Graduates of Smith College School for Social Work to Hear from Women’s Studies Scholar at 85th Commencement
113 to Receive Degrees at Aug. 19 Public Ceremony
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Women’s studies expert Alexandrina Deschamps will address 113 students slated to receive master’s and doctoral degrees from the Smith College School for Social Work about heeding the call to respond to global uncertainty, fear and trauma.
Deschamps will deliver the commencement address at the school’s 85th graduation ceremony, which will take place at 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19, in the Indoor Track and Tennis Facility. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
An associate professor of women’s studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Deschamps is a familiar face around Smith where, since 1994, she has served as an adjunct faculty member at the School for Social Work and taught courses such as socio-cultural concepts and racism in the United States.
“Students love her as a teacher,” said Susan Donner, associate dean and professor in the School for Social Work. “She challenges them in a way they appreciate.”
Deschamps began her professional life in 1966 as an elementary school teacher in the Commonwealth of Dominica and transitioned to principal of a 1,200-student school. She then made the career leap to the tourism industry, ascending to interim assistant secretary of state for the department of trade, industry, tourism and regional affairs in the Commonwealth of Dominica, before moving to the Pioneer Valley and returning to college.
While studying for her master’s and doctoral degrees at UMass, Deschamps lived in undergraduate housing and served as residence director. At the same time, she served as an instructor in the UMass School for Education and an adviser in Smith’s Career Development Office.
Deschamps added a master’s in 1988 and doctorate in 1996 to her previous certificates in public administration and education from the University of the West Indies in Barbados.
At UMass, she teaches about women’s issues, focusing on Caribbean women, activism, and politics, as well as on feminist theory. Twice in recent years, Deschamps received teaching awards from the university. In 2002, she also received Women of Hope and Change Recognition from Amherst Regional High School.
The Smith College School for Social Work, founded in 1918, enrolls some 325 men and women pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees in social work with a concentration in clinical practice. Students alternate three summers of intensive on-campus classroom instruction with two eight-month periods of extensive fieldwork in agencies across the country.
One of the oldest and most distinguished schools for clinical social work in the United States, the school has lead the field in developing innovative educational and fieldwork responses to trauma, war, dislocation, poverty, abuse and violence.
Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation’s foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country.
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