Graduate Student Leadership Program

Overview 

The GSL program is designed to build community and connections between MSW students and strengthen the bond that students have with the School of Social Work by facilitating the exchange of accurate and timely information.  Each MSW student in the program is assigned to a GSL, a fellow student who has received extensive training on leadership, communication, and information on the School and MSW program. 

What do GSLs do? 

GSLs serve as advocates and communication facilitators for MSW students, fielding questions about all of aspects of the graduate experience, including advising, field, registration, orientation, scholarships, deadlines, program policies, and more.  They are able to track down accurate answers to questions quickly by reaching out directly to program administrators and connecting students to services and resources.  Students who reach out to their GSL with a question most often receive resolution to their presenting issue within minutes or hours of posing a question. 

How do I contact my GSL? 

Your GSL can be reached anytime via email or on MS Teams.  Your GSL will be reaching out to you at least once every two weeks to check in via email or Teams conference. If you are unsure of who your GSL is or have not received a response to your inquiry within 24 hours, please email MSW Interns Stacie Hill  (smh2275@mavs.uta.edu) or Sandra Miller (skm2706@mavs.uta.edu).

Summer 2022 GRADUATE STUDENT LEADERS

Yasmin Al-Zubi

Yasmin Al-Zubi

Hello! My name is Yasmin AlZubi and this is my second semester serving as a GSL. I completed my undergraduate studies in psychology at UTA and am now pursuing my MSW degree, specializing in Mental Health. After graduation, I plan to become a pediatric mental health clinician in the medical setting, and plan to continue my research within the field. My current thesis research explores cognitive neuropsychology of violence and trauma amongst children, in efforts to reverse violence desensitization. Even though my desired population to work with is children, there is something special about assisting those within my own community. I am excited to encourage and empower you all as future social work professionals. Here’s to a wonderful semester!

Kristen Bankhead

Kristen Bankhead

Hello! My name is Kris Bankhead (she/her). I’m from Dallas, Texas where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Management. This summer is the final semester of my foundation year, and I will start the CAP specialty in the fall. I am passionate about policy and advocacy work, and I have a particular interest in issues affecting adolescents and the LGBTQ+ community. Outside of school, I volunteer at a crisis hotline and an STI and gender-affirming care clinic. I also enjoy lifting weights, getting out in the sun, and spending time with my cat, Betsy Bob. I look forward to working through the MSW program together!

April Brewer

April Brewer

My name is April Brewer, and I am in the MSW program as a Foundation student at UTA. It is a joy to me when helping others. I currently work in an Outpatient Psychiatry/Psychology clinic in the Dallas area where I basically do this for free so I was told to get my degree so I can benefit from it. My area of focus is Mental Health and Substance Abuse. My future plans once graduation is to pursue my LCSW and become an Adjunct Professor. I am excited and honored to be your Graduate Student Leader in this journey.

Olga Carrillo

Olga Carrillo

Hello Mavs! My name is Olga Carrillo and this is my first semester serving as a Graduate Student Leader (GSL) and completing my internship with the program as well! I received my bachelor's in Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at Arlington in December 2020. I am now pursuing my MSW here at UTA and enter direct practice in Mental Health and Substance Abuse. I have previously interned with the Relationship Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention program here at UTA. I loved the hands on experience and thus shaped the shift into the social work world. In my free time, I love traveling and trying anything once (especially food)!

Deni Dickson

Deni Dickson

Deni is in her third semester as a graduate student leader at UTA's School of Social Work. She graduated from The University of Texas Permian Basin with a bachelor’s in Psychology. It has been her dream to pursue a master’s degree in social work and has seized her opportunity. Her goal is to “give away what has been so freely given” to her. She is working to obtain her MSW and then work towards being a LCSW. She would like to work in the mental health field with people who have issues with alcohol and addiction. “I believe everyone deserves to lead a life of happiness. Providing reliable resources to help people with their mental health should be accessible to everyone regardless of race/gender/socio-economic status. I am ready to do my part to make this a reality”.

