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 Martaya Brown (mmb9972@mavs.uta.edu), Lecia Edwards (lae0269@mavs.uta.edu) or Olga Carrillo (Olga.carrillo@mavs.uta.edu).

FALL 2022 GRADUATE STUDENT LEADERS

Vyen Adams

Vyen Adams

Hello fellow Mavs! My name is Vyen Adams (pronounced Vin). I am very appreciative and excited to be serving as your GSL! I am currently completing my MSW as an online, advanced standing student with a direct practice in mental health and substance abuse. This will actually be my final semester, and if everything goes according to plan, I will graduate this December! I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2019 with a BSW. My family and I currently reside in South Carolina due to my husband's military orders. Together we have two children (both girls, ages 6 and 2). I am also working at a private practice as a Medicaid Targeted Case Manager. I have previous experience with homelessness, child protective services, and HIV prevention. After I graduate, I am looking into pursuing a DSW. I also hope to work with military families (mainly spouses and children). In the meantime, I look forward to enjoying (or stressing) my final semester and connecting with my fellow constituents. As your GSL, let's navigate this together!

Kristen "Kris" Bankhead

Kristen “Kris” 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 Fall, I am starting my CAP specialty year. I am passionate about policy and advocacy work, and I have particular interest in issues affecting adolescents and the LGBTQ+ community. Outside of school, I volunteer at 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 supporting you through the MSW program!

Lisa Battle

Lisa Battle (Intern with Dr. Mitschke's office)

Hello! My name is Lisa Battle (she/her). I live in Austin, TX and I’m pursuing my MSW specializing in Mental Health & Substance Misuse. This is my first semester serving as a GSL and I’m very excited to help others along their MSW journey. I am passionate about self-esteem, confidence, and body image issues. Outside of school, I work in product management making web and mobile applications. I also enjoy hiking, yoga, and drinking tea in thunderstorms.

Martaya Brown

Martaya Brown

My name is Martaya Brown, and I am 30 years old. I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and I have lived in Arlington, Texas for a little over a year. In 2014, I joined the United States Air Force where I was stationed in Grand Forks, North Dakota. While in the service, I received my master’s degree in Psychology (prior to the service, I obtained my bachelor’s degree in criminology). I am currently participating in a dual degree program at UTA to obtain my MSW and an MBA. My main goal after graduation is to establish my own assistant living “community”. In this community individuals with disabilities have access to resources for proper care and to maintain their independence and dignity. I emphasize community because I do not want it to be or feel like a facility setting. Many assistant facilities do not have the best reputations when it comes to providing care and a better quality of life for people. I currently work at a private assistant living residence with 6 amazing clients. I am very sociable, but also a little shy. I am so excited for this upcoming semester, and I can’t wait to work with you!

Olga Carrillo

Olga Carrillo

Hello Mavs! My name is Olga Carrillo and this is my second 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)!

JC Chang

JC Chang (Intern for Dr. Hassan)

Hello! My name is JC Chang. I am from Puerto Rico. I obtained my bachelor's degree in Forensic Science with a minor in Chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration specializing in Human Resource Management from Colorado State University-Global Campus. I briefly worked in forensics prior to enlisting in the United States Air Force. During my time in the USAF, I served as a Bio-Terrorism Microbiologist and Medical Technologist. I currently work full-time as a Medical Laboratory Scientist in the DFW area. I am now pursuing my MSW here at UTA and hope to specialize in Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

Karla Clark

Hello, my name is Karla Clark and I prefer to be called Kay. I am currently in the MSW program with a focus on Children and Families. I recently graduated in May ’22 from the BSW program here at UTA. Go Mavericks!! I chose social work, since I truly believe this is my calling. In the past, I have volunteered in nursing homes and was able to build relationships with elderly people. In the future, I would like to work with the aging population or with children and families. I am married and a mother of 2 children who are a big part of why I continue to pursue furthering my education. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family. I enjoy traveling on cruise ships (before covid). Although this is my first semester as a GSL, I have previously served as a USL and enjoyed helping others to reach their goals. I am excited and look forward to the opportunity to help my fellow peers.

Margaret Gayle Conley

Margaret Gayle Conley (Intern for Field Office)

Hello, my name is Margaret Gayle Conley. I am in my fourth semester of the MSW program with UTA and this is my first semester as a GSL. I will be pursuing a concentration in Aging once in my Advanced MSW courses and hope to be able to pursue a career in this area of Social Work once I graduate. I currently work full time with the Texas Workforce Commission’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services division, where we assist individuals with disabilities. Outside of work and school, I am a mother of four rambunctious boys who always keep me on my toes and are my driving force for completing my MSW. I look forward to serving UTA as a GSL this semester and am excited to contribute to the success of the MSW program!

