By: Krista Didzbalis '19
Rachael Smith, MSW '19, is a MAP student who's work and academics reflects her dedication to social change. As an intern at Rutgers Title IX and Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance, Smith has been able to create a lactation policy for the university, evaluate department programs, participate in bystander intervention research, and gain hands on experience in implementing programs.
At VPVA, Smith works as a graduate hearing officer where she investigates and handles cases pertaining to non compliant students. Smith is also involved in our Center on Violence Against Women and Children's certificate program and serves as the treasurer of the Graduate Student Association.
While earning her undergraduate degree in human services, Smith first learned of social work. However, her passion came later after rounds of trial and error in other fields.
"I think I always knew I wanted to be a social worker, but I did not pursue it from the very beginning. Instead, I tired absolutely everything else. I tried nursing, business, athletic training. I even earned half of a dual masters in special education and early childhood education. In the end, everything came full swing back to social work," says Smith.
Smith felt compelled to pursue the Management and Policy specialization because of her desire to make a large impact outside of a clinical setting.
"My first push was when I realized that I felt the need to take on a bigger role. I also had an amazing professor my first year, Marla Blunt-Carter, who encouraged me to pursue Management and Policy." Says Smith.
According to Smith, the future is unpredictable and full of many possibilities. Although she is approaching the finish line of earning her MSW, she expects that her academic career will continue beyond Rutgers.
"I have a plan, but I am not set on it because anything can happen. I love my placement here now, and I am considering entering the field of law and earning my Juris Doctorate." says Smith.
As someone who has considered many career paths before stumbling upon her true passion, she offers advice to other students pursing a career in the field of social work.
"Don’t second guess yourself or your abilities. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of the program and life. But, you have to continue to remind yourself that you’re exactly where you need to be and you will figure out your strengths and your path in this field in due time. Just trust the process!"