Zaina Duwaji

Zaina Duwaji

Hello, my name is Zaina Duwaji; I graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor's Human Sciences degree. I'm currently in my last semester in the MSW program, and I am excited to join The GSL program and support other students on their social work journey. I focus on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. I also work as a Case Manager in Houston, TX serving the homeless population due to COVID -19. I enjoy supporting others and providing guidance in traditional stages of life. My future endeavors are to be a therapist and help more people on a micro-level one day. I wish the best for you all on your journey, and I am happy to assist.

Angela Estrada

Angela Estrada

Hi everyone! My name is Angela Estrada, I am working towards my MSW and will graduate in December 2022. I plan to pursue a doctorate degree and one day council child and families. I am a mom of a 15 month old. I have 2 dogs and 2 aquatic turtles. We currently reside in Arlington Texas with my husband who runs his own business. I look forward to getting to working with my constituents and getting to know you.

Ana Giner

Ana Giner

Hello, my name is Ana Catalina Giner. I'm excited to be part of the GSL program to help and assist other fellow students. This will be my third semester in the MSW program, and I will be pursuing mental health and substance misuse concentration. I was born and raised in the border city of El Paso, Texas. I obtained my Bachelors in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of Texas at El Paso . I currently work in an out-patient mental health clinic, where I have been fortunate to see the positive outcomes that social workers make every day. I look forward to assisting and advocating for our social work student community at UTA!

Melissa Griffiths

Melissa Griffiths

Melissa's formal education includes a Bachelor's Degree from Brigham Young University in Public Relations and an MBA from Stevens-Henager College. She has received Special Education Advocacy Training provided by the Council of Parent Attorneys, and Advocates, coursework by Down Syndrome Education International, and has attended conferences and trainings on learning disabilities. As a Texas Partners in Policy Making Graduate, she continues to make strides to improve legislation at the state level. Melissa is especially passionate about education advocacy and actively supports families in navigating the IEP process through the company she founded, DFW Advocacy. DFW Advocacy aims to promote inclusion, person-centered practices and policies, and encourage self-determination for individuals with disabilities. Melissa plans to use her MSW degree to continue to support individuals with disabilities and their families through direct counseling, and local and state advocacy.

Stacie Hill

Stacie Hill

Hello everyone! My name is Stacie Hill (she/her/hers). I graduated from Texas Wesleyan University (2020) with a Bachelor’s in Sociology. I am one of the interns for the Summer 2022 Graduate Student Leader Program. I am a full-time student, and this will be my third semester as a GSL. I am pursuing the aging track during my advanced year wanting to focus on end-of-life planning. I became a GSL because I always look forward to helping students and fellow GSLs navigate through the program and have a goal of building a solid community of successful social workers.

Faith Iheke

Faith Iheke

Hello all! My name is Faith Iheke, and I am an Advanced Year MSW student on the Mental Health/Substance Misuse track. I am originally from California, and I have a BA in Psychology. Following graduation, I plan to pursue clinical social work licensure, become a therapist, and work with adults who have attachment trauma. Graduate school can be stressful for many, as personal, professional, and academic demands seem to come to a head all at the same time. I look forward to supporting you during your time spent in the program!

Ebonie Kinney

Ebonie Kinney

My name is Ebonie Kinney, and this is my final semester in the MSW program! My concentration is Direct Practice with Children & Families. I am a proud wife and mother of five beautiful children whom I like to refer to as my five heartbeats. Moreover, I chose this field because since I was a little girl, I have felt that my purpose in life was to advocate for vulnerable and oppressed populations. More specifically, I am interested in working with families to remove the stigma associated with individuals and families who struggle with substance misuse. I also believe that it is essential to treat the family as the client. In addition, I have an interest in working in palliative care, as this type of care focuses on the needs of the patient, rather than their prognosis. This population is often faced with multiple challenges that involve making pertinent decisions as it relates to receiving the most appropriate care. I am passionate about walking through this journey with families to help alleviate some of the many stressors that come with such challenges. In the future, I hope to start a private practice that will be empowering and transformative for families. I also hope to become a college professor, so that I can bring my practice experience into the classroom to educate future generations of social workers. Lastly, I am a firm believer that when passion meets vision, we have the capacity to do phenomenal work, as future social work practitioners!

