Current Students

Fall 2014 Cohort

Abigail Abbas, LMSW, comes from Philadelphia, PA where she practiced as a licensed social worker in health care settings and Level 111 Trauma Centers. She specialized in the areas of legal issues, mental health and drug and substance abuse. Ms. Abbas earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work from Temple University. She is committed to advocacy and social change. Ms. Abbas is also interested in integrated health. One of her goals is to bring improved health care to Native American populations.

Marcus Crawford received a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal and Social Justice from Ashford University in 2009. He later returned to Wichita State University (WSU) where he earned a BSW in 2013 and an MSW in 2014. While completing school, Marcus worked with families involved in the foster care system in direct practice for over 10 years. Additionally, he was a foster parent for 7 years. Much of his work and personal experiences have involved older youth in care and youth who were dually adjudicated in foster care and juvenile justice systems. Marcus was a McNair Scholar at WSU and completed a project titled the "Ecological Impact of Rap Music on Youth." A portion of this study will be published (October 2014) in the British Journal of Social Work under the title "Relationship and rap: Using ecomaps to explore the stories of youth who rap." A poster presentation of this research will be presented at the Qualitative Research Conference in January 2015. Marcus’ primary areas of research include youth in foster care or juvenile justice systems and youth who age out of systems of care.

Kris Hohn received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Art from Guilford College in 2007 where she focused on artistic self-expression as a form of self-healing. She completed her Masters of Social Work from University of Texas at Arlington in 2012 In her master’s thesis, she explored the coming out process for LGBTQ young adults and levels of spiritual intelligence development. She presented the findings from her thesis at the annual program meeting of CSWE and the NASW Texas state conference in 2013. Her research areas include LGBTQ young adults, at-risk behaviors, gender identity and expression, the coming out process and spirituality.

Dorothea Ivey completed dual bachelor degrees in Human Services and Nonprofit Administration at the University of North Texas at Dallas in 2010. She is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington with a Master in Social Work, Master in Public Administration, and a Graduate Certificate in Urban Nonprofit Administration. After working as an elementary school teacher for 13 years, she shifted her career into nonprofit administration and leadership in human services agencies while pursuing her second undergrad degree. During the last 4 years, she has worked in the area of efficiency in planning, policy, and evaluation of human services and higher education programs. Her research interests include nonprofit administration, kinship care, community outreach, and African American studies.

Don. R. Kelly, LMSW, earned his undergraduate degree in Social Work from New Mexico State University with minors in Philosophy and Child Advocate Studies. He received his MSW from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2014. Don has worked as the Director of a homeless shelter. He also worked at a Veterans Hospital and various conflict resolution agencies. He has served as president of the board of directors of Dispute Resolution Services of North Texas, Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas where he was recognized as Mediator of the year. He has served as a member of the board for the College of Texas Mediators and served on the City Council in Watauga, Texas. In addition, has held positions with Big Brothers and Big Sisters in New Mexico as President of the Board. Don is a qualified court-appointed mediator in both Texas and New Mexico, and has been a mediation trainer since 1996. His research interests include conflict resolution, restorative justice, conflict coaching, leadership, law, and child advocacy.

Binita Tandukar is from Nepal. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree of Arts in English Literature and Sociology and Master’s Degree in English Literature from the Tribhuvan University in Nepal. She was also primary school teacher in Nepal. Binita completed another Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Nordland in Norway where she completed a thesis on violence against women. Binita is interested in focusing her research on women’s empowerment and on improving social structures that inhibit well-being.

Olga Verbovaya is originally from Russia and received her BSW in Medical Social Work from Togliatti State University of Service, Samara Oblast, Russia. She earned a Fulbright scholarship to complete her MSW in Social Work at the University of Oklahoma. Her research focus is on international adoption and how adoptive families experience dissolution of an international adoption. Her goal is to make an impact in the adoption field, advocate for international adoption, help find suitable homes for all children, and address the multiple issues and controversies surrounding international adoptions.

Sister Paula Ude comes from Nigeria and completed Associate Degree in Social Work in December 0f 2007 at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, Saint Lucia, West Indies. She then went on to complete her Bachelors of Art in Social Work from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas and Masters of Social Work from Our Lady of the Lady University, San Antonio, Texas. Sister Ude’s research interest is in mental health and substance abuse. She is also committed to one day assisting Nigeria develop mental health programming in rural areas.

