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Meet our new doctoral students

By Brenda Vawter
Kanisha Coleman, an MSW/PhD continuum student, received her BA in psychology from The University of North Carolina in May 2012. While earning her BA at UNC, she worked in a psycholinguistics lab as a research assistant in UNC’s psychology department with Dr. Peter Gordon. She also worked in an African American wellness research lab under Dr. Enrique Neblett. Last summer, she received the opportunity to experience the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (MURAP), under faculty mentor, Dr. Michael Lambert. Coleman is interested in child mental health and the development of children who have suffered from various forms of maltreatment. She has a special interest in improving child-parent relationships. She will work in blended field placement with SAFEchild of Raleigh and a research assistantship with Dr. Rebecca Macy on the MOVE (Mothers Overcoming Violence through Education and Empowerment) Program. Coleman’s work will focus on issues of child abuse prevention. She is the recipient of a Sam and Betsy Reeves Doctoral Fellowship from the UNC School of Social Work.

Christina Horsford received her MSW from Fordham University in May 2012, and her MPA from Cornell University.  While earning her MSW, she worked as a clinical social work intern serving older adults at Hebrew Hospital Home of Westchester in Valhalla, N.Y., and Westchester Jewish Community Services in White Plains. She also directed sales, marketing and operations for the Edna L. Roker Social Adult Day Center in White Plains, consulting with family caregivers of clients with dementia. Prior to seeking her master’s degrees, Horsford volunteered with the Peace Corps, serving in Suriname (Dutch Guyana), South America. She assessed needs of the indigenous villagers and taught English reading and writing skills. Her research interests are in health disparities, with an emphasis on dementia, between African-Americans and the general population. A recipient of the Sam and Betsy Reeves Doctoral Fellowship, Horsford will work as a research assistant with Dr. Sheryl Zimmerman, on projects related to long-term care of older adults with and without dementia. Her first project is designed to promote equal knowledge of and improved access to assisted living, and is working with more than 200 assisted living providers across eight counties.

Jennifer O’Brien received her MSW from Smith College in 2010. O’Brien recently worked for River Valley Counseling Center in Springfield, Mass., as a clinician for women seeking safety, a SAMHSA-funded grant project specifically targeting women with co-occurring substance abuse and trauma. She also worked in the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program at ServiceNet in Northampton. She had the opportunity to work as a social work intern in Chiang Mai Thailand, at the Suan Dok Hospital. Also while in Thailand, she worked at Save the Children UK where she focused on stopping human trafficking over the Burma border. O’Brien’s research interests are focused on informing multicultural trauma research and treatment. She is working as a research assistant on the MOVE (Mothers Overcoming Violence through Education and Empowerment) Program. Her position is funded by a grant from The Duke Endowment under the direction of Dr. Rebecca Macy. Her work will focus of issues of trauma and violence.

Charity Sneed
, a MSW/PhD continuum student, received her BA in sociology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007. She was in UNC’s MSW program for academic year 2011-12. During this time, she was a research assistant for the doctoral program. Sneed previously served as a research assistant volunteer for 3-C Institute for Social Development—Celebrating the Strengths of Black Youth (CSBY) Project in Cary, and as a project volunteer for Dr. Anne Jones‘ Strong Couples Strong Children Program in Durham. She is interested in children and families, poverty and school achievement. Sneed will work as a research assistant with Dr. Joelle Powers and Dr. Danielle Swick on the School Based Support Program with Durham Public Schools.

Christopher Wretman, received his MSW from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2012. As an MSW student, he worked as a research assistant with Dr. Gina Chowa on the YouthSave Project, a multi-site research project in Ghana, Kenya, Nepal and Colombia. Previously, he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Verkhoturye, Russia, and then taught English in Minabe, Japan. His research interests are in-school, group-based interventions that build positive social skills and social capacity among adolescents. He is specifically interested in sports and physical activity-based interventions. Wretman will work as a research assistant with Dr. Natasha Bowen on the School Success Profile (SSP). He received the UNC Graduate School’s Doctoral Merit Assistantship.

Shiyou Wu, received a Bachelor of Law degree in Social Work from China Youth University for Political Sciences in 2006, and an MSW as a joint degree from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Department of Applied Social Sciences and Peking University, Department of Sociology in 2009. As an undergraduate student, Shiyou was one of 120 students selected to take part in a volunteer project to teach elementary and middle-school students in a small village in western China. This work was recognized publicly and was featured on China Central Television. He was hired by China Youth University for Political Sciences as a social work instructor, and he was one of two faculty members to receive an award for faculty excellence. Wu has published eight journal articles and two book chapters. His focus is in poverty, migrant youth and their adaptation and intervention research to address the needs of migrant youth. He received the UNC Graduate School’s Royster Fellowship award.