Fall 2016 Cohort
Tom Casolaro, LCSW, of Fairhope, Alabama, earned his MSW (1996) at The University of Alabama. He has extensive clinical experience in working with children, adolescents, and families in a variety of health and mental health settings. Additionally, Tom has directed program development and evaluation within non-profit agencies and organizations in establishing an effective continuum of care to at-risk, vulnerable populations, including the areas of foster care, adoption, and international access to health care. He also earned a Master’s of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (2001). His research interests are primarily concentrated around mitigating effects of child/adolescent maltreatment and trauma, intimate partner & family violence, disparities in access and quality of health and mental health services among members of underserved populations, professional identity and competency through EBP, and conducting interdisciplinary research to enhance the development of policy and practice among vulnerable population. Lastly, Tom has a clinical interest in family dynamics, barriers and gaps in formal/informal education, parenthood, and critical transitions through life stages. Upon completion of his studies, Tom plans to conduct and direct original research and dynamically instruct the next generation of social work researchers and practitioners.
Brittany Eghaneyan, LMSW, graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Science and Psychology. In 2013, Brittany received her Masters of Science in Social Work from The University of Texas at Arlington with a focus in community and administrative practice. Brittany's Master's Thesis was a qualitative case study of a University-Community partnership project titled METRIHC: Measuring and Tracking Integrated Health Care, for which she worked as a Graduate Research Assistant. Her findings were published by the Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare in 2014. Prior to entering the PhD program, Brittany has had several experiences coordinating federally-funded research projects including her role as a Research Study Coordinator for the Department of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center and her current position as a Project Coordinator for the University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work. Her research interests include mental health care for minority populations, health disparities, and trauma-informed care within primary care settings.
Latocia Keyes, LMSW is a native Texan who received her undergraduate degree in Communications and minor in Psychology from Dallas Baptist University in 2005. She received her MSSW from UT Arlington in 2011. Since receiving her MSSW degree, she worked in mental health and chemical dependency at Millwood Hospital as an Access Counselor providing comprehensive assessments to determine the best level of care for a diverse and myriad population ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics. She was an Outpatient Therapist with Texas Health Springwood mainly working with the adolescent population diagnosed with mental health disorders. In 2014, Latocia transitioned to substitute teaching and later went back to the Social Work field; working as a Project (Program) Manager for Communities in Schools. Latocia realized that her passion is in teaching, and thus, wants a career in academia. Her research interests are African-American/Black Studies, substance abuse, mental health, incarceration, and high risk populations.
Skylar Joyner is a graduate of the School of Social Work at the University of Oklahoma and has been a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Fellow Technical Writing Specialist since 2012. His research interests focus on sustainable funding development, executive leadership, emerging technology, technology innovation, entrepreneurship, management, grant writing, research development, affordable housing development, and information technology (IT) management in public and nonprofit sectors. He also has strong interests in consumer life spending cycles, the integration of technology and societal interactions for the public good, and pays special attention to integrating technology, human services, and biometrics towards improving society. His current research projects examine the interdisciplinary utilization of biometrics and cyber technology towards improving peoples' lives and the impact of middle management within nonprofits. He graduated from The University of Oklahoma summa cum laude with an MSW specializing in Grant Writing Development for Nonprofit Organizations. He has fifteen years of working experience in the public services sector as a human resources/information technology expert and ten years in the nonprofit sector as a Grant Writing Consultant. He authored a textbook entitled Marriage and Family: The 21st Century Approach and is a Most Valuable Professional (MVP).
Erin Roark Murphy, LMSW, received her BSW from Texas Woman’s University in 2015 and her MSW from Texas Christian University in 2016 where she received the 2016 Outstanding Graduate Student award. While working through her BSW, she worked as a Guardianship Specialist with individuals with intellectual disabilities, cognitive impairments, and other issues resulting in mental incapacitation. Throughout her Master’s degree, Erin worked as a social worker in an emergency department and as a Graduate Research Assistant focusing on healthcare utilization of the homeless population and designed elements for effective therapeutic homeless service spaces. Erin’s research interests combine her passion for geriatrics, those facing homelessness and housing insecurity, and healthcare. Her primary research interests include the evolving medical and social needs of the homeless population as they age.
