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Steve Hoffler

Ph.D. Candidate

What attracted me to Smith were its academic reputation and its small classroom settings. I began looking into Ph.D. programs toward the end of my M.S.W. program almost a decade ago and visited several schools throughout the country. Although I was impressed with several schools, Smith's strong clinical program and faculty interests are what attracted me to Smith. Their emphasis on psychodynamic theory is what was lacking in my M.S.W. program and the area of clinical training that I wanted to strengthen in my individual practice. The fact that the campus is within driving distance to my home and work setting is an added benefit, not to mention the beautiful New England setting that is conducive to studying.

As an administrator for Casey Family Services, the direct service agency for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, I have received top-notch training in the child welfare arena from some of the top clinicians, researchers, and scholars in the field. Some of these trainers included Smith's faculty or affiliates of Smith's community. I attended several of their post-masters summer seminars and lectures so I had first hand experience of the caliber of skill and talent that came through the Smith community, but I wanted to go deeper in my clinical training. Smith's Ph.D. program builds upon my professional training and has challenged me to be more reflective and critical of my own practice and has exposed me to theoretical frameworks and paradigms that are out of my comfort zone. The program challenges you to address the cultural and racial hegemony and pedagogical practices that pervade our society and the systems in which we work. The fact that the school has an anti-racism statement is a strong message to our community that the school is committed to having difficult conversations around race and culture. It is not your typical rhetoric that most institutions adopt into their policy statements.

Thus far, my experience at Smith has been rich, rewarding, and challenging; everything that I expected. On a personal level, I am appreciative of the job they did in recruiting my class because of the diversity of experience that we bring to the community. This has been an added value in the experiential learning that is part of the curriculum that one does not get in a textbook. The faculty is committed, accessible, resourceful, and genuinely concerned about us as individuals and as a group. I lost my father to cancer in the middle of my summer program but the Smith community was right there to offer support during this most challenging time in my entire life. They lived up to what they were teaching and for that reason I am grateful and confident that I made the right decision to attend.