M.S.W. Class of 2010
As an educator, I have always been curious about the meaning of behavior. Why do some children have difficulty in social situations? What makes some aggressive and others withdrawn or passive? My curiosity intensified during the five years that I worked as a parenting educator with young moms and their children. These experiences helped me to realize my need for more in depth training. The question was not whether I would go to grad school but what I would study. I was interested in training in areas such as education, counseling children, and social work among many others.
A colleague who was a Smith alumnus encouraged me to consider attending Smith by recommending me to their Reaching for Excellence program, which is designed to interest bachelor's level social workers in pursuing a graduate degree. Participation in the program provided an opportunity for me to experience the curriculum content, expertise of the professors and serene atmosphere of the school that were conducive for optimal learning. It also confirmed that obtaining a master's degree in clinical social work would deepen my ability to serve families. At the age of 52, quitting my job to attend the program was a risk. My willingness to take the risk and my receipt of a partial scholarship from the Reaching for Excellence program were instrumental in my decision to submit an application to the M.S.W. program and the beginning of my Smith journey.
At my first internship I facilitated psychotherapy and psychoeducational skill groups with clients with severe mental illness. It provided an opportunity to utilize my group facilitation skills and learn the benefits of combining psychotherapy with pharmacology. In my second year internship I provided mental health consulting to childcare programs. I gained more in depth training, including case and program consulting and facilitating therapeutic interventions within a classroom setting. This internship supported my learning about dyadic relationships between parent and child, child and teacher, and family and childcare program.
Another important part of my Smith experience has been the relationships I have developed with my fellow Smithies. These relationships were fostered through participation in the Students of Color Council and other student organizations. The classroom peer to peer group projects and presentations have also been instrumental in developing relationships that allowed me to be vulnerable and challenge my thoughts, opinions, and worldviews. All of these experiences have made me much more confident about practicing clinical social work. After Smith, my professional journey could take paths in many different directions. My passion and desire to work with children and adolescents will be an important part of that professional journey.