can get to an at-risk kid at 14, the chances are they will get back on track and not do these bad things when they’re an adult,” Scharpen added. “It’s preventative work too.”

Plans for next year: Attend the St. Catherine and St. Thomas Master of Social Work program.

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