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Social Work

Social Isolation in Rural Areas: Developing Student Community COnnections through letter writing

By Brittany Leffler & Rachel Preibisch

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Brittany Leffler is in her third year of study and research a part-time MSW candidate in the School of Social Work at Millersville University.  She is employed full-time as a sexual assault counselor and educator at Lancaster County’s designated rape crisis center, the Sexual Assault Prevent, and Counseling Center at the YWCA Lancaster. Brittany’s social work areas of focus include the traumatic effects of violence, human sexuality, adverse childhood experiences, and expressive arts interventions for youth and adults. She is a recipient of the Steinman Fellowship, a PA standards

mandated reporting training instructor, a certified clinical trauma practitioner, and a student research assistant at Millersville University’s Center for Public Scholarship and Social Change (CPSSC).

Rachel is a first-year Master of Social Work candidate at Millersville University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in German Studies from Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, and has international work experience in community project development and economic journalism. The themes of social isolation, loneliness, connectivity, and meaning, which emerge through this work, are knowledge that she will carry with her into social work practice. Rachel is excited to be under the wing of several faculty and student mentors during this project.

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Author's Note:

We have no known conflicts of interest to disclose. 

Special thanks to the Center for Public Scholarship and Social Change, and the BTGT team: Drs. Jennifer Frank, Laura Breirton Granruth, Heather Girvin, and Mary Glazier for all of your support during this project. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Brittany Leffler at

Keywords:  social isolation, poverty, rural communities, experiential learning

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