Charity Smith '12

Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree?
The day I stop learning is the day I die … so what better to prepare me for that day than a thanatology degree? Ultimately, my career path is an amalgam of three aims: to conduct research in the area of suicide; to counsel the bereaved; and to teach within the disciplines of psychology and thanatology. For all of these, graduated study is essential.

Why did you choose Hood College Graduate School?
There are, quite literally, only a handful of schools that offer a degree in what it is that I study. I was lucky enough to be attending a premiere school for thanatology as an undergraduate when I discovered my passion.

What do you value most about your relationships with your professors?
My professors were the most genuine people I know. They were there to dust me off when I skin my academic knees; they were the first to take me to task when I went astray; they were my cheerleaders for all of my endeavors; and they were alongside me, whether celebrating my accomplishments or cursing my defeats.

What was your most rewarding class or academic experience at Hood? Why?
Choosing only one shortchanges a host of experiences and relationships that characterize my time at Hood. So I will select two. First, as an undergrad, it was Professor Martin who encouraged me to try my hand at graduate course work in thanatology. With his encouragement, I was allowed the unique opportunity to develop my interests before earning my bachelor’s degree. Second, in my last year of graduate study, Professor MacDougall allowed me to design and teach my own lecture to gain teaching experience. It was an absolutely incredible opportunity, not only because it reaffirmed my desire to become an educator, but also it allowed me to see that my professors view me as a junior colleague. Outside of these two experiences, I have forged relationships with two of my professors that place them in the roles of mentors and role models. There is little more I could ask of my experiences at Hood.

How do you manage your many other obligations such as work and family with the demands of graduate school?
Three words: Color. Coded. Planner. Buy highlighters and create a key; it will save your life.

Can you offer any tips to prospective students?
This is your education. If you come to Hood expecting to go with the flow, you will miss out on a wealth of opportunities. Forge your own path and rely on the support of those around you to do so.

When you aren’t in class, what is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
Take my bike or hiking shoes and head out into the woods to earn my J.D. Salinger merit badge. It’s the only way to preserve my sanity.