Outstanding social work grad channeled discomfort into action

Shiloh Dailey

Outstanding grad Shiloh Dailey has left a clear mark during their time at Colorado State University as an advocate for social justice and LGBTQIA+ students. Dailey identifies as a queer, disabled, non-traditional student. Pursuing their bachelor’s degree in CSU’s School of Social Work as a transfer student while parenting two young children through the pandemic has proven to be both challenging and rewarding. While pursuing their degree, Dailey found a community of support and led action to address local and national issues of discrimination.

Originally from Aurora, Colorado, Dailey has lived the last several years in Northern Colorado, and is a self-described “avid knitter, plant parent, and snake enthusiast.” They came to CSU after starting an online degree. “I transferred from ASU Online to CSU when my kids were old enough to be in school full time,” they explained. “It’s easier for me to learn in person and the CSU campus was close to home with programming that interested me.”

Balancing act

COVID-19 arrived shortly after Dailey began at CSU, forcing them to return to online learning. “It was challenging to balance home schooling two kids while navigating my own studies,” they said. Suddenly parent and children were all learning online. “When CSU returned to in-person learning, my kids continued to learn at home, so my spouse and I balanced our academic and professional responsibilities while helping our kids access online education through their school district.”

In addition to the logistical trials of learning and parenting in shifting environments, Dailey was disturbed by discrimination on campus. “The return to in-person learning at CSU unfortunately included an uncomfortable amount of discriminatory speech from community members against LGBTQIA+ people on the [Lory Student Center] plaza. It’s been challenging to feel unprotected and unaccepted in some spaces on campus.”

Support system

Despite these challenges, Dailey found support and partnership at home and at CSU.

A family selfie with two parents and two children
Dailey and family

“I’m incredibly grateful to have such a supportive partner and that my partner has had the privilege of working from home since the start of the pandemic,” they said. “He carried a significant portion of the responsibility for aiding our children so that I could focus on my studies.”

In the School of Social Work, Dailey aligned their coursework with their passions for addressing LGBTQIA+ health disparity through the examination of social determinants of health. They channeled their discomfort into action, and found community with instructors, advisers, students, clubs, and leaders. They advocated for administrative changes and amplified their voice through leadership roles.

“I’ve been able to find an awesome community of solution-focused, change-oriented folx that have supported me across my time in the program, including through developing supportive interventions in the SSW and amending policy to foster inclusion,” they said.

Action and connection

“The #CallOutCSU protest in September 2021 is a moment I think on often,” said Dailey. “The School of Social Work rallied students and staff to join a CSU student organized protest to address hate speech in the plaza.”

There, they were impressed to connect with leaders like School of Social Work Director Charlotte Bright. “It was a meaningful gesture and, from my perspective, just the beginning of student and staff collaboration on addressing LGBTQIA+ issues.”

A person in a mask, glasses, and beanie at Trans Day of Action
Dailey at Trans Day of Action

Dailey dove into advocacy work and organizations, including Social Work Action. They took leadership one step further by turning a class assignment into a peer support group for queer-identified students. “Co-founding Queer in Action (QnA) with BSW students Alison Lanning and Sarah Fizer with the assistance and guidance of Instructor Danielle Willis, Director Charlotte Bright, and Professors Anne Williford and Jen Currin-McCulloch has felt like a dream come true,” they said.

“I’m also proud of all my work with the Committee for Social Justice and the Trans-Cis Alliance subcommittee. Over the last academic year, the TCA successfully formalized a pronoun statement in the School Code. We also organized a Safe Zone training for the SSW in collaboration with Maggie Hendrickson, the Assistant Director of the Pride Resource Center, and organized and facilitated the Trans Day of Action in partnership with the Pride Leadership Council.”

In early April, the Trans Day of Action encouraged students and staff to gather in the LSC and write letters to government officials across the country in support of trans rights.

Dailey’s leadership and advocacy extend beyond CSU to the National Association of Social Workers. “For the last academic year, I have also served as the elected undergraduate student representative for NASW Colorado. During my time on the board, I helped to develop and implement a student-faculty liaison committee that will allow the NASW-CO student reps to better engage with and represent students across the state.”

Looking forward

Beyond graduation, Dailey looks forward to time with their partner and two children. “We enjoy adventuring to places both fantastical and mundane,” they said.

Their CSU degree, connections, and experiences are driving forces for Dailey’s future plans. “After graduating with my BSW, I am excited to make my way through the MPH/MSW dual degree program here at CSU.”

They have secured a graduate research assistantship with the Human-Animal Bond in Colorado (HABIC) program, part of the School of Social Work. And their advocacy and leadership is just beginning. “I look forward to continuing to support and attend QnA meetings and moving forward in collaboration with the Committee for Social Justice to foster safe and inclusive environments in the SSW and throughout the CSU.”

Daley was featured in Profiles in courage: Members of the class of 2022 describe difficulties that molded them on CSU’s SOURCE news site.

The School of Social Work is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.