2013-2014 Cohort


Abdullah Ahmed AlasmariAbdullah Ahmed Alasmari completed his Bachelors of Social Work form Mohammed Bin Saud Islamic University, Saudi Arabia in 2006. He completed his MSW at Western Michigan University in 2012. His research interests areas are: Domestic Violence, Civil Society, and Human Rights.
He completed a teaching and research assistant at Mohammed Bin Saud Islamic University in Saudi Arabia, an internships at the Hispanic American Council and Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of Race & Ethics Relationships, and completed several workshops and certifications in: Social Symposiums Scientific Skills of the Professional Practicing, in Combat Terrorism, Domestic Violence, Social Services Places for Fighting against Drugs, and Project Management. Abdul volunteered at the Prince Salman Charitable Housing.


Alicia BarkerAlicia Barker, LMSW earned her undergraduate degree in social work from Texas Christian University in 2009. She graduated from University of Texas at Arlington in 2011 with her MSSW. She worked for a nonprofit domestic violence agency where she did case management as well as individual and group counseling. After working in the nonprofit field, she served as a victim advocate program manager with a local police department. Her research interests are in the area of intimate partner violence and crisis intervention.


Dante BryantDante Bryant is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington’s graduate School of Social Work. Prior to attending UTA he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from South East Missouri State University. During that time his primary focus was cognitive development/processes. In addition, Dante’ pursued graduate studies in Psychometric Psychology, Theology and Western Philosophical Pragmatism. While attending Vanderbilt University he focused on the intersection between religion, social constructionism, cultural development, postmodernity and identity formation. Dante’ is interested in teaching, clinical practice and research. His primary research interest is the normalization (process, impact and solutions) of counterintuitive cultural packages within the African American community. In addition, he is interested in the relationship between media images and identity formation and service issues related to multi-culturalism.


Jacqueline Burse (Jackie)Jacqueline Burse (Jackie) was born and raised in Detroit. She received her MSW from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan in 2012. She has been working in the field of domestic and sexual violence for over a decade. She was a past Board member of the Michigan Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV) and Chair of the MCADSV Women of Color Taskforce, Jackie has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience working with men, women, and children who witnessed or experienced abuse. Jackie’s research interest includes substance abuse, mental illness, intimate partner violence, homelessness, and mentoring.


Rosalind EvansRosalind Evans received her BSW and MSW at the University of Oklahoma. During her time at the University of Oklahoma, Rosalind presented a poster presentation at the NASW Oklahoma conference focused on the Good Guides Youth Mentoring Program outcomes addressing youth at risk in Oklahoma City public schools. She also presented on her research findings in the MHICM Program at the Oklahoma City Veteran Affairs. Rosalind was awarded the graduate student of the year by the NASW Oklahoma Chapter, and the Direct Practice Advanced Standing student of the year by the University Of Oklahoma School Of Social Work. Rosalind received the opportunity to be hired at her practicum site (Good Guides Youth Mentoring Program) after completing her BSW. She worked within the Oklahoma City Public School district with youth at risk in the areas of poverty, delinquency, truancy, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy. This opportunity shaped her research interests to focus on youth at risk, LGBTQ youth, teen pregnancy prevention, and service learning.


Pamela L. FoxPamela L. Fox, M.A., M.Div. LCSW, CCM is a native of Chicago, IL and has lived with her family in Texas since 2006. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work from Valparaiso University (Valparaiso, IN) in 1975 and her Masters of Arts in Clinical Social Work from the University of Chicago-School of Social Service Administration in 1977.
Pamela received her Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1996, and was the Associate Pastor for Pastoral Counseling and the Director of the Synergy Counseling Center at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago (1999-2004). Additionally, Pamela holds a post-graduate certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from the Family Institute of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL). Over the years, Pamela has worked in diverse fields of Social Work practice, including: medical social work, child welfare, mental health, family services, substance abuse/chemical dependence, HIV/AIDS, and military social work. She has been "tri-vocational", as she continues as a practicing Clinical Social Worker/Behavioral Health Therapist, but now is a retired Ordained Minister in the United Church of Christ and is a retired Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves (Social Worker-Medical Service Corps).Her research interests focus on the integration of primary care and behavioral health, in helping persons with living with diabetes to cope more effectively with depression, anxiety, and stress.


Jeyle OrtizJeyle Ortiz received her Bachelor in Economics from Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon in Mexico. She completed her Master in Economics and Public Policy at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in 2009 (Magna Cum Laude). She has worked as the Head of Analysis and Publications at the Nuevo Leon State Office of Information for Sustainable Regional Development and as Junior Consultant at the Institute for Regional Development of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. Her research interests are family, gender, and poverty. Her dissertation will focus on intra-household decision-making regarding women’s labor supply.


