Tragedy to triumph: how a La Salle social work graduate aims to help others manage grief
May 9, 2023
Brittany Kuhn, ’23, M.A. ’24, who lost her husband tragically, aspires to use her experience with loss as a means of guiding others through their difficult times.
“If not me, then who?”
This mantra practiced by the Travis Manion Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting veterans, fallen heroes, and their families, is what set Brittany Kuhn, ’23, M.A. ’24, on a new path.
In January 2018, Kuhn lost her husband, Spc. Devin Kuhn, during a weapons training accident at Camp Rilea in Oregon. The pair had only been married about a month when Devin passed.
“Instead of sending my wedding thank-you notes,” she said, “I had to send funeral thank-you notes.”
“It was an amazing milestone day,” Brittany remembers.
Brittany was prepared to move to Washington to be with Devin. She had a job lined up working as a trained pastry chef. She had a home and her boxes were packed. However, the tragic accident sent her life in another direction. Losing the future she so badly wanted, it was hard not to allowgrief and despair to take over.
It was when she received a plaque for Devin from the Travis Manion Foundation with “If not me, then who?” engraved on it that Brittany realized she was meant to do more in life. That included helping others who are battling grief.
Utilizing Devin’s Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, Brittany pursued a bachelor’s degree in social work at La Salle. She will return this fall for an additional year to complete her master’s degree.
“I feel grateful every day that I get to be an Explorer,” she said.
“There is no doubt Brittany will continue to move through life as a guiding star. Her strength and fortitude are a great reminder of just how strong the human spirit is, she is going to be one great social worker. I can speak on behalf of my entire department in saying that our social work department is better for Brittany haven gone through it.”
– Ramon Laboy, MSW, director of field education
For Brittany, it was clear very quickly that La Salle and its social work program was the right decision for her. Learning from the University’s knowledgeable faculty, Brittany not only feels confident to help clients going through hard times but also found healing for herself through the curriculum.
“There is no doubt Brittany will continue to move through life as a guiding star,” said Ramon Laboy, MSW, director of field education. “Her strength and fortitude are a great reminder of just how strong the human spirit is, she is going to be one great social worker. I can speak on behalf of my entire department in saying that our social work department is better for Brittany haven gone through it.”
Brittany has held an internship with Catholic Social Services, through which she has worked with women, families, and immigrants. She hopes to continue gaining experience through the internship and her master’s program at La Salle, before pursuing a career as a social worker in a clinical setting. One of her goals is to work with the VA or another military organization to help those like her—Gold Star families, who have lost a loved one in active duty.
While Brittany cannot attend this year’s Commencement due to a conflict, she plans to return next year and honor Devin and herself through her cap design with none other than the mantra that was the catalyst for it all.