Griffs Under 40: Marie M. Schuster '11

July 18, 2017

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Buffalo, NY - Every year nearly 1,600 refugees from across the globe come to Western New York to start a new life.  Marie M. Schuster is among the first friendly faces to greet them and help ease their transition to America.

Schuster is a case manager with BestSelf Behavioral Health (formerly Lakeshore Behavioral Health), where she connects refugees, newly accepted into the country, with key community and social support services.

Schuster is relatively new to the position but her background in the field makes her a practiced and proficient friend to foreign refugees.

Schuster is the former resettlement case manager for the International Institute of Buffalo.  The nonprofit organization assists refugees - primarily from Afghanistan, Somalia, Burma and Nepal – to become independent, informed and contributing members of the community. Many of the refugees seek asylum from conflict, wars and persecution, Schuster explains.

“It is a difficult era politically but these folks are just trying to raise their families in peace like everyone else,” she says.

Schuster had many roles at the International Institute.  She worked with refugees to find housing and assist with their applications for social services.  She connected refugee families with primary-care physicians, enrolled children in schools and their parents in English language classes and provided employment counseling.

Schuster’s job then – and now – involves long and non-traditional hours.  She remains inspired, she says, by the pursuit of social justice, thanks to her participation in many service-immersion trips while at Canisius.