Kristen Ravi, LMSW earned her BSW from the University of Arkansas in 2008. In 2010, Kristen completed her MSW from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St Louis. As an MSW student, Kristen gained experience working in the field of intimate partner violence providing counseling and crisis intervention to survivors. After completing her MSW, she worked on two research projects for the Brown School. She worked as social work practitioner facilitating positive parenting program with parents involved in the child welfare system in St. Louis and also served as a project manager for a research project which implemented a group based parenting program with African American fathers. Through these experiences, Kristen acquired experience facilitating an evidence based intervention as well as collecting and managing quantitative and qualitative data. Kristen also practiced social work in the school setting as a school based therapist for K-12 students in rural Arkansas. Most recently she worked as a special education social worker in the DFW area. Kristen’s research interests include intimate partner violence, school social work, trauma, and educational disparities.
Nibedita Shrestha is from Nepal. She earned a Masters of Philosophy in Social Anthropology from the University of Bergen, Norway in 2004. Prior to that that, she earned a Masters in Sociology and a Post Graduate Diploma in Women’s Studies from Tribhuvan University in Nepal. She began her career doing social research that was followed by work experienced in pre-adolescent female education promotion, women entrepreneurship and labor issues. She is most interested in the elevation and empowerment issues of women and marginalized groups. She has extensive background in I/NGO sector working at the grassroots level. Nibedita has developed skills to facilitate education for young girls from marginalized communities and implemented various capacity-building training for potential and existing women entrepreneurs. She has done extensive research on labor issues afflicting hydro power development in Nepal.
Betty Tonui is originally from Kenya. She received her BSW from Indiana Wesleyan University. After her BSW, she attended Western Kentucky University where she received her MSW. Betty worked as a graduate assistant during her MSW program. Following completion of the MSW program, she took a position working as a medical social worker and a volunteer coordinator for hospice. While working with hospice, Betty had the opportunity to become a task/field supervisor for a BSW student from Indiana State University (ISU). Betty was also served as an adjunct faculty member at ISU where she taught an undergraduate social work class. Betty’s research interests are with the refugee population in the area of Health/mental disparities.
Fall 2015 Cohort
Mary McCoy, LMSW, received her BSW from Texas State University in 2007 and her MSSW from UT Arlington in 2010. While working through her Master's degree, Mary worked with an international humanitarian aid agency, and traveled around the world to disaster zones and developing nations to provide oversight to humanitarian aid distribution and relief and development projects. Following her Master's program, Mary decided that she wanted more experience with direct practice social work, so she took a position working as a hospital case manager and provided social work services to patients across the client spectrum. In 2013, Mary transitioned into direct practice social work with women exiting sexual trafficking and sexual exploitation, and she also provided grants and program evaluation oversight for her agency and other Dallas and Fort Worth based non-profits while under her LMSW-AP supervision with Dr. Regina Praetorius. Mary's primary area of research is investigating the best practices for sex trafficking prevention and aftercare services, including program evaluation for agencies specializing in services for the sexually exploited and trafficked.
Vivian Miller, LMSW, is from Cleveland, Ohio where she earned her Bachelor of Social Work at Cleveland State University. Following her BSW, Vivian graduated in 2015 with her Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) specializing in the direct practice aging concentration. Additionally at CWRU, Vivian obtained her Gerontology certificate. Vivian focused her research on gerontology cross-nationally while studying the social welfare system in Poznan, Poland during her MSSA program. Miss Miller recently contributed to the Council on Social Work Education Gero-Ed Master’s Advanced Curriculum (MAC) Project Substance Use and Older Adults Resource Review 2015 Revision. Following her Master’s degree, Vivian practiced as a licensed social worker at a skilled rehabilitation and nursing home facility in Austin, TX. Her primary research interest is in Gerontology with special attention to social policy implications and programming around the care delivery system, overall quality of life for long-term care residents, and quality of services provided in nursing homes.
