Meet the newest students to join the school’s doctoral program
The doctoral social work program is pleased to introduce our incoming 2014 cohort of students. Doctoral students are not only here as learners, but are also highly integrated into faculty research projects and often teach classes in our B.S.W. and M.S.W. programs. Doctoral students complete their own dissertation research to advance knowledge that can be applied to social work practice and policy. Each of our five incoming students brings their own unique experiences in practice and a wide diversity in their interests.
Rachel Casey is returning to the School of Social Work for her Ph.D. studies after earning her Master of Social Work from VCU in 2012. She also studied at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Maine, and completed her Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology and Human Development. Casey has been working with adolescents in the foster care system as a residential clinician at Eliot Community Human Services at Avenues Group Home outside Boston, and previously worked as a mental health clinician with incarcerated women with mental health challenges. Casey is interested in exploring the ways in which crime and violence impact individuals, families and society as she pursues her Ph.D. One of the research questions she finds most interesting is how violence changes the “sense of place” that an individual or family experiences.
Pursuing a Ph.D. in Social Work will add to Sidnée Dallas’ rich, interdisciplinary experiences including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the VCU School of Nursing, a Master of Divinity from Virginia Union and a Master of Public Health from Eastern Virginia Medical School and Old Dominion University. Dallas currently has two parallel tracks in her professional and vocational life. She is the Program Administrator for the Children with Special Health Care Needs program in the Virginia Department of Health, and she is also an ordained minister with Trinity Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. In her Ph.D. program, Dallas intends to acquire the leadership and research skills she needs to combine her public health and ministry experience into academic and community service to develop evidence-informed community programs serving at-risk women, children, and youth.
Mike Massey has acquired extensive experience as a school counselor since receiving his Master of Educational, Counseling and Development from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and his Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from the College of William and Mary. His experiences include work as a school counselor in Monticello, Albemarle and Orange counties in Virginia and at the American College of Sofia in Sofia, Bulgaria. A year ago, Massey made a decision to begin the M.S.W. program here at VCU in order to study the macro and organizational issues that were impacting the students with whom he worked. After some immersion in the school’s SWAPPP curriculum, he realized that the research foundations of the Ph.D. Program may be an even better fit for developing his interests. Massey intends to build his research expertise, and develop best-practice models for community-based school engagement.
Breun Ricketts-Belcher has been living and working in Florida, and comes to Virginia with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Florida in Gainsville and an Master of Social Work from the University of South Florida in Tampa. In her post-M.S.W. career, she worked in child welfare settings in prevention and intervention support services for children and adolescents. Her work as a field liaison and adjunct instructor at Saint Leo University solidified for her that her next path in social work would be through teaching and research. It is Ricketts-Belcher’s clinical practical experiences that are inspiring her Ph.D. pursuits, where she hopes to develop and evaluate evidence-informed practices in foster care and adoption that are most responsive to the needs and concerns of children with special needs.
Rachel Rosenberg’s passion for policy is evident in the experiences she brings to her Ph.D. program. Her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond offered her a foundation to pursue her Master of Social Work from the University of Kentucky, in Lexington, in the Community and Social Development concentration. With her M.S.W., she worked with state and federal policy makers around issues of power and privilege as they play out in public policies for children and families. Most recently, her interests have been focused on the experiences of incarcerated adults including their child welfare involvement earlier in life. Rosenberg intends to change the lives of people through influencing the research-based policies that impact their lives, and we’re thrilled that she will undertake this learning as a part of her Ph.D. program here at VCU.