Social Work Student to Speak November 9

Jennifer Smith

Jennifer Smith

Las Vegas, N.M. – A social work graduate student at New Mexico Highlands will give a talk about her Washington, D.C. internship Nov. 9 from 12 – 12:50 p.m. in the university’s Student Center at 800 National Ave.

Jennifer Smith, the recipient of the Joseph Montoya $5,000 stipend, worked as an intern with the Community Services Agency of the Metro Washington Council of the AFL/CIO.

Her talk, A Brief Social History and Assessment of Our Nation’s Capital, Washington, D.C., will focus upon her observations, comparing and contrasting Washington D.C. and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Smith is an Albuquerque native.

As part of her internship, Smith did outreach on behalf of the nonprofit Building Futures Program in predominantly African-American neighborhoods where the majority of people live below the poverty line.

“It is my contention that the Building Futures Program would be advantageous in New Mexico because of the large portion of people living below the poverty level. The program provides six weeks of training for building trades and helps people with either job placement or apprenticeships,” Smith said.

Smith said the Washington, D.C. internship was a life altering experience.

“The internship cemented the concept for me that people are the same everywhere and we all want a connection. We think of big cities as anonymous, and yet people still appreciate being acknowledged,” Smith said.

Smith is a student at the Highlands University Albuquerque Center, where she said the Facundo Valdez School of Social Work provides impressive instruction in what it takes to be a social worker.

Smith is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, an honor society for students, and Phi Kappa Phi, the oldest honor society for students.

“I’m a first-generation college student who thought I would change the world by being a social work student. Instead, the world has changed me. I’m most passionate about working with adults who are involved in the criminal justice system,” Smith said.

Her current social work practicum is at the law office of the public defender in Albuquerque.

Smith, who is 54, said she is very grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime internship experience in Washington, D.C. Joseph Montoya is a distinguished alumnus of Highlands University. The $5,000 internship stipend focuses on giving Highlands University students the opportunity to intern in Washington, D.C. in their field of study.

Lunch is provided for Smith’s talk. To RSVP contact Diana Marrs, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Highlands, at by Nov. 7.