Nicole Stroke speaks about how she found the Infant Mental Health-Developmental Practice (IMH-DP) Master’s program and how it has changed her outlooks on her career and parenting.

My name is Nicole Stroke. I am an older sister to a sixteen-year-old, and the eldest child to my mother, who emigrated from Peru. I have a love for travelling and try to take every opportunity I can to learn more about various cultures. I graduated from SUNY Binghamton with a BA in Biological Sciences. After graduation, I was not sure what I wanted to do, so I volunteered as a crisis counselor at the Long Island Crisis Center and as an Emergency Medical Technician at my local fire department. My decision to work with children in the mental health field came from teaching English as a volunteer teacher in Fes, Morocco for an entire summer and through interning at the Leadership Training Institute. Both of these opportunities involved working with at-risk youth and their families, which determined my dream to become a social worker serving families.

I chose to pursue a Masters in Social Work as a part-time student so that I may continue to volunteer and intern. During one of my social work courses, the director of the Infant Mental Health-Developmental Practice program, Gilbert Foley, came into the classroom to tell us about the program. I was truly amazed that such a program existed, because once he presented it, I felt that everyone should know that relationship-based programs such as this exist. I immediately wanted to be part of helping parent-child dyads bond from the earliest age possible. After being accepted, I knew that this program would help fulfill my desire to become a social worker with a specialty in working with young children and their families.

I was not very sure of what to expect on a day-to-day basis in the program at first; I expected to have a classroom and internship experiences only. Instead, this program has given me a complete outlook on the field by being involved in case conferences and choosing a topic of my choice to work on as an integrative project. I have a completely different outlook on parenting, and on how impactful the earliest years of a child’s life are to his or her future. From learning about theory and different interventions used to promote healthier family relationships, I now see how vital it is to refer more people to these services. I feel very fortunate to be part of a cohort filled with people of different backgrounds and experiences in their respective fields. Every day we learn from both the classroom and from each other.
I am currently in the third month of the program, and feel that I have already learned a lot about dyadic practice and about myself. The material has led me to reflect upon my own relationships, and consider how they have affected the trajectory of my life. I feel confident that I will use this realization in my future clinical practice, and I look forward to becoming part of a field involved in early prevention and intervention for a child’s well-being. I hope to work in either a hospital or clinic setting providing services to children and their families.

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