Reaching for Excellence

Endowed by the Maconda Brown O’Connor Future Leadership Scholarship, Smith College SSW invites nominations for a weekend full of courses and lectures designed to challenge and stretch bachelor-level human service workers and to inspire them to consider graduate education. 

Eligible nominees and applicants to Reaching for Excellence may not be current Smith SSW applicants or enrolled in another M.S.W. program.

By nominating yourself or someone you know, you help Smith SSW:

  • Invest in the best students
  • Nurture a commitment to the profession
  • Develop professional leadership capacity
  • Encourage aspirations toward an M.S.W. degree

If selected, REX participants receive:

  • A grant to cover all coursework, lectures, and room and board for REX
  • Half of domestic travel expenses to the REX weekend exceeding $50
  • 18 Continuing Education credits
  • Waiver of the $60 Smith College M.S.W. application fee
  • Geographic location preference for M.S.W. program internship

To qualify, nominees must:

  • Be a bachelor-level social worker or other human service provider with at least two years experience
  • Have earned a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0*
  • Demonstrate a passion for human services work
  • Have not yet received or applied for their master’s degree in social work or a similar course of study

* The 3.0 GPA requirement is based on a 4.0 grading scale. We understand that, on occasion, circumstances beyond your control intervene, making it impossible to maintain a 3.0 GPA. If your GPA is below a 3.0, you may apply, but you must include a statement outlining the reason the low GPA is not an accurate representation of the your capacity.

Additional Information

What is the Reaching for Excellence (REX) Program?

Reaching for Excellence is a three day forum where selected bachelor-level human service workers participate in training on topics such as “Engaging Clients in Meaningful Conversation,” “Social Work Intervention in a Multicultural World,” “Theories of Development of the Life Cycle,” and “Engaging the Child: the Use of Play.” Participants also hear presentations about the future of the profession from the dean as well as presentations from faculty currently working with some of today’s most pressing social work issues. Participants receive 18 Continuing Education Credits for licensure and a waiver of the $60 application fee for later application to the Smith College School for Social Work M.S.W., if they choose to apply.

Does the Maconda Brown O’Connor Scholarship cover all expenses?

The scholarship covers all coursework, lectures, materials, and room and board while participants are at Smith for REX. All Reaching for Excellence participants qualify for a refund of travel expenses equaling ½ the total of domestic travel expenses minus $50 with a maximum reimbursement of $500. This includes the cost of tickets for travel by air, train, or bus. Car rentals and gas mileage/tolls are not covered. In all cases, Smith encourages economical choices when choosing a flight. Reimbursements will be made for economy class travel only. Travel to Smith that includes other origins or destinations apart from the program or home address on record are handled on a case by case basis and should be reviewed with the School before committing to travel or ticket purchase. Anyone with travel expenses exceeding $50 may request a reimbursement upon completion of the Reaching for Excellence program and with receipts provided. Participants must complete the program to qualify for reimbursement.

Who receives the scholarship?

A small number of bachelor-level human service workers are selected for Reaching for Excellence each year. All those selected will receive the scholarship.

Who is qualified to attend Reaching for Excellence?

Anyone who has completed a bachelor’s degree and has been working in human services for a minimum of 2 years. Applicants normally must have a minimum undergraduate cumulative 3.0 GPA. We understand that, on occasion, circumstances beyond your control intervene, making it impossible to maintain a 3.0 GPA. If the GPA is below a 3.0 and these circumstances apply, you must include a statement outlining the reason the GPA is not an accurate representation of your capacity. The 3.0 GPA requirement is based on a 4.0 grading scale.

What do I need to do to be considered for this scholarship?
What if I just heard about this program and the nomination or application deadline is upon me?

Email us at and we can discuss whether there still remains a possibility of an extension of the deadline.