Landri Dickens

Landri Dickens

Hello, my name is Landri Dickens, and I am an advanced standing MSW student. My concentration is on Mental Health and Substance Misuse. I graduated from Tarleton State University with my BSW in August of 2022 and I am excited to join the GSL program and support other students on their MSW journey. I am also a Case management specialist in Waco, Tx working under the federal bureaus of prisons. I chose this field because I feel that my purpose in life is to advocate for vulnerable and oppressed populations. I absolutely love supporting others and providing guidance in the traditional stages of life. I am honored to be a GSL, and I look forward to assisting my constituents in any way I can and building a great community of social workers.

Deni Dickson

Deni Dickson

"Deni is in her advanced 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”.

Lecia Edwards

Lecia Edwards

Greetings! My name is Lecia Edwards and this is my first semester serving as a Graduate Student Leader (GSL) and as a GSL intern. I received my bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of North Texas in 2004. I am currently in my second year as a foundation student in the MSW Program, and I plan to pursue Direct Practice in Children and Families as my concentration. Currently married for 34 years, my husband and I are proud parents of three adult children ages 34, 32, and 29. I am also a Nana to my wonderful seven-year-old grandson who lives in Kansas City, MO. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, traveling, playing the piano, shopping, and driving my “muscle car”. As a longtime special education administrator in a public school district, I have a passion for helping others. My work facilitates the development of children by giving them access to the resources they need to excel in the classroom, and also performing tasks outside of school. My goal is to become a school social worker and continue to serve the needs of children with the goal of helping them reach pliable goals and assist them with the best chance to succeed in life regardless of their circumstances. I am excited about completing my internship with the program and honored to serve as a GSL. I look forward to supporting other students during OUR journey through the UTA MSW program!

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. I'm 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.

Jeremiah Hackett

Jeremiah Hackett

Hello! My name is Jeremiah and I am attending UTA this semester to start my Master of Social Work coursework with a concentration in Mental Health and Substance Misuse. I'll be attending full-time, working full-time, and binge-watching Netflix almost none of the time. But I am incredibly excited to be taking these next steps on the path toward Social Work licensure and practice. I am aiming to earn an LCSW and plan to serve my local community and school district in whatever capacity is needed. I'm looking forward to having a blast through every challenge along the way and hope I can be of service as a helpful resource and encouraging ally in your journey here at UTA. Good luck this semester and Go Mavericks!

Acacia Hunt

Acacia Hunt

Hi! My name is Acacia Hunt, and this will be my second fall serving as a GSL. I received my bachelor’s in Sociology from THE Prairie View A&M University in May of 2021 and am now pursuing my MSW here at UTA with a specialization in Children and Families. I aspire to become a children’s and teens therapist within the African American community and having my own practice. I have a deep passion for community building and safe care spaces for minority youth and am determined to reform and normalize therapy for our young people to heal. I am also a team player that enjoys mentorship and opportunities to encourage others to continue their journey in all educational paths and desires as we are the change for our future. I am very excited to be a part of this program and witness the growth of you all as professionals!

Dinah Jones-Tate

Dinah Jones-Tate

Hello Mavs! My name is Dinah Jones-Tate (DJ for short) and this is my second year here at UTA! I am from Illinois where I received my Bachelor’s in Science with an emphasis in Family and Individual Development at Northern Illinois University, c/o 2018 as a first-generation college graduate! I am now pursuing a dual degree and working towards my MSW specializing in mental health and M.A in Sociology. After grad school, I plan to work in either the high school or university setting as a social worker or continue my journey within nonprofits. I am excited to be given the opportunity to be your GSL and look forward to meeting you!

Tara Lattimore

Tara Lattimore (Intern for Advising office)

Hi everyone! My name is Tara Lattimore (she/her/hers) and this is my third semester as a Foundation MSW student and first semester as a GSL intern where I will be working in the Field Office. I am pursuing the Mental Health and Substance Abuse concentration. I am Australian-American and grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia. I moved to the United States for my undergraduate studies at Barnard College in New York City where I majored in Psychology. I went on to complete a Master’s degree and Doctorate degree in Chinese Medicine from AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine and I am still a PRN Acupuncturist at Baylor Scott & White in the Austin-Round Rock area where I specialize in treating chronic pain and cancer treatment-induced side effects. I believe that everyone deserves equal access to quality healthcare and I look forward to expanding my scope of practice to better help my community after completing my studies at UTA. I am truly excited to be studying with such a passionate group of students and I look forward to getting to know you and being of service as you navigate your academic journey.

Sandra Miller

Sandra Miller

Howdy, all! My name is Sandra (Sandy) Miller and I am in my Advanced year at UTA. This is my third semester as a GSL. I 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!

Twana Miller

Twana Miller

Hello maverick family! My name is Twana Miller; this is my third semester as a USL and my first semester as a GSL. I am a full-time MSW Health Cohort student, and I graduated in the Spring of 2022 with my BSW from UTA. I have a mission and the heart to help those incarcerated with health disparities within the prison system. I enjoy listening to worship music, volunteering, creating vegan meals for my family & DIYs from hand soaps, facial soaps, and skin care products, reading a good book, and spending time with my husband and three young men. I am thrilled for the opportunity to serve as your GSL this semester. We're a team, and I look forward to growing with you. We're in this together. Let's go, MAVS!

