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Yolonda young armstrong

M.S.W. Class of 2013

Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama on the heels of the civil rights movement reinforced my perception that supporting historically disadvantaged populations, particularly those impacted by racism, economic oppression, and sexism, was greatly needed. It became clear to me at a young age that I would dedicate my life to helping people navigate and recover from the damaging effects of social, political, and economic oppression.

In 1997, I accepted my first social services position at a children's residential treatment center. I felt deeply honored to connect with young children diagnosed with mental health challenges whose suffering was often the result of early childhood trauma. After working with this population for a short while, I knew that I wanted to continue to support individuals and communities impacted by psychological and social trauma.

This process took me on a long journey of working with survivors of rape and domestic violence, including children with traumatic histories. A big part of my work was attending to my own personal healing and transcending the barriers of internalized racism and sexism. My curiosity about holistic treatment for the mind, body and spirit led me to study sound healing, somatic education, and movement as tools for empowerment.

I graduated from my undergraduate studies in 2006 from Mills College with a B.A. in Anthropology and Sociology. While I was sure that I wanted to pursue a graduate degree, it took me a while to decide on the exact path. I took some time to make my decision, but my desire to empower and provide transformative resources to individuals experiencing emotional, economic, and spiritual distress due to child sexual abuse, domestic violence and homophobia never wavered.

Smith College School for Social Work (SSW) stood apart in a very positive and unique way. The school's commitment to anti-racism, social justice, and psychodynamic theory complimented my desire to think critically about the intersections of oppression and the art of using psychotherapy to encourage and facilitate social, emotional, and psychological improvements in people's lives. I was convinced that Smith could offer me the tools necessary to enhance my knowledge of psychodynamic theory, address the affects of social ills, and facilitate emotional and psychological healing.

Every day, I am reassured that the Smith College School for Social Work was and still is the right decision. My academic experience at Smith has been richly enhanced by rigorous coursework combined with extensive clinical internships and additional opportunities that encourage leadership for women of color.

Without any doubt, my educational process at Smith College School for Social Work has prepared me for a bright future as a social work.