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A Non-traditional Path to Success

By Clarke News  |  May 8, 2023
Meghan Smith Clarke student

In 2021, Meghan Smith had reached a crossroads in her life. She was going through a divorce and contemplating a career change. Through the support of her family, including her father Clarke alumnus Dave Smith, she found a path forward at Clarke.  

“I decided to come back to school after being a full-time mom and part-time yoga teacher. I knew it was the right time to do something I could be passionate about instead of just finding a job to pay the bills,” Meghan said. “I was drawn to Clarke for a few reasons: My dad graduated from Clarke and did so as a non-traditional student. I wanted to do my learning in-person, and I wanted to obtain a Master of Social Work degree. It seemed like an easy decision to choose the only school in Dubuque that had both a BSW and MSW program.” 

While enrolling was an easy decision for Meghan, that doesn’t mean the program was without challenges. She worried about fitting in when she was older than some of the professors, let alone her peers. She also had to balance raising her two daughters and working at the yoga studio while completing her studies. Thankfully, she connected with her professors who helped her exceed even her own expectations. 

“All the social work professors are amazing. They have been so helpful and have made me feel like I fit in. I have especially enjoyed my Social Work Policy, Diversity and Privilege, and Practice I and II courses,” Meghan said. “The program has given me a greater understanding of and experience in the field too. For example, I have volunteered at The Multicultural Family Center. This started as a 20-hour requirement for my Social Work 101 class, but I ended up staying on after my hours were up because I enjoyed it so much.” 

On May 13, Meghan will graduate magna cum laude with her bachelor’s degree in social work. To Meghan, being able to celebrate commencement with her daughters makes all the hard work worth it.   

“I am proud of finishing up my Capstone paper, research course, and coming to the end of my field practicum. These are things that seemed so daunting at the beginning of year and now they are done,” Meghan said. “I remember my first two weeks at Clarke and feeling so out of place because of my age. I wanted to quit, but I pushed myself, I did not quit on myself, and I am so happy I did not because it has been such a great experience. I am going right into the Master of Social Work Program next fall, so this is not the end. I am proud of my accomplishments and am excited to see what the next year brings.”