Smith College SSW Announces Commencement Class Speakers
M.S.W. Class Speaker | Tazin Banu
Long before hearing the bells of College Hall toll, Tazin Banu recognized a personal, deeply rooted connection to the field of social work.
“I believe in helping communities recognize cultural wealth and honoring the self-determination of others,” said Banu.
While a serendipitous exchange with an SSW student introduced Banu to the program, it was the School’s anti-racism commitment and flexible field internship opportunities that sealed the deal. “I wanted to immerse myself in campus and student life but still have the option of living with my family for most of the year.”
Engaging in Smith’s immersive clinical program offered Banu a window into the realities of the social work profession. While challenging and arduous, Banu’s field internships provided key exposure to the systems and policies within which society operates. “Especially important has been the ways that the professors at Smith have shared their own expertise,” commented Banu. “It acts as a scaffold to students’ understanding of clinical practice and how we are able to visualize the many hats a social worker often wears.”
As Banu nears graduation she reflects on the convergence between her personal background and academic experience. “I pride myself on being from a diverse and liberal city, but it has been an eye-opening experience in terms of how much more learning and unlearning was required on my part to be an inclusive and anti-oppressive clinician,” said Banu.
"I look forward to being a part of a collective effort that empowers people and offers tools for their wellness. If I can act as a liaison between someone and their healing journey, then that would be a beautiful gift." - Banu
Upon receiving her diploma Banu will prepare for the ASWB exam and, along with the rest of her graduating classmates, pay close attention to shifts within the social work profession. “There are a lot of questions pertaining to the context of the pandemic and conceptualizing what our work will entail moving forward.” She is eager to deepen her practice of psychodynamic psychotherapy with particular emphasis on trauma-informed, culturally-sensitive care that integrates social identity and systemic oppression as necessary aspects of healing work.
Ph.D. Class Speaker | LaTasha Smith, M.S.W., LCSW
Since her arrival to Smith College SSW, LaTasha Smith knew she wanted to make a lasting impact in her work as a clinical social worker. Now in her final weeks at the School, that dream is turning into a reality.
First drawn to the School because of its psychodynamic focus and anti-racism commitment, Smith has an interest in integrating psychodynamic and sociopolitical theories in her clinical work with clients. “This integration adds an additional level of thinking about how an individual’s context influences their mental health and how elements of one’s social context becomes internalized. My goal in clinical work is to help clients externalize these social forces," said Smith.
Over the course of her academic experience at SSW, Smith has made her mark on the program--working as a Sotomayor Fellow, wherein she consults with students on questions, issues or concerns regarding race, racism or any other aspects of social identity and social oppression, and as an adjunct faculty member.
Said Smith, “Being a Sotomayor Fellow positioned me to further understand the systemic and structural challenges students and the SSW community face in our ongoing efforts to dismantle White supremacy. In my role as an adjunct faculty member, the work continues and is not separate.
"I bring a perspective to my teaching that is informed by my experiences in the Fellow role, the realities of our social context and the influence our identities have on our clinical work with clients."
"The program and its clinical focus helped to deepen my clinical practice, which also informs my research and teaching," Smith commented.
Beginning in the fall, Smith will join the faculty at Fairfield University as an assistant professor and will teach social justice, assessment, research methods and fieldwork courses. Said Smith, “I am most looking forward to teaching, mentoring and influencing future social workers and continuing my research on internalized racial oppression."
In addition to working at Fairfield, Smith plans to maintain a small private practice in both New York and Connecticut.