Rupal ParekhRupal Parekh was raised in Oklahoma, where she received her undergraduate degree in Sociology. She completed a dual degree in Social Work and Pubic Health in May of 2004 from Columbia University School of Social Work. Early in her career, she volunteered at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Destitute and Dying, organizing homeless rescue teams, facilitating weekly individual-counseling sessions, and collaborating with local non-profit organizations in providing additional services to homeless clients. After completing her master degrees, she worked at Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity in New York City, where she published “Senior Gambling: Risk or Reward.” Rupal comes to the program with years of experiences in non-profit development, hospice, homecare and nursing home management and community organizing. Her research interests include mental health of older immigrant populations and familial caregiving stress and burden.


Leona PetersonLeona Peterson, LMSW received her Bachelor’s degree in experimental psychology in 2009 from the University of Texas at Arlington. As an undergraduate, she was a research assistant to two professors in addition to two Ph.D. students whose interests included neuro- and social psychology. She received her MSSW from University of Texas at Arlington in 2012. Leona volunteered at a mental health clinic for individual with HIV/AIDS, facilitating weekly group-counseling sessions, as well as collaborating with the executive director in grant writing. She was an adult mental health caseworker at Tarrant County MHMR where she discovered her primary research interest was in the area of non-psychotropic interventions in severe and persistent mental illness, especially schizophrenia. Her other research interests include LGBTQQ issues, HIV/AIDS+ issues, and the development of psychometrics.


Scott SainatoScott Sainato, LMSW is from Columbus, Ohio. He earned his BSW from the University of North Texas in 2006 and joined Phi Alpha honor society. He earned his MSW in 2008 from Texas A&M–Commerce and was elected as President of the Masters of Social Work Student Association while attending Texas A&M. He worked in areas of at-risk students, foster care, hospice, and was the program director for outpatient geriatric counseling program. His areas of interest include mental health focusing on adolescents to young adults.


Donna SchumanDonna Schuman, LCSW, received a BA in Psychology from the University of Maryland in Europe in 1993. She later earned a M.Ed. in Counseling & Personnel Services from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1995 and went on to complete an MSSW at the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. She is certified in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback by the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA), and holds a specialty certificate in Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback. Donna has worked for the Army and Veterans Administration as a social worker. She was selected as a 2013 Tillman Military Scholar by the Pat Tillman Foundation. Her research interests are in the area of biofeedback and PTSD interventions with combat veterans.

2012-2013 Cohort


Lester CollinsLester Collins, Jr., MDiv, MSW, is from the Twin Cities, MN. He earned his Master of Divinity from Andrews University in 2003. As a pastor he focused on youth, counseling, teaching, and community resources.  He earned his MSSW from St. Ambrose University in May 2012 and was the Men's Intensive Outpatient Counselor at a hospital-based substance abuse treatment center in IL. He and his family recently moved to Arlington. He is interested in teaching, clinical practice, and research. His research interests focus on the impact of health and spirituality on the prevention and recovery of addiction.



Brandi FelderhoffBrandi Felderhoff received her BSW from the University of North Texas in 2008, during which time she was selected as Social Work Student of the Year by her faculty and peers.  She received her MSW from Texas A&M University - Commerce in 2010, and during her studies there, was awarded the Student of the Year award from the Dallas Chapter of NASW.  Brandi is the current NASW Branch Chair for the Texoma Branch of NASW Texas.  As a social worker, Brandi has worked in the areas of guardianship, hospice and inpatient mental health treatment.  Her primary research interests are in the area of mental health prevention interventions for active duty military personnel.


Lily KimLily Kim received a Bachelor’s degree in Library and Information Science from Sookmyung Women’s University and in 2008 received a MSW from Sookmyung Women’s University in Korea. She worked as an assistant manager at a community center working with Southeast Asian immigrants who came to Korea as marriage immigrants.  She also worked as a researcher at the Korea Health Industry Development Institute where she participated in a project aimed at the prevention of chronic disease among group of senior citizens. In 2010, Lily entered our MSW program at UTA. Her internships at Catholic Charities and Recovery Resource Council led to her research interest in the area of immigrants’ issues with mental health and substance abuse.


