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Emely Velez

M.S.W. Class of 2010

I arrived at Smith after a rewarding undergraduate experience at Mount Holyoke College, followed by an intense experience working as a community fellow at Enlace de Familias in Holyoke, Massachusetts. It was there that I decided to continue on a clinical path within the field of social work to learn and be trained in the psychodynamic and inter-subjective process of therapy. Little did I know I was about to encounter one of the most transformative experiences of my life.

I chose Smith due to its reputation for creating social workers specialized in micro practice that can operate from a macro perspective. I was drawn to the socio-cultural framework of working with people and considering a person within the greater context of their community. I was also attracted by the anti-racism mission and the boldness of this institution to take on such an initiative. At Smith, my opportunities have been limitless. I have been able to serve a term as social chair for the Council for Students of Color, to assist a faculty member with research on immigration policy and history, and to serve on a panel on internalized racism for a colleague's thesis dissemination. In my final year I won a thesis award from the school's Alumni Association, for which I am eternally grateful.

Originally from Connecticut, I moved to New York City where I completed both my first- and second-year field placements. The first was working at a day treatment clinic with adults diagnosed with schizophrenia. I facilitated psychotherapy groups, community meetings and activities, and had the opportunity to create a poetry group for the program. This placement was one of tremendous growth where I accumulated much knowledge about mental health systems and various treatment modalities. My second year I worked at an outpatient mental health clinic where I was able to hone my skills in working therapeutically with children and families, which is what I hope to continue to do upon graduation from Smith.

My time at Smith has been everything but what I expected. I expected to simply earn a degree. Instead, I earned a new set of eyes to view the world through, renewed grace for myself and for others, experienced greater compassion and love, and most of all, developed unstoppable and unbreakable character.