Ali Smith, Pittsburg State’s campus victim advocate housed at PSU since 2005, has vacated her position for another at the Safehouse Crisis Center.
“It was never something that was in my plan to begin with, I guess,” Smith said. “In undergrad I joined Students for Violence Prevention (SVP) and I became very passionate about the issues of violence prevention, sexual and domestic violence prevention, so as I grew in that group and presented and educated others and talked with survivors on campus, it was something I just kind of fell into and started doing without even realizing it, then I started doing it as a job.”
Smith graduated from PSU her passion lead her straight into a job centered around her passion.
“I would say that PSU is where it all started for me, as I said as a student as undergrad and in grad school is where I really found my passion in violence prevention and really wanting to make my environment and my campus a safe place for other people and for everyone,” she said. “So I just got opportunity and opportunity around me and got a chance to grow and learn and help others around me grow the way they helped me grow and educate them.”
Smith is now the Prevention Education Specialist at Safehouse and will create programs in the seven counties that Safehouse serves. She will also lead in helping community members and teaching workshops in many places. Workshops she will teach will be at not just college campuses but also at businesses, various other schools, and many more.
“Now I’m excited to start educating others in the communities in Crawford county and the other six counties Safehouse serves as well,” Smith said.
Not to worry, though, Pitt State has already gone through the necessary interviewing process to find a new victim advocate. Stephanie Spitz, PSU graduate, has taken over the position as campus victim advocate and SVP advisor.
“I just fell in love with psychology and advocacy and just decided to turn it into a career and as luck would have it that ended up happening,” Spitz said.
Spitz was also a member of SVP as a student, which led to her interest in becoming an advocate.
“I know in the past couple years I wasn’t active in Gorillas in Your Midst or SVP in my masters because that’s a whole different ball game and I just wasn’t able to and I really missed that interaction, that piece of myself and of what I do, and so getting back in the swing of things is very comforting and I enjoy it and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to where this career takes me moving forward,” she said.
After graduating, Spitz began working at Safehouse assisting victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and more.
“As luck would have it as I was just finishing my internship in teaching Psych as a profession with Dr. Allison a day shelter advocate position opened up and Brooke Powell really encouraged me to apply for It, and so I interviewed and it went really well and it just seemed like an easy, something comfortable, like a sweater to just put on and go forth because I really enjoyed it, I loved being there I loved working there,” Spitz said.
While she is still working at the Safehouse she will now be housed on campus to help students who have been victims of sexual and domestic violence.
“For me it feels like home, PSU is my home, this is where I fell in love with psychology, my now husband, all my great friendships, everything,” Spitz said. “I feel like I’ve gone through this sort of butterfly chrysalis process at PSU and truly becoming who I was meant to be, so for me it’s very much a homecoming, a very welcome homecoming, just to still be a part of PSU is an incredible privilege and an honor.”
Spitz graduated from PSU with her master’s in psychology and knew she wanted to go into psychology education, starting with becoming an advocate.
“For my role I’m really looking forward to the advocacy piece with the students as well as the presentations and the training opportunities that I get to do,” she said. “By nature I’m an educator, I’m an advocate, so I really want to encourage being a safe place for students to go to and being able to seek help and seek resources in case they are ever victims of violence, and I just want them to know that there is someone here, PSU does care, and I care highly and I just want to make sure the students here are taken care of in any category they need.”