Shamsun Nahar Nahar is from Bangladesh. She received her undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2008 where she completed a sociological analysis project on the role of NGOs in the education and development of drop out children. She completed her one Master’s degree in Sociology from University of Dhaka in 2010. While completing her undergraduate and graduate degree, she worked at the Participatory Research and Development Society (PRDS) as a researcher and coordinator for improving the social services for disadvantaged children in Bangladesh. Shamsun received a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2014. Findings from her thesis are published in the Journal of Social Development Issues. Shamsun’s primary areas of research include disadvantaged children, women empowerment, and homeless populations.
Anh Phuong Nguyen received her Master of Social Work from Portland State University (Oregon) in 2014, and her Master in Public Policy from National University of Singapore in 2010. Previously, Anh graduated with a B.A. in Chinese Linguistics from Hanoi University (Vietnam) in 2005. Her research interests focus on gender-based violence, culturally-derived intervention efforts for intimate partner abuse, legislation dimensions of domestic violence prevention, and international social work. Prior to entering the Ph.D. program, Anh worked as a research assistant for PSU's Assessment Committee during her MSW program, and held internships at an intensive care unit where she gained practice experience as a medical social worker; and in a community center serving refugees and immigrants in Portland. Anh contributed to several research projects and leadership training programs for government officials conducted by PSU's Center for Public Services. Early in her career, she worked as a government official for the International Relations Department at Vietnam Women's Union, promoting cooperation and innovative for the advancement of women in Vietnam and Asian countries.
Bernadette Ombayo is interested in domestic violence and children of incarcerated parents, especially the consequences of incarceration on their education pursuits and their resiliency. Before joining the PhD program at UTA, she interned at the psychiatric and geriatric units at the Medical Center of Bowling Green Kentucky where she conducted group therapy sessions and intakes. She also worked as a teacher in a high school and colleges in Kenya (2009-2011). She taught Swahili at Western Kentucky University under the Fulbright program in 2011/2012. She holds an undergraduate degree in Education- English/Literature from Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya; and a Masters of Social Work from Western Kentucky University where she received the 2014 Outstanding Graduate Student award. While pursuing her MSW, she did a poster presentation on Interventions for Behavior Problems of Children of Incarcerated Parents. Bernadette is passionate about teaching and is very particular about minimizing the challenges to accessing education in marginalized populations.
Chang Hyun Seo Seo received a Bachelor’s degree in French language and literature from Inha University in South Korea. He completed a Master of Social Work at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea in 2011. He completed a thesis entitled “A Study on Poverty Reduction Effect of the National Basis Livelihood Security System: On the Countable Income”. Upon completion of his MSW program, he spent three years working as a researcher at the Gyeonggi Welfare Foundation in South Korea. During this time, he developed and evaluated a system of education for social workers and social welfare officials. Also, he researched ways to improve the labor conditions for social workers and the welfare needs in Gyeonggi-do province in South Korea. His research interests focus in the areas of comparative social policy, social policy analysis, poverty reduction and the working poor.
Jamel Slaughter earned his undergraduate degree in Psychology from Florida A&M University (FAMU). Midway through his matriculation, Slaughter declared a double minor in Business Administration and Social Work, setting the foundation as a mental health professional while acquiring a wealth of business acumen. Immediately after graduation, Slaughter continued his education at his alma mater, obtaining a Masters of Social Work and graduating Summa Cum Laude. Slaughter has developed a distinguished resume spanning the past decade in the academy, federal government, and non-profit fields. Throughout his career, Slaughter developed a diverse skill set which has led him to increase student enrollment in multiple programs, implement student training programs, write and manage grants for non-profit organizations, serve on several student selection committees, and serve as a lecturer addressing a myriad of modern social topics. Slaughters’ expertise in student recruitment and passion for empowering young people led to his current research interests in fathers and child welfare; specifically in the area of reengaging absentee fathers.
Fall 2014 Cohort
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.
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.
Alicia Hawley, 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 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) 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 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. 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 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 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 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 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 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.
Lester 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 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 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 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.