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Winnie Simmons

M.S.W. Class of 2011

After graduating from Texas Christian University in 2007 with my B.S.W., I worked in Houston for two years as an investigator for Child Protective Services. I loved my experiences working with children and families in the Houston area; however, I knew I wanted to do this work in a more in-depth capacity, and that I wanted to get an M.S.W. After making the decision to go back to graduate school, the Smith School for Social Work seemed like the best place for me to develop into a clinical social worker. Among other things, I was attracted to Smith's strong clinical reputation nationwide, its emphasis on psychodynamic theory, the rigorous yet condensed coursework during the summer sessions, and the variety of field placement opportunities. And so, in June of 2009, I became a Smithie.

At Smith, I am constantly learning. Whether I am sitting in Seelye Hall listening to one of my professors supplement theoretical knowledge with their personal experiences in the field, or attending a nightly lecture on race and racial differences in the therapeutic environment, participating in a translating gender workshop, or enjoying a pot luck meal with my peers, I am always being challenged and encouraged to become my best at Smith. I am motivated by the diverse perspectives offered by the faculty and other students and will always have a deep appreciation for the school, the experiences and the friendships I have made here.

My first placement took me to Los Angeles where I provided supportive and counseling services to seriously ill children and their families at the Ronald McDonald House. This experience allowed me to gain exposure working with individuals, couples and families in a short term approach. I was supervised by a Smith graduate and learned a lot about grief and crisis intervention work. I worked with many families that I will never forget and have taken these cases back with me to Smith during the summer to learn from and continue developing and deepening my educational foundation in order to be a clinical social worker.

This fall, I will return to the West Coast where I will join a large contingent of Smithies in the San Francisco Bay area. I will be working at the Oakland Children's Hospital in the Center for Child Protection, which offers medical and mental health services to children and adolescents affected by abuse and/or exposure to violence. This experience will relate to my thesis, which focuses on the resiliency of sexual abuse victims, and my goal to work with children impacted by trauma in the future.