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Student Ambassadors

Each year, our School selects representative students from each MSW program to serve as Student Ambassadors. These students share their personal experiences through a series of original blog posts on the SSW Student Ambassadors website. They also welcome questions from prospective UNC School of Social Work applicants about their experiences here.

Through their blog posts, our Student Ambassadors help prospective students learn more about student life at our School. Their honest reflections on the joys and challenges of the graduate student life serve as a great reminder for current students that we’re all experiencing this academic adventure together!


Meet Our Student Ambassadors (2023–2024)

If you are a prospective student, we encourage you to contact our Student Ambassadors who are in the programs and the academic areas of interest that appeal most to you. They will be happy to answer your questions about student life at UNC School of Social Work!

Please note that the abbreviations CMPP (for Community, Management, and Policy Practice) and DP (for Direct Practice) are used to indicate each Student Ambassador’s chosen concentration.


12-Month Advanced Standing MSW Program

Katherine Chappell, Ambassador 2023-2024Katherine Chappell
Hometown: Ashburn, Va.
Concentration: Community, Management and Policy Practice
Interests: working with the unhoused population, lobbying for affordable housing, racial equity and educational equity
Practicum Placement: The Orange County Housing Department
Fun Fact: I enjoy hiking and traveling, and I’m always looking for trail recommendations!


Asya Coles, Ambassador 2023-2024Asya Coles
Hometown: Greenville, N.C.
Concentration: Direct Practice
Interests: behavioral e.g., spiritual/religious practices, relationships, educational access within the Black community
Practicum Placement: Vilcom UNC Psychiatry Outpatient Care
Fun Fact: Cleaning feels the same as walking on the beach, to me. I named my dog Bojangles because of my love for the Cajun seasoning. I am dual-degree student that has found herself at two predominately white institutions after absolutely loving and graduating from the experience that my HBCU gave me. I am pro-Black in all the MANY identities that that includes. I am Black, Queer and Christian and I believe in the human-experience.

Jacob Hoyt, Ambassador 2023-2024Jacob Hoyt
Hometown: Frederick, Md.
Concentration: Direct Practice
Interests: adolescent mental health, mixed-status families, educational equity, trauma-informed care, minority empowerment
Practicum Placement: Bright Path Behavioral Health
Fun Fact: I used to teach Pet CPR and Lifeguarding while in undergrad to pay my bills.


Maya Scott, Ambassador 2023-2024Maya Scott
Hometown: Durham, N.C.
Concentration: Direct Practice
Interests: maternal health, racial equity, health equity, trauma-informed care, and medical social work
Practicum Placement: Duke’s Mother and Baby Clinic
Fun Fact: I graduated from my undergraduate college in two years!



2-Year Full Time MSW Program

Julia Clark, Ambassador 2023-2024Julia Clark
Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
Concentration: Direct Practice
Interests: adolescent and young adult mental health, holistic mental health care, perinatal social work, trauma recovery, mindfulness
Practicum Placement: Duke CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services)
Fun Fact: I love to write and play music!


Ellen Fiedler, Ambassador 2023–2024Ellen Fiedler
Hometown: Apex, N.C.
Concentration: Community, Management and Policy Practice
Interests: sexual/domestic violence prevention & survivor advocacy, comprehensive & inclusive sexual health education, advocacy & support for college students
Practicum Placement: Beacon Program at UNC Hospital
Fun Fact: I love going to coffee shops and I’m always looking for new ones to try!


Bella Schaefer, Ambassador 2023–2024Isabella Schaefer
Hometown: Dousman, Wis.
Concentration: Direct Practice
Interests: adolescent and emerging adulthood mental health, Trauma therapy i.e., TF-CBT, DBTPE, Somatic Experiencing Therapy, EDMR, etc.), and the intersection of trauma and problematic substance use.
Practicum Placement: UNC Campus Health—Behavioral Consultant
Fun Fact: I love to hike!


Hayman Linn Lae Zaw, Ambassador 2023–2024Hayman Linn Lae Zaw
Hometown: Myanaung, Myanmar (Burma)
Concentration: Community, Management and Policy Practice
Interests: program management and research related to social inequality, adolescent development, family and community wellbeing, parenting, mental health, forced displacement and refugee communities
Practicum Placement: Refugee Community Partnership
Fun Fact: I love traveling and have been to 16 countries including Europe and Asia. I worked and organized activities together with international youths. I love to connect with people from all around the world.


3-Year MSW — Chapel Hill Program

Darian Buck, Ambassador 2023–2024Darian Buck
Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.
Concentration: Community, Management and Policy Practice
Interests: child welfare, interpersonal violence
Practicum Placement: StandUp-SpeakOut NC
Fun Fact: I got 4th place in an oyster eating contest—42 raw oysters in 5 minutes!


Shareen El Naga, Ambassador 2023–2024Shareen El Naga (MSW/MPH dual degree)
Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.
Concentration: Community Management and Policy Practice
Interests: policy, community organizing, refugees and immigration, violence prevention, racial equity, social determinants of health, facilitation
Practicum Placement: Jordan Institute for Families
Fun Fact: I work as a bartender/server in Carrboro


Sofia Lawrence, Ambassador 2023–2024Sofia Lawrence
Hometown: Asheville, N.C.
Concentration: Direct Practice
Interests: decolonizing social work practice, social inclusion, the application of Critical Race, DisCrit, and Queer theories in sexual violence prevention and response strategies, transformative justice
Practicum Placement: Orange County Rape Crisis Center
Fun Fact: No one believes this, but my favorite food is saltine crackers!


Devon Pelto, Ambassador 2023–2024Devon Pelto
Hometown: Orlando, Fla.
Concentration: Direct Practice
Interests: supporting individuals and families dealing with childhood trauma, family dynamics, substance use disorder, and community awareness surrounding suicide prevention
Practicum Placement: Student Wellness Program at the School of Social Work
Fun Fact: I’m a parent that loves to rock climb and ride motorcycles!


Beatriz Velázquez, Ambassador 2023–2024Beatriz Velázquez
Hometown: San Luis Potosí, México
Concentration: Direct Practice
Interests: Trauma-Informed care for children and adolescents with a focus on underrepresented communities, specifically immigrant and Latine populations
Practicum Placement: Center for Child and Family Health, Urbaniak Clinic
Fun Fact: Nature is my happy place!


3-Year MSW — Winston-Salem Program

Meghan Lever, Ambassador 2023–2024Meghan Lever
Hometown: Edmonds, Wash.
Interests: adolescent development, education policy, social emotional learning, eco-therapeutic approaches and nature connection, restorative practices
Practicum Placement: Winston Salem Forsyth County Schools
Fun Fact: Every grant I have applied for has been a request to incorporate animals in my work, I just can’t stop inviting animals to the office.



Caroline Blessing, Assistant Director of Admissions, Recruitment and Financial Aid