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Student Spotlight: Janelle FitzPatrick, M.S.S. '24

May 6, 2024
Janelle FitzPatrick

Janelle FitzPatrick has always been interested in a career that involves helping people. 

After earning an undergraduate degree in Spanish, pivoting from an interest in becoming a pediatrician, she did a year of volunteer work with City Year Greater Philadelphia. She continued working in various social service and non-profit positions before ending up at the School District of Philadelphia. Within her seven-year tenure there, she worked her way up to the role of Director of District Solutions and Constituent Relations. 

As she started to think about advancing in her field, she realized she needed a master’s degree to do so. 

“I knew it was a now or never situation,” says FitzPatrick. She began taking classes in Counseling Psychology but was persuaded to pursue an MSW instead. “After doing research and talking to different people, they told me ‘If you’re going to pursue your MSW, you probably need to do it at Bryn Mawr.’ So that’s how I came to the decision of attending.”  

After doing her first-year worksite placement with the school district, FitzPatrick decided to pursue a more clinically focused second-year placement with Healing Hurt People (HHP). HHP is a hospital and community-linked violence intervention program that provides trauma focused support services to those who have experienced or witnessed violence.  

In addition to her work at HHP, FitzPatrick leads a psychoeducational group on trauma and violence prevention at the Community College of Philadelphia’s Center for Male Engagement and at Mill Creek School.  

As co-president of the Graduate Student Association leadership council, FitzPatrick is very involved with the GSSWSR community. In addition to voicing concerns raised by students to the administration, she collaborates with the student services team to plan community-building activities.  

“I try to be intentional about building community and not just flying through the program, but actually immerse myself in the culture and get to know other students,” says FitzPatrick.  

Her community-building efforts have not gone unnoticed, as she earned the McPherson Award in 2023, which honors outstanding faculty, staff, and students within Bryn Mawr College’s undergraduate and graduate programs who are recognized for excellence and service to the community, both within and beyond the boundaries of Bryn Mawr. She was also nominated to Bryn Mawr’s Community Building Honor Roll, an initiative to recognize and celebrate important student contributions to the quality of campus life. Lastly, she has been chosen as one of this year’s recipients of the Dr. Kevin J. Robinson Award.  

After graduation, FitzPatrick plans to return to the School District of Philadelphia to do more direct practice work, in the area of trauma, with students and families in the city. “Instead of penalizing trauma responses, we need to intervene and ameliorate outcomes for our children and youth,” says FitzPatrick. 

She looks back at her journey at the GSSWSR with gratitude. “I feel like the GSSWSR has been an environment where I went from surviving to thriving academically. It has been conducive, not only to my learning, but also my personal growth. I’ve made meaningful relationships and networked with other people that ultimately would be beneficial to me in my career path. It has been a great experience and I’m happy that I chose Bryn Mawr.”