Alumni Kristie Smith ('07) of Farmington, PA first heard about Elizabethtown College at a college fair, and did an overnight visit. During the visit, Kristie took advantage of the opportunity to sit in on some classes.
"The small class sizes and strong relationships between students and professors really appealed to me. More than ten years later, I am still incredibly proud of my decision to attend Etown..."
Kristie was involved in campus life throughout her years at Elizabethtown College, she was a Resident Assistant in Myer Hall. The next year she lived in the LOVE (Laughter Overcomes Virtually Everything) SDLS. In Etown's SDLC program, students are given the opportunity to live in a house that sponsors or supports a certain charity. Students are expected to work with a local agency in order to complete service learning hours.
Kristie did not come to Elizabethtown College as a Social Work major; at first she was pre-med. Up until sophomore year, Kristie had never know of all the opportunities a social work degree would provide, but was very glad when she made the switch.
"It's hard to pick just one thing that I loved about Social Work at Elizabethtown. The quality of my education, thanks to Etown's incredible professors, far exceeded my expectations."
As part of the internship aspect of the Social Work curriculum, Kristie interned at the CIRCLE (the Coalition for Immigrants Rights at the Community Level) during her junior year. This agency works to protect the rights of immigrants and immigrant families. It provides informational presentations, assistance with filling paperwork, assistance in resolving unfair labor practices and policies, and help immigrants become legal citizens.
"Completing my learning at CIRCLE during my junior year was a defining moment for me, both personally and professionally. This experience was the driving force behind my decision to pursue Social Work in the International arena."
Kristie studied abroad in fall of her senior year and worked with GARAS (Gloucestershire Action for Refugee and Asylum Seekers) in Gloucester, England while there. This agency offers support to those seeking asylum. While there, Kristie advocated and supported those who needed it. After her return to the U.S. in the spring semester of her senior year, Kristie worked with both the YWCA of Lancaster After School Program and Amnesty International in York, PA.
"The children, families, and staff were absolutely wonderful. The racial and ethnic diversity of students and staff created the perfect atmosphere for cross-cultural learning..."
After graduating from Elizabethtown College, Kristie went on to receive her MSSW at Columbia University in Social Policy and International Social Welfare. While there, she intered with UNICEF in their policy department as well as with Charity:Water.
Currently, Kristie is the Director of Public Affairs for the Montana Budget and Policy Center (MBPC) in Helena, Montana. The Montana Budget and Policy Center was created in 2008 to provide in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues. Their mission is to advance sound public policy through timely and objective research and analysis in order to promote shared prosperity and opportunity for all Montanans.
"Because we are a small think tank of sorts, I tend to wear a lot of hats. I handle all of our press work, help set our research and policy agendas, and manage our social media accounts. Basically, if it touches on our interface with the public, I take the lead."
Kristie also manages a group called the Partnership for Montana's Future. It's a coalition of over forty organizations that does education, outreach and lobbying on state and federal budget and tax policy. The goal is to ensure that all Montanans understand the role that policy, especially budget and tax policy, play in their daily lives.
When asked how she currently embodies Elizabethtown's motto "Educate for Service" Kristie explained:
"Whether I'm in the halls of the Capitol or sitting in a room full of community members in rural Montana, I have one goal - educate others on how they can make Montana a better place. The how's and the what's might look a little different, but in the end, we're all in this together."
In her personal time, Kristie has started to work on political campaigns.
"It's a phenomenal example of everything you learn in undergraduate social work studies - direct engagement, communication, statistics, and policy. You get to help people find their voice and elect the individuals who will work to make their city, state, or country a better place. It's pretty powerful."
Kristie is not sure about what the future holds for her. The one thing that she knows is that she always wants to go to work happy and go home knowing that she made a difference, no matter how small that difference is.