Katherine Kitchens

Katherine Kitchens

Hello! My name is Katherine Kitchens (she/her). I'm a Dallas native and an advanced MSW student concentrating in Community and Administrative Practice (CAP). Summer 2022 is my fifth semester to serve as a GSL! I have a BA in Politics, and my professional background is in teaching, writing, and editing. I've worked as a Graduate Research Assistant since January 2021, where I've had the opportunity to work on studies focused on Medicaid waivers and expansion, place-based indicators of health disparities, disconnected youth and young adults, political engagement among social work students, and program evaluations. This summer, I'll defend my thesis—a quantitative study examining the relationship between residential segregation and stress-related diseases. After completing my MSW in August 2022, I'll continue to nurture my love of research in UTA's doctoral program. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to enjoying my final semester in the MSW and GSL programs, working together to strengthen our community by building connections in the School of Social Work.

Jonarida Little

Jonarida Little

My name is Jona Little, and this is my second semester serving as a GSL. I graduated from Boston University with a MSc. in Risk Management, a BSc. in Health Promotion, and a Minor in Community Health from the University of Texas at El Paso. I plan to pursue a concentration in the Mental Health and Substance Abuse. For leisure, I love to spend quality time with my family and love to travel. I am very excited to be able to assist my fellow students in joining the UTA MSW program.

Allyson Miles

Allyson Miles

Hello, I am Allyson; I am an MSW thesis student specializing in aging. I have had the honor of being a student leader for several semesters and enjoy building a community and advocating for other students in the school of social work. In addition to supporting students as a GSL, I also support students in the Connection Lab as a tutor. I work hard to ensure that each student has the support they deserve and is given the knowledge to help them in their academic journey.

Sandra Miller

Sandra Miller

My name is Sandra (Sandy) Miller and I am a third-semester Foundation student at UTA. This is my first year as a GSL and I am excited to be completing my internship with the GSL office as well. II received my undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State in 1994 and worked for many years as an adult probation officer before becoming a stay-at-home mom to my two awesome boys, now 11 and 16. My goal is to graduate when my oldest son finishes high school and enter direct practice in Mental Health and Substance Abuse. In my free time, I love camping, fishing, reading, and experimenting with new recipes for my friends and family. I also play a number of musical instruments very badly, much to the delight of my long-suffering family and neighbors. I love helping people find answers to their questions, and I have asked many questions myself since returning to school. Remember we are ALL in this together with the common goal of helping others!

Georgine Mwamba

Georgine Mwamba

Hello, my name is Georgine Mwamba. I am a first year Graduate Student Leader. My specialty is Health, I plan to graduate the Summer of 2023. The goal is to work in hospital settings and be a voice of children and adults who need organ transplant. I would like to be part of decision’s making when it comes to what and who need organ transplant the most. I currently work in Disability Services with My Health My Resource of Tarrant County. I am glad that I get to work with people from different background. Interacting with clients and coordinating their services make me feel accomplish. Other than being a student, I am a wife, a mother of four and volunteer at Compass kids. I enjoy reading, singing, dancing, cooking, telling jokes and spending time with my family. I am honored to be a Graduate Student Leader and I look forward to assisting my constituents in any way I can and to build a great community of social workers.

Ashley Ordaz

Ashley Ordaz

Hi, my name is Ashley Ordaz. I have served as a GSL for four semesters this will be my fifth and final semester. I have a bachelor’s in family studies from TWU. I have experience in domestic violence shelters, older persons population, and small children ages 6 months to 6 years old during that my undergrad and after I graduated. After my undergrad I lived in Germany for a little less than 2 years before starting my masters here at UTA. I am in the mental health and substance misuse concentration. I have a passion for helping others and an interest in pursuing therapy work after graduation. I hope to serve, support, and help other students reach their goals.

