August 4, 2003
AT SMITH SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL WORK GRADUATION
Editor's note: Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend the Smith College School for Social Work's 83rd graduation, which will take place at 4 p.m., Friday, Aug. 15, in the Indoor Track and Tennis Building. To arrange interview with students, with speaker Willie Baptist or with Social Work Dean Carolyn Jacobs, contact Laurie Fenlason, (413) 585-2190, firstname.lastname@example.org.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.-As they set out to serve diverse populations in schools, clinics, hospitals, prisons, and child and family welfare agencies, the 105 students slated to receive Master of Social Work degrees from Smith College will hear words of inspiration and challenge from a deeply committed activist and longtime veteran of the politics of human services in the United States.
Willie Baptist, education director of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU) and co-coordinator of the University of the Poor, will give the commencement address at the Smith College School for Social Work's 83rd graduation ceremony, which will take place at 4 p.m. Friday, August 15, in the Indoor Track & Tennis Building.
The ceremony is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.
Founded more than a decade ago, KWRU is a multiracial organization of poor and homeless families working together to alleviate poverty. Named for the North Philadelphia neighborhood, one of the poorest in Pennsylvania, where the group formed, KWRU sponsors protests, bus tours, marches and other actions around the country designed to highlight economic injustice. The University of the Poor, the education and training arm of KWRU's Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, is dedicated to developing leaders in the antipoverty movement. Via a network of organizations and an Internet presence, it sponsors "schools and departments" on subjects including labor, art and music, theology, Internet empowerment, statistics and research, and student organizing. Its resources include an extensive online library of strategy papers, speeches, news articles, statistical reports and education and training materials on topics ranging from globalization to housing, homelessness and welfare reform.
Baptist, once unemployed, homeless and a welfare recipient, began his commitment to activism during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s when he participated in the 1965 Watts uprising. Throughout his career, he has organized numerous protests, marches and drives, including the nationwide drive in the late 1980s that led to the formation of the National Union of the Homeless. He has been recognized for his contributions by the National Welfare Rights Union, the National Union of the Homeless and Bread and Roses.
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. The school is one of the oldest and most distinguished schools for clinical social work in the United States.
Established in response to the trauma facing shell-shocked veterans of World War I, the school has continued to lead the field in developing innovative educational and fieldwork responses to trauma, war, dislocation, violence, poverty and abuse.
Students in the MSW program alternate three summers of intensive, on-campus classroom instruction with two eight-month periods of extensive fieldwork in agencies across the country.
Also receiving degrees at the August 15 ceremony will be nine doctoral candidates.
-- 30 --