Cheer on Silver School's Tammy Smith at NYU's 2016 Lightning Challenge

Silver School MSW student Tammy Smith.
Silver School MSW student Tammy Smith.

On September 21st, NYU Silver will be represented by Tammy Smith, MSW ’17, in the University’s 2016 Lightning Challenge, which is being held in honor of NYU President Andrew Hamilton’s inauguration. The entire Silver School community is encouraged to come cheer her on – and participate in the voting for the $500 audience choice award.

Tammy is one of only six master's-level students selected to participate in the competition, in which graduate students are challenged "to impart the significance of their academic research and creative projects, and to engage and excite a general audience about their work, using nothing more than their knowledge, passion, and three minutes!"

Tammy’s presentation stems from work she has been doing as Chairperson of Fair Lawn, NJ’s Stigma-Free Task Force, which promotes community awareness about the societal impact of mental illness. Her three-minute talk will focus on stigma and mental illness, citing Erving Goffman’s seminal research on the theory of stigma, and drawing comparisons to how other diseases are perceived. Of course, there will be some surprises in her scant 180-second presentation as well.

NYU Silver will have a contingent to cheer Tammy on at 5:00pm on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at the Eisner & Lubin Auditorium, NYU Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square South, Room 401.


                                                                                                          A student in the Advanced Standing Program at the Rockland County campus, Tammy is a dynamo who has long manifested her passion for mental health advocacy through volunteerism for NAMI New Jersey as well as Fair Lawn Stigma-Free Task Force. The single mother of a six-year-old son, she decided to pursue her social work education four years ago so she could formally put her passion to work. She received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Ramapo College of New Jersey in December 2015, and is a case manager at outpatient mental health clinic Care Plus NJ as well as an MSW student. Tammy also serves as the 2016-2017 Graduate Student Representative on the National Association of Social Workers, New Jersey Chapter Board of Directors.

Tammy explained, "I was drawn to the Silver School for its strength in integrated primary and behavioral health as well as in policy and advocacy. I am excited to be doing my field placement at Rockland Psychiatric Center and once I get my MSW and licensure, I hope to work in integrated health at a hospital with individuals who have been diagnosed with serious mental illness." Long-term, when her son is older, she plans to pursue a career in mental health advocacy working with governmental officials and policymakers to enhance service delivery and improve human rights for people with mental disorders. Through her volunteerism she has already worked with and spoken before state and local elected officials, but she sees her NYU Silver degree "as a gateway to a future at the policy and legislative level."