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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 (2021-2022)

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

Amanda Alston, Ambassador 2021-2022
Amanda Alston
Hometown: Sanford, N.C.
Concentration: CMPP
Interests: poverty, human rights, immigration, racial justice, access to resources in rural communities, economic justice, school-to-prison pipeline, health disparities, children, youth, families, veterans
Field Placement: Budget and Tax Center at the NC Justice Center
Fun Fact: I served three consecutive terms with the AmeriCorps VISTA program (in Newberry, S.C., Newark, N.J., and Richmond, Va.).

Samuel Bryant, Ambassador 2021-2022
Samuel Bryant
Hometown: Mount Vernon, Maine
Concentration: DP
Interests: individual and family psychotherapy, trauma-focused treatment modalities, crisis management
Field Placement: Hope Services LLC
Fun Fact: I play violin, guitar, mandolin, ukulele, and banjo.

Edith Galvan Lopez, Ambassador 2021-2022
Edith Galvan Lopez
Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.
Concentration: CMPP
Interests: public policy, domestic violence, health equity, human trafficking, management and administration, social justice
Field Placement: The American Cancer Society
Fun Fact: I’m a DACA recipient who has lived most of my life in North Carolina. Although I was born Mexico, I consider Raleigh my hometown, especially given that I’ve done kindergarten to undergraduate school all in Raleigh!

Mackenzie Phillips, Ambassador 2021-2022
Mackenzie Phillips
Hometown: Greensboro, N.C.
Concentration: DP
Interests: adolescent and young adult mental health, sports in social work, educational equity
Field Placement: UNC Student Wellness
Fun Fact: I have run more than 25 5K races.


20-Month Advanced Standing MSW Program

Allison Stersic, Ambassador 2021-2022
Allison Stersic
Hometown: Watertown, N.Y.
Concentration: CMPP
Interests: poverty, income inequality, workforce development, criminal justice reform, juvenile justice
Field Placement: myFutureNC
Fun Fact: I have been a whitewater rafting guide and a dog sled tour guide — super fun jobs!

Kathleen Tuohy
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Fl.
Concentration: DP
Interests: victim services, domestic violence, homicide support services
Field Placement: NC Victim Assistance Network
Fun Fact: I have an 8-year-old beagle named Ellie who is from Chapel Hill.


2-Year Full Time MSW Program

Naana Ewool, Ambassador 2021-2022
Naana Ewool
Hometown: Fredericksburg, Va. (by way of Ghana)
Concentration: CMPP
Interests: applying social work skills to radical community work, community care, healing justice, creating alternatives to policing through transformative justice
Field Placement: Durham Beyond Policing
Fun Fact: I’m basically an old lady — I enjoy sitting on my porch, reading, and watching the sunset.

Jeremy Finazzo, Ambassador 2021-2022
Jeremy Finazzo
Hometown: Durham, N.C.
Concentration: DP
Interests: substance use and recovery, behavioral healthcare with diverse communities, adolescent development
Field Placement: SouthLight Healthcare
Fun Fact: I am a first-generation college student and the second person in my immediate and extended family to pursue a master’s degree.

Roei Hillel, Ambassador 2021-2022
Roei Hillel
Hometown: Jerusalem, Israel
Concentration: DP
Interests: child and adolescent mental health, child protection, humanitarian emergencies, sexual trauma
Field Placement: UNC Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic
Fun Fact: My moto for life is RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Rachel Maguire, Ambassador 2021-2022
Rachel Maguire
Hometown: Mooresville, N.C.
Concentration: DP
Interests: mental health, gender violence
Field Placement: Evergreen Adult Community Clinic
Fun Fact: I have a pet hedgehog named Bean!

Darnisha Pulley, Ambassador 2021-2022
Darnisha Pulley
Hometown: Oxford, N.C.
Concentration: CMPP
Interests: adolescent mental health, school social work, adolescent sexual, reproductive health, health equity
Field Placement: Health Connect One
Fun Fact: I love singing! I am a spiritual being!

Juliana Wilson, Ambassador 2021-2022
Juliana Wilson
Hometown: Durham, N.C. (now, but I was a military child growing up)
Concentration: CMPP
Interests: domestic violence, trauma, tobacco cessation, addiction
Field Placement: NC Department of Health and Human Services – Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch
Fun Fact: I studied dance in East Java, Indonesia.

Tykara Young, Ambassador 2021-2022
Tykara Young
Hometown: Asheville, N.C.
Concentration: CMPP
Interests: racial equity work, children and families
Field Placement: UNC School of Government
Fun Fact: I like to write poetry.


3-Year MSW — Chapel Hill Program

Yuridiana Alston, Ambassador 2021-2022
Yuridiana Alston
Hometown: Chapel Hill, N.C. (I was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and moved to Chapel Hill when I was 4.)
Concentration: CMPP
Interests: access to higher education for minority students, first-generation advocacy, immigrants and refugees, mental health access for marginalized populations, generational trauma, social justice advocacy, prison reform
Field Placement: TBD
Fun Fact: I am a first-generation college graduate and the first person in my entire lineage to pursue a master’s degree. I enjoy painting and reading.

Katherin Castillo, Ambassador 2021-2022
Katherin Castillo
Hometown: Mount Airy, N.C.
Concentration: CMPP
Interests: dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, advocacy for reproductive justice, access to higher education for marginalized students, advocacy for first-generational students, working with immigrants, youth and young adults, intergenerational trauma
Field Placement: Bull City Community Schools
Fun Fact: I am a big foodie! I love checking out new restaurants in the triangle!


3-Year MSW — Winston-Salem Program

Anne Gladstone, Ambassador 2021-2022
Anne Gladstone
Hometown: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Interests: bridging the resource gap between rural and urban communities in North Carolina, assessing child welfare protocol across the state, researching ways to improve outcomes for families
Field Placement: TBD
Fun Fact: I ate a tarantula while living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It was super gross!

Ericka Hurt, Ambassador 2021-2022
Ericka Hurt
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Interests: working with middle and older adolescent who are experiencing homelessness, loss of a parent(s), LGBTQ+ youth
Field Placement: Time Out Youth
Fun Fact: I was the first student from Winston-Salem State University to attend the Human Rights Campaigns HBCU Leadership Conference.



Ben Balderas, Assistant Director of Recruitment, Admissions, and Financial Aid, 919-843-6284