Meet Starletta S.

Human Services Graduate

“The human services career path is challenging and at the same time it’s also one of the most rewarding there is.”

Human Services alumna Starletta Smith ’08 understands one core truth about her career choice – it’s not an easy job, but at the end of the day, you’re making a real impact on people’s lives and the community as a whole.

As executive director of YWCA of the Greater Capital Region (YWCA-GCR), Starletta oversees a social service agency with an historic past and a hopeful future. YWCA-GCR – which celebrated its 100th anniversary at the same Troy location in 2017 - helps women and children with housing, advocacy, career preparation and other services to help them thrive and grow.

“We’re here to eliminate racism and empower women,” she said.

Starletta began working at YWCA-GCR just after graduating in 2008 and took over the organization’s top post 12 years later. She’s currently overseeing a $2.8 million renovation to the 100-year-old building that she hopes will keep YWCA moving forward “for another 100 years.”

“The human services career path is challenging and at the same time it’s also one of the most rewarding there is,” she said. “The professors in these programs let you know that and they have a real commitment to helping people reach their potential. I could not have chosen a better career path, not only because I’m successful at it but because I feel like this is my life’s work.”

Starletta actually started her higher education journey with hopes of joining the funeral service profession in the college’s Mortuary Science program, but after meeting with the Human Services and Chemical Dependency Counseling faculty, the self-described introvert discovered a different career calling.

“I made an appointment with Ms. Pepe and Dr. Deighan and I fell in love with their passion. I wanted those same characteristics in the career I was pursuing - the love, dedication and passion that the professors in the Human Services and Chemical Dependency Counseling have,” she said. “I can make more money in another field, but in human services the reward I receive every day is helping give people the tools they need to succeed.”

Starletta continued her Human Services education through an evening program housed right on the Hudson Valley campus and earned a B.S. from Cazenovia College. She also completed a master’s degree from Southern New Hampshire University.

Human services careers are “investments in people and an investment in their potential,” she said. “We’re helping people and we are saving lives. Our impact is huge.”

A dozen years after graduating, she still thanks the Human Services faculty who held her accountable and made her think about her life and career in a new way. It wasn’t just being in a classroom, learning facts, she said. The foundation of her education was about inspiring people to have an impact on their community. “Hudson Valley helped me become my truest self. Because of that help from Hudson Valley, I am what I am today.”

Find out more about programs available in the Human Services and Chemical Dependency Counseling Department at Hudson Valley Community College.

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Starletta S. '08

Starletta S. '08

Human Services Graduate

Starletta talks about being inspired by her faculty members and her decision to pursue a career in the field.
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