Katherine Elizabeth Culpepper, Master of Social Work — A Performative Ritual at Smith College

Katie's MSW Smith Graduation 15 August 2015 collage 300dpi

Yesterday, I watched as three letters were magically added to my sister’s last name. Friends, family members, administrators, professors and her fellow classmates filled the auditorium. Her full name was called, a master’s hood was placed around her neck, and Smith College President Kathleen McCartney handed her a well-earned degree. This fancy piece of paper, combined with a ceremonial walk across the stage, is the academic equivalent of being baptised. Katie may now legally sign her emails as Katherine Elizabeth Culpepper, MSW. She spent twenty-seven months completing coursework at one the best schools in the US, worked two eight-month placements (one at Danbury Hospital, CT; the other at the DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, TX), and wrote a thesis on suicide prevention for veterans. She is now qualified to work on becoming a licensed clinical social worker. We couldn’t be more proud of her or the path that she has chosen. Here’s to the transformative power of cultural rituals like commencement ceremonies and therapy sessions. Here’s to those moments when words have the power to do what they say.

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  1. Ann Gamboa
    Posted August 16, 2015 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    you are totally awesome Katie! I am so proud of you . Congratulation on your academic achievements and your perseverance. You will be an asset to all receiving your assistance! My heart is smiling! Thank you!

  2. Maureen Culpepper
    Posted October 7, 2017 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Joe, for writing this beautiful tribute to your little sister. Wonderful words! Dad and I are so proud of both of you and so pleased to be in a family with you two! Love, Mom

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