Hilda Moke

Hilda Moke (Intern for Advising office)

Hello Mavs! My name is Hilda Moke and I am an MSW Foundation student at UTA. I graduated with a BA in Political Science from TAMIU in 2005. After some very challenging college years, I joined the workforce and took a long time to return to student life. In 2020, I took a leap of faith and enrolled at UTA. I am very happy and proud of my grad school choice. The UTA MSW program has exceeded my expectations and is helping me reach the goals I have set out to accomplish. I hope to pursue Direct Practice in Mental Health and Substance Misuse as a concentration. Upon graduation, I plan to work towards my LCSW. I have a passion for wellbeing and self-care practices that promote body, mind, and soul alignment. In my future work as an LCSW, I would like to integrate mindfulness and eastern modalities to help clients improve their nervous system regulation and overcome trauma. For the past 15 years, I have worked as a federal probation officer. Although I love working for the federal courts, I look forward to the day I can retire and begin working with people from a different viewpoint and skillset as an LCSW. At this moment in time, I am excited and honored to be a Graduate Student Leader Program Intern. Let’s have a great semester!

Georgine Mwamba

Georgine Mwamba

Hello, my name is Georgine Mwamba. I am a second year Graduate Student Leader. My specialty is Health, I plan to graduate in the Summer of 2023. The goal is to work in hospital settings and be a voice of children and adults who need organ transplants. I would like to be part of decision making when it comes to what and who needs 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 diverse backgrounds. Interacting with clients and coordinating their services makes me feel accomplished. 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 building a great community of social workers.

Byron Myles

Byron Myles

My name is Byron Myles (He/Him/His) and I am a first semester Foundation student at UTA. This is my first year as a GSL. I received my undergraduate degree in Music Education from Texas Christian University in 2018. I have spent my time in the classroom for the last few years. This is what prompted me to pursue this new course of direction in my life! My goal is to work in the scope of Social Justice for marginalized communities. When I am not working or doing classwork, I enjoy cooking, making music, binge watching shows/anime and hanging out with friends. My joy lies with helping others and I cannot wait to be of assistance!

Aditi Parolkar

Aditi Parolkar

Hello! My name is Aditi Parolkar and this is my third semester serving as a GSL. I am a full-time MSW student starting my advanced year this Fall. My concentration is Community & Administrative Practice (CAP). 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. After graduation, I would like to serve survivors of violence and trauma. 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!

Katina Shuey

Katina "Tina" Shuey

Hi, my name is Katina Shuey and I am in my second 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 two years ago). I'm undecided on where I want to practice but cannot wait to see! This is my second semester as a Graduate Student Leader and I'm honored to be working with other MSW students.

Thea Simon-Abraham (Intern for Advising office)

Thea Simon-Abraham (Intern for Advising office)

Hello fellow Mavericks! My name is Thea Simon-Abraham, and I am entering the last semester of my Foundational year as an MSW student. I have a BA in Psychology with a concentration in Applied Psychology. I plan to pursue the Health track in my Advanced year, so that I can advocate for and assist clients navigating through the healthcare system. I am passionate about serving and helping others and I look forward to supporting you on your journey!

Almeisha Tisby

Almeisha Tisby

Hello, My Name, is Almeisha Tisby but I prefer to go by Meisha. This is my first year as a GSL volunteer. I recently completed my bachelor's here at UTA in Social Work with concentration in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment. I am currently enrolled in the MSW CAP program. I have been employed with a government-funded organization for the past 10 years that has allowed me the opportunity to work with a large number of culturally diverse patients. My ultimate career goal is to be over my own clinical practice that will allow me to continue to grow within organization as well as present me with a greater opportunity to advocate within my own community and serve those that suffer from mental illness. I look forward to advocating and creating a positive experience for those that plan to follow the social work path.

Jacqueline Valdez-Ortiz

Jacqueline "Jackie" Valdez-Ortiz

Hello everyone, my name is Jacqueline Valdez-Ortiz (she/her/hers) This is my third and last term serving as a GSL. I enjoy helping the student population 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 on my last semester of the MSW program in the mental health/substance misuse program. Currently, I work for After8toEducate, Social Work Connections Lab and intern at Dallas Behavioral Healthcare Hospital. I look forward to working with you!

Ashley Wrzesinski

Ashley Wrzesinski (Intern in Field)

Hello fellow Mavs! My name is Ashley Wrzesinski. I received my BA in Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2007 and in my second year of the MSW program. I currently work with individuals in the IDD population and hope to use skills and knowledge gained here at UTA to expand my capacity to help others. I am the mother of two boys, a wife to my best friend, and a dog lover. I enjoy golf, yoga, and spending time outdoors with my family and friends. I look forward to getting to know my peers and assisting in any way I can as we go through this journey together.

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