Alumni Spotlight: Shamont Hussey
Shamont Hussey is an Oakland native, passionate about his community, youth and families. He has served as an outspoken advocate for queer and minority youth within the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. He believes in the need for education, equity, and access for the marginalized and oppressed. Hussey has worked with youth and families for more than 20 years; he has worked for nonprofits, youth advocacy groups, social services and within the juvenile and family courts. Hussey is now a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) practicing within the Bay Area.
Q&A with Shamont Hussey (B.A., Child & Adolescent Development, '08; MSW, '10)
What are your three favorite things about SF State and the Department of Child & Adolescent Development (CAD)?
When I returned to college to complete my bachelor’s degree in 2005, I was a working student who lived in Oakland and worked in San Francisco. SF State most appealed to me because it seemed to be a commuter school with an active student body and welcoming campus life.
One of my favorite things as a returning student was the support and guidance I received from the University when I transferred in and from my CAD advisor when I finally selected a major. I was encouraged to explore classes outside of my concentration which afforded me a glimpse at some of the really cool discussion and work being done in courses outside of Child & Adolescent Development.
My most favorite thing about SF State back in 2005 was that it was affordable. As a student returning to college, I was able to continue my youth work in the community and pay for college without taking on tremendous debt to complete my bachelor’s degree.
What is your fondest SF State memory?
As a working student, I took classes in the morning and worked a swing shift until the wee hours of the night. This meant that I sometimes got very little sleep between leaving work at 12 a.m. and returning to class at 8 a.m. I did a lot of studying and writing on campus between classes and before work. On some of those long days between classes, I had to get a few naps in wherever I could. On the Terrace Level of the Cesar Chavez Student Center, I can recall reading for a psychology class and falling asleep. My backpack was left open, my binder, notepad and iPod were also sitting out. When I awoke (from a good deep sleep), there were different people sitting around me with subtle grins. All of my stuff had been gathered and placed in my bag with a note that said, “I packed your stuff away for you. Did you know you snored?” After reading the note, I realized the students around me might have noticed (heard) my snore too.
Do you have a professor, coach or mentor who helped shape your SF State experience?
Yes, Dr. Laurie Meschke and Dr. Laura Head were amazing supports for me. I had Dr. Head my first semester at SF State. She challenged my writing and required I research my anecdotal approaches to working with youth and families in my community. We would often discuss additional readings after class that she would suggest or theories she would present that challenged my professional framework. Dr. Meschke was my CAD advisor. She encouraged me to be open to the joys of research and the importance of having my best practice when serving youth and families to be informed by research.
Of all the classes you took as a student, what is the one class you would recommend everyone take as a must-do, life-changing experience?
One of my favorite classes was Developmental Play Process with Dr. Erik Rosegard. This was one of my favorite classes. I learned the importance of play in the lives of children, youth and adults. I learned how to use incorporate play into the learning processing. Dr. Rosegard modeled this in class and allowed for students to lead activities on their own in class to gain confidence and demonstrate some of the principles discussed in class. I have used many of the techniques and strategies to use play in the learning process while working with children, youth, and other professionals in my field.
Was there a defining moment at SF State that led you on the path to where you are today?
The CAD staff and advisors were so inviting when I went to check out the department. I was considering Recreation, Parks & Tourism as a major, as well as Psychology. From the first time I walked into the CAD office, the warmth of the office staff and helpfulness of the professors sold me on CAD. This led me to be a proud CAD alumnus and now an honored CAD professor thanks to the examples and encouragement of Soyeon Park and Laurie Meschke.
How has your education and experience at SF State help prepare you for your current career?
I am a proud SF State alumnus of Child & Adolescent Development, as well as the School of Social Work, where I received my Master’s Degree. SF State provided me a well-rounded and diverse learning experience with instructors that care about their students and are passionate about the content of their course.
Many alumni choose to stay engaged with SF State and their professors and departments after graduation. What inspires you to give back and stay connected to your alma mater?
The commitment of my professors inspired me to return. Seeing how committed they were to me and how committed they are with each new and returning student, inspires me to give back, in hopes that students will share the positive and enlightening experience I had at SF State.
What advice/career tips would you give to current students and young alumni?
Volunteer….volunteer…volunteer! Volunteering provides an opportunity to explore the work/field of interest, get know people in the field (potential employers or references) and to acquire work experience. Remember that each connection you make could be the connection that leads you to the next phase of growth in your professional career.