Field Spotlight: Beth and Katie, SMYRC Portland

For Katie Borofka and her Master of Social Work (MSW) field instructor Bethprana Novi, an invaluable learning opportunity came in Katie’s field internship with the Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC), a program of New Avenues for Youth. 

A student in the School of Social Work’s 3-year Master of Social Work program, Katie completed her field placement with SMYRC, a safe, supervised harassment-free space for sexual and gender minority youth to participate in positive activities. These include experiences like art, music, community organizing, open mic nights, drag shows, and support groups. Youth at SMYRC also have access to support services, such as case management, counseling, education, and more.

Image of Beth and Katie holding SMYRC sign

I have enjoyed working with youth. Having the opportunity to bear witness to their incredible stories of courage and resilience has been a humbling experience.

“There are few places where lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans youth are safe to explore their sexuality and gender identities/roles. SMYRC is one of those safe places,” says Bethprana Novi, field instructor. Beth provided weekly educational supervision for Katie, supporting the development of her social work practice. 

“My weekly time with Beth has proved invaluable, as I am able to debrief about many challenging situations, as well   as talk about concepts and theories and how they can actually work in practice,” says Katie. For instance, she looked at the Identity vs Role Confusion stage of Erikson's Theory of Social Development and applied that to her work with LGBT youth. Integrating this theory into her practice deepened her understanding of how LGBT youth often deal with rejection, discrimination and oppression from institutions, religions, politicians, family and peers and how that affects identity development. 

Katie developed a partnership with Volunteers of America to offer a Healthy Relationships Group for youth at SMYRC. This collaboration led to a group that was well-attended, educational, and a safe space for youth to build new relationship skills.

“From the beginning I was confident in her ability to empathize and build rapport with brave young people who are many times vulnerable in every other space they frequent,” says Elaina Medina, Katie’s day-to-day task supervisor. “Katie had the ability to support and engage youth in the most calming, trauma-informed way, which is critical when serving this dynamic population. If we approach youth in crisis with crisis, then that is where they stay. Katie engages youth on a level that promotes safety and stability.”  

“I have absolutely loved my time at SMYRC,” says Katie. “The staff is small and mighty, and I was able to cultivate authentic and deep relationships with my coworkers. Forming these relationships has helped me understand my role in the space better, and I felt included in decision-making and case staffing conversations. I have enjoyed working with youth. Having the opportunity to bear witness to their incredible stories of courage and resilience has been a humbling experience.”


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