Marilyn Avsharian 1st Year Trainee - Social Work




Marilyn Avsharian is a first-year LEND trainee and second-year graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh’s Master of Social Work program. A Michigan native, Marilyn received her B.A. in psychology and history from the University of Michigan. Before coming to Pittsburgh, she engaged with children and families in many diverse settings, from working as an au pair in Norway, to teaching social studies in Baltimore’s inner-city schools. While working in Baltimore, Marilyn also earned an M.S. in data-driven education from Johns Hopkins University.

Teaching in Baltimore was a transformative experience for Marilyn, as it solidified her desire and dedication to improve the lives of children and families from underserved populations. This commitment to addressing the systemic issues that prevent these vulnerable children from thriving led Marilyn to her current studies, where she focuses on integrated healthcare, investigating the reciprocal relationship of physical and behavioral health in patient outcomes. Marilyn sees social workers as key facilitators in the shift toward integrated medicine in the healthcare system and is thrilled to be a LEND trainee, as it affords her the unique opportunity to work on an interdisciplinary leadership team, exploring the ideas and solutions that matter to her most.

While at the University of Pittsburgh, Marilyn also worked for the Office of Child Development, where she directed the pilot for a parent leadership and advocacy training. As part of this initiative, she also co-wrote the curriculum that is now used to empower caregivers throughout the Pittsburgh region. Currently, Marilyn is conducting research under the supervision of Dr. Robert Noll, a pediatric psychologist and LEND faculty member. Her studies focus on reducing distress in caregivers of children diagnosed with sickle cell disease through problem-solving skills training. Upon graduation, Marilyn plans to continue working in maternal and child health. She is particularly interested in the role of stress in vulnerable populations and how mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques can improve overall health outcomes. 

As a LEND trainee, Marilyn hopes to gain insight and expertise in skills-training that will help her guide families through the social systems impacting the health of their children, and ultimately prepare these families to be proactive partners in their children’s care.