Aditi Parolkar

Aditi Parolkar

Hello! My name is Aditi Parolkar and this is my second semester serving as a GSL. I am a full-time MSW student in my foundation year and I am interested in the Mental Health & Substance Misuse concentration. I am an immigrant from India and I have been living in the US for the past 8 years. I have been passionate about advocacy and empowerment since I was very young. I previously worked at a crisis center where I provided crisis intervention and trauma-informed care to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. This experience encouraged me to pursue social work and helped me gain valuable skills that I can use in my future practice. I am currently interning at a humanitarian agency that serves recently arrived refugee and immigrant youth. After graduation, I would like to serve immigrants as well as survivors of trauma within South Asian & Middle Eastern communities. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching Bollywood films, reading tarot cards, and listening to music. I am excited to be your GSL and help you navigate through the MSW program!

Nikita Primm

Nikita Primm

Greetings! I am Nikita Primm, and this is my second semester with the GSL community. I am in my second year at UTA, pursuing an MSW with a concentration in Mental Health and Substance Abuse. I obtained my undergrad at Strayer University, focusing on Crime and Criminal Behavior as my degree was in Criminal Justice. My path to social work began while serving in the Marine Corps and previous job opportunities working with children and families. Substance abuse and mental health challenges are ongoing in active military members, military veterans, children, and adults. A short-term goal that I am pushing toward is obtaining the knowledge to effectively provide interventions to multiple populations upon licensure. My ultimate goal is to bring light to people and their situations as it gives me joy to see positive changes. I am honored to be a part of the Graduate Student Leadership team because this gives me a chance to connect with my fellow constituents and hopefully make their academic experience less stressful.

Ashley Roland

Ashley Roland

Hi, my name is Ashley Roland. This is my first semester being a GSL, and I am very excited about the opportunity to act as a liaison between graduate students and UTA. I Graduated from UTA In 2017 with my Bachelor’s in Communications/Public Relations and a minor in Business Administration. Following various Human Resources positions at the height of the pandemic, I decided to pursue social work and began the UTA social work aster's program in 2020. Fast forward I am now in my last semester of the program, will obtain my degree on August 22’ and will be taking the licensing exam this summer. As far as career goals, I hope to secure a job working as a healthcare or school social worker following graduation/licensing. Best of luck to everyone in the program and looking forward to working together.

Katina Shuey

Katina Shuey

Hi, my name is Katina Shuey and I am in my first semester of my MSW program. My concentration is Mental Health & Substance Misuse. I have a passion for helping others and I decided to return to college after 25 years (I received a BBA from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1994 and my BSW from UTA last year). I'm undecided on where I want to practice but cannot wait to see! This is my first semester as a Graduate Student Leader and I'm honored to be working with other MSW students.

Sruthi Sundar

Sruthi Sundar

Hi my name is Sruthi Sundar and I am currently in my last semester, pursuing my MSW in Health and a certificate in Community Administrative Practice. I am truly passionate about increasing the amount of equitable patient care in our health system and helping to reduce health disparities. I am also doing my advanced field placement at Children’s Medical Center Dallas in their Emergency Department. Apart from being a graduate student, I work as a research assistant for the School of Social Work. I am excited to represent and advocate for your needs as a GSL!

Jacqueline Valdez-Ortiz

Jacqueline Valdez-Ortiz

Hi everyone, my name is Jacqueline Valdez-Ortiz (she/her/hers) This is my second term serving as a GSL. I enjoyed helping the student population so much and I am extremely proud to be able to serve in any way that I can. I obtained my BSW from Texas Womans' University and now I am in the process of obtaining my MSW in the mental health/substance misuse program. Currently, I work for After8toEducate and intern at Dallas Behavioral Healthcare Hospital. I look forward to working with you!

Suri Zuniga

Suri Zuniga

Hello, my name is Suri Zuniga. I am in the MSW program and a Graduate Student Leader. I graduated from UTA with my BSW in Spring of 2021. Growing up I was not sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to help others. When I heard of social workers, I was truly amazed by all they do for people. As a DACA recipient, I know the importance of having someone guide you through a tough situation you know nothing about. Eventually, I would love to work with children in the immigration system and provide families with the resources to help make their situations easier. I am excited to be a GSL and help others enjoy their time here at UTA!

Contact Us

Joyce White, DM, LMSW
Director of Graduate Programs
Assistant Professor of Practice
joyce.white@uta.edu