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Nurit Fischer Shemer, MSW '13

“Social work gave me tools to start looking at [multigenerational international mass trauma] in a professional way…[it] gave me the urge to keep documenting how people cope and learning the lessons as a social work researcher.”

Following a career in social work was something Nurit Fischer didn’t initially anticipate, despite her early and unceasing cognizance of the helping vocations. Fluent in Hebrew, Spanish and English, Fischer came to the States from Israel, where she earned a BSc in Pharmacy from The Hebrew University and an MAEd in Science and Technology Education from Ben-Gurion University, and began work as a volunteer and freelance licensed interpreter in courts, hospitals, schools and social settings.

“One day I had a client in social services in downtown Buffalo. It was the second or third time I had interpreted for that client,” recalls Fischer. “While I was interpreting, I lifted my head and saw this nice social work diploma and thought, ‘Why should I just be the interpreter? I can be the social worker.’”

That thought translated into immediate action. Fischer stopped at Buffalo State College on her way home to inquire about a bachelor’s in social work; recognizing her extensive experience and background in human services and related fields, they advised her to apply to the UBSSW’s MSW program. Now a PhD student in the UB SSW, Fischer’s cosmopolitan mentality and ambition benefit many of her fellow classmates.

“I am working on the development of a program to provide support for international students. Now I’m working on a resource book that was originally for MSWs, but we are in the process of expanding it for PhD students as well,” says Fischer. “I'm also working with a support group, where I meet with students who have issues dealing with not just academics and language, but change of culture, country and environment.”

Interested in the effects of multigenerational international trauma, Fischer’s research is focused on second and third generation survivors, with a particular concern for issues related to Holocaust offspring. “Although developing coping mechanisms, the second generation is getting older, and with their experience growing up with the conspiracy of silence and other issues dominant in historical traumas, things like secondary trauma and depression emerge,” she notes. “Social work gave me tools to start looking at this in a professional way, and the fact that the first generation is almost not with us anymore gave me the urge to keep documenting how people cope and learning the lessons as a social work researcher. This is imperative because as a world, we’re creating more historical trauma, so future generations will also have to deal these issues. We need to provide them a means to do that.”