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Meet our new doctoral students

By Brenda Vawter and Kathleen Rounds

Katie Cotter received her MSW from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2011. While completing the MSW program, she served as an evaluation specialist for the American Red Cross, Greater Buffalo Chapter and conducted an evaluation of the Ryan White Transportation Program. Cotter was also a teaching assistant for an undergraduate course on child mental health and a research assistant for a study on the location of elderly housing choice voucher (“Section 8”) recipients in western New York. Her research interests include school-based social work interventions, youth violence, and the impact of childhood trauma. The UNC Graduate School awarded Cotter a Merit Fellowship; she will be a research assistant for the North Carolina Academic Center for Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention (NC-ACE) directed by Drs. Paul Smokowski and Natasha Bowen.

Prior to entering the MSW program, Wen (Vivien) Li, MSW ’10, worked as a project coordinator for the Beijing Administrative Vocational College, attached to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, and developed the international program of social work education. While completing the MSW program, she was a social work intern for the UNC Department of Psychiatry’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program and for the Duke University Medical Center’s Solid Organ Transplant Unit. As a doctoral student, Li will focus her research on substance abuse disorders and diverse populations, specifically Asian American populations. She is the recipient of a Sam and Betsy Reeves Doctoral Fellowship, and will work as a research assistant with Dr. Matthew Howard on substance abuse research.

Caroline (Carey) Robertson received her MSW from Smith College in 2009. While an MSW student, she interned at the Brookside Community Health Center in Jamaica Plain, Mass., and at Boston Juvenile Court Clinic. For the past two years she has been a social work clinician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the outpatient Spanish Clinic where she began a Citizenship Group and a Stress Management Group, and also worked as an in-patient Medical Surgical Social Worker. Robertson’s research interests include youth violence, risk and resilience, Latino youth and child maltreatment. She has been awarded the NC-ACE predoctoral fellowship and will be a research assistant on the NC-ACE project, directed by Drs. Paul Smokowski and Natasha Bowen.

Tonya VanDeinse, MSW ’08, is the project director for BECOMING (Building Every Chance of Making It Now and Grown-up), a Durham County program funded by SAMHSA that targets high risk transition age youth, ages 16-21, who have severe mental illness, are disconnected from services and community supports, and have functional impairments in relationships, school, or the community. Her previous experience includes working as a system planner and evaluator for the Durham County System of Care and as a development specialist for the Durham County Adult System of Care. While in the doctoral program, she plans to focus on disparities in access and quality of mental health services for diverse populations, transition age youth, and interventions targeted at individuals involved in multiple public service sectors.

Kevin White, MSW ’98, has worked in human services for over 15 years and has been employed as a social worker for approximately 12. Kevin recently worked as a data analyst for ARD Analytics, Inc. in Pelham, N.Y., and as a social worker with New Hanover County Schools at Roland-Grise Middle School. He also served as a BSW field instructor in a partnership between the New Hanover County Schools and the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. Kevin’s previous experience includes working as a social worker for New Hanover County’s Child Protective and Child Welfare Services, as a counselor for Carolina Living and Learning Center (CLLC) for adults with autism (Division TEACCH), and as an after-school teacher and summer camp counselor at North Raleigh Country Day School. White’s research interests include children at risk, child welfare, and quantitative analysis. A recipient of the Sam and Betsy Reeves Doctoral Fellowship, he will work as a research assistant under the direction of Dr. Mark Testa on child welfare research projects.