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Elizabeth Castrellon

M.S.W. Class of 2010

My interest in clinical social work began when I was working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence. I found this work both challenging and rewarding; however, I felt that I needed additional skills in order to provide the best services possible to clients. I chose social work because I felt that this field could provide me with a theoretical framework that would allow me to consider the complexities of the individual as well as the role of the social environment, particularly oppression, when working with a client. I chose Smith because of its reputation for academic excellence in clinical social work and its unique block program. I wanted the opportunity to truly immerse myself in the field and was attracted to the possibility of being in the field 30 hours per week for eight months. I was also drawn to Smith because of its commitment to anti-racism work; although having conversations about racism is never easy, I feel privileged to have had the space to have these difficult conversations.

The academic summers can best be described as emotionally and intellectually intense; through rich dialogue with professors and peers I have been challenged to critically examine the world around me and to more fully examine myself. I felt supported by faculty, staff and other students during the summer sessions, and was prepared to go into both of my placements because of the coursework completed in the summer.

I was placed at a community mental health agency in San Francisco for my first-year placement, and at a Veterans Administration Medical Center in Decatur, Georgia for my second placement. Both sites were rewarding and challenging in their own way. The process of moving across the country several times was much more challenging than I expected; however, it also became an integral part of my personal and professional development. All of these experiences have prepared me to take on new challenges as I make the transition from a student to a professional. I look forward to graduation in August 2010, following which I will be working at the Baylor Psychiatry Clinic in Houston, Texas where I was selected to be a fellow in a competitive process. My plan is to continue growing as a clinical social worker and to work with trauma survivors in the near future.