Finger on the Pulse: Marybeth Stratton

There are arguably few people on Smith School for Social Work’s campus with as much of a finger on the pulse of the student body as Marybeth Stratton, the systems manager in the Office of Practicum Learning. Though her official duties include overseeing the School’s placement system program, called Sonia, as well as running the day-to-day of the crucial office, her unofficial role is being the person that students go to first when they have questions.

Marybeth Stratton stands outside and smiles at the camera.

“We have the advantage of the bigger campus and the resources of that, but we’re still our own little community at SSW. You feel like you belong.”

“People will say, ‘If you have a question, go to Marybeth. She’ll probably know,’” said Stratton, whose 10-year anniversary working at SSW is this fall. She has a sense of any issues students are having as they complete their placements, and she is always thinking of sensible ways to help solve them. “I'm usually the first line or triage to answer questions and help them get to the right place if I can't.”

Stratton came to SSW after a long stint at Pearson. “I really wanted to get out of the corporate world and I was looking for a job in higher ed,” she said. The Smith job appealed to her for multiple reasons: she had the event planning experience Smith sought; she liked the idea of helping students and streamlining processes.

At SSW, she has a chance to do all of those things at once employing strategic thinking. Recently, for example, Stratton launched a new system that allows practicum site supervisors to create profiles for their available internship rather than relying on multiple rounds of communication between sites and faculty advisors to help students understand available opportunities. The work Stratton did to communicate with and train site personnel saved SSW faculty and staff hours of work.

Beyond enjoying her work with site supervisors and students, Stratton also appreciates SSW’s staff and faculty community. It’s a place, she says, where all ideas are welcome and all types of diversity are embraced.

“We have the advantage of the bigger campus and the resources of that, but we’re still our own little community at SSW,” Stratton said. “You feel like you belong.”