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MSW Stand-out Profile: Elisheva Davidoff
March 5, 2018

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I grew up in Morristown, NJ as the youngest of 5 children. I attended public school (except for a one-year stint in a Vermont boarding school) and spent two and a half years at St John’s College in Maryland, studying philosophy and history of Western thought. I transferred to Evergreen State College in Washington for my last year of college so I could focus on writing and American history. During and after my undergraduate years I spent time living and working on organic farms in Arizona, Maryland, Hawaii, and North Carolina. In between my BA and entering the MSW program, I started a virtual assistance business and worked in a youth shelter. I used my free time to get trained and certified as a municipal firefighter, a forest firefighter, and an EMT. I was one of two female firefighters in my training program, the only female firefighter in my town, and one of a handful in the NJ Forest Fire Service. An injury ended my first responder career prematurely, but ended up leading me to the MSW program. I currently am a second year MAP student in the VAWC certificate program. My fieldwork is with the Executive Board of Fatality Review with the NJ Department of Children and Families, and I am a 2017-18 Eagleton Fellow. I also serve as the Community Liaison for the SSW Student Government Association. I spend my free time volunteering with CASA of Morris County, reading, and spending time with my family and fiancé.

Hometown?  Morristown, NJ

What drew you to Rutgers School of Social Work’s MSW program?

My mother completed her Masters degree at Rutgers a few years ago and had a wonderful experience. I knew a few social worker colleagues who had attended Rutgers and told me it was a great program. I was also attracted to the prospect of going to a state school with campuses close to my home. The cincher for me was the affordability and practicality of the program. Every other program I looked at was nearly twice as much in tuition.

What were you most excited about in coming to the School and the program? Most nervous about?

I was excited to be back in school because I have always loved academics and learning. However, I was nervous about the workload in graduate school and whether I would be a good student.

What are your areas of research or professional interest and what personally drew you to this particular area?

I was initially planning on going to school for forensic psychology, but decided social work was more practical in terms of getting a job. Fortunately, I have been able to focus my social work studies on forensic social work and victim advocacy so I feel like I ended up getting the best of both worlds.

List five words that friends would use to describe you.

Tough, hard working, proactive, outgoing, and genuine (my fiancé asked me to add in “bossy”). 

Do you have a favorite quote or phrase that serves as your persona creed or motto?

"In order to go on living one must try to escape the death involved in perfectionism."  ---Hannah Arendt

How do you manage balancing your time with schoolwork, volunteer work, and job and/or home life?

I have to be honest with myself about how much I can take on at any given moment. I am the kind of person who really enjoys pushing myself to my limits in terms of time, but I have had to learn how to create limits, prioritize, and make time for myself.  On a more pragmatic level, I am fanatical about keeping a calendar and keeping an ongoing to-do list to keep me on track.

Any advice for incoming students?

Don’t expect to know everything your first semester. The first semester is the hardest because of the workload but also because of the learning curve when it comes to academic writing, studying, etc.

Talk to as many people as possible and make as many connections as you can. Everyone has words of wisdom and can help you in some way (and in the future you can pay it forward). Meet with the dean, professors, professionals at the school, and stay in touch!

Take advantage of interdisciplinary programs and lectures on campus such as the law school lectures and Eagleton events. Take a class with another school if possible.

 Really use winter breaks to rest. Also, if you have the ability, take a summer class to lighten your load second year.


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