Cecilia MengoCecilia Mengo was born and raised in Kenya. She received her Bachelor’s in Human Geography from Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya in 2003. She completed her Masters of Social Work in spring of 2012 from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green Kentucky, where she received the 2012 Outstanding Graduate Student award.  Cecilia also received a certificate in poverty reduction in developing countries from Weitz Center for Development Studies in Rehovot, Israel in the year 2008. Born and raised in rural areas, Cecilia’s research will focus on women empowerment in rural and informal settlements nationally and internationally. Her research will also focus on policies that hinder women empowerment which is drawn from her seven years of experience working on issues of community development and social entrepreneurship with national and international organizations in Kenya.  Cecilia also worked as an intern with International Center for Refugees and the Family Resource Program in Bowling Green, Kentucky. She is currently serving as a co-founder and a board member of Laikipia Community Empowerment Center, a grass root Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Laikipia District, Kenya. The NGO was established in 2010 to create a platform for people to address issues that affect their day to day life and improve their livelihoods.

2011-2012 Cohort


Tracey BarnettTracey Barnett, LMSW a native from Ripley, MS, moved Arlington to attend the PhD program here at UT Arlington. She received her undergraduate degree in 2008 from the School of Social Work, University of Mississippi, where she was awarded the NASW Undergraduate Social Work Student of the Year. She completed her Master of Social Work in May of 2011 from the University of Alabama (UA). While attending UA, she completed three poster presentations and assisted a student with a veteran’s research project. In spring of 2011 Tracey completed an internship with the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. She is interested in researching the social determinants of health, health disparities and health equity in the African American community.


Kingsley ChigbuKingsley Chigbu received his undergraduate degree in International Law and Diplomacy from Babcock University. In Spring of 2009, he completed his MSSW degree from the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota, where he completed a study on The Effects of New Medical Diagnoses on PTSD Sequelae in Adults: Implications for Preventative Health Practice and received the 2009 MSW Student Leadership Award. Prior to joining the PhD program, Kingsley worked as a research coordinator at the University of St. Thomas and at the University of Minnesota, Amplatz Children's Hospital. His primary research interest is on large scale/group violence and international social policy.


Shannon GravesShannon Graves, LMSW earned her Bachelor of Science in Social Work at Texas Christian University and her MSSW at UT Arlington. Her professional background is in non-profit development and grant writing, community organizing, and substance abuse prevention. She currently works as Program Director for Community Coalitions at Drug Prevention Resources, Inc. Shannon’s research interests are in the field of restorative justice, where she hopes to build on restorative solutions for addressing societal and cultural issues of violence, crime, and conflict. She is also interested in engaging in international peacemaking efforts.


Yi Jin KimYi Jin Kim received his BSW from Baptist Theological University in Korea. He completed his MSSW degree at the UT Arlington in 2011 and completed a thesis which was a quantitative study examining the relationship between suicidal behaviors and physical and psycho-social predictors among adolescents. His research interests focus in the areas of adolescence, aging, substance use, and suicide.


Arati MalekuArati Maleku received her MSW from Washington University in St. Louis and her BSW from St. Xavier’s College, Kathmandu, Nepal. Born and raised in Nepal, she comes to the program with many years of experience in grassroots community-based organizations. Until recently, she worked with the largest healthcare foundation in Missouri where she was involved in several funded projects in the areas of tobacco control, healthcare workforce development, chronic disease prevention, violence against women, and obesity prevention. Her research interests are in the areas of social determinants of health and health equity. She is also interested in examining the role of economic globalization on global health disparities.


Kathleen M. PrebleKathleen M. Preble, LMSW born and raised in Ohio; received her BA in Political Science from the Ohio University Athens, Ohio, in 1999. In 2000, she joined the United States Peace Corps and served in Honduras, Central America for nearly three years. She completed her MSSW degree from the UT Arlington in 2005. For the past six years, Kathleen has worked with the refugee and human trafficking victim population in Fort Worth in social service and law enforcement agencies. Her research interests include human trafficking intervention and the use of neuroscience in social work.


Diana PryorDiana Pryor completed her BSW and MSSW from the UT Arlington. Her areas of practice are in the field of aging and mental health. She has worked in long term care as a Texas State Ombudsman and also as a licensed social worker in two nursing facilities. Diana focused additional learning on nursing facility administration in which she completed a required 1000-hour internship. She wants to enhance her skills in research methodology and apply them to the study of mental health within the aging population. Her ultimate goal is to teach geriatric social work in a college setting and to increase gerontological competencies in the social work profession.


Cara WallaceCara Wallace, LMSW is a 2006 graduate of our MSSW program. She received her undergraduate degree in social work at Texas Christian University in 2005. For the past five years, she has worked as a clinical social worker for Community Hospice of Texas. Her research interests are in hospice, ethical issues in healthcare, and in healthy family relationships.