School of Social Work

No. 28 M.S.W. Program in the U.S.


Avina Ichele Ross is a vigorous advocate and doctoral candidate at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work. Her research area is interdisciplinary and includes black socio-feminist inquiry on gender violence discourse of the black community. Her preliminary research in this area won second place at VCU’s School of Social Work Research Symposium in 2015. Driven by the victims’ and survivors’ stories and experiences she heard while working as a front-line advocate and community response specialist, Ross is passionate about expanding social work into media discourse inquiry and expressing its relevance to social work education and practice.

Ross’ qualitative and interdisciplinary dissertation, “Black Feminist Discourse Analysis of Portrayals of Gender Violence Against Black Women: A Social Work Dissertation,” explores the portrayals of gender violence against black women in Tyler Perry films, a contemporary genre of black popular culture. The study is grounded in black feminist thought, intersectionality and discourse theory. She plans to extend this research by examining media-shaped perceptions of and responses to gender violence.

Not only is Ross an experienced educator in sociology and women’s studies, but she has expertise in interpersonal violence prevention; program development, management and evaluation; and advocacy and training. She applies feminist, andragogic and peer-facilitated frameworks in her practice as an advocate and educator. Her teaching interests include feminist theory, practice and activism; social work and media; interpersonal violence and social work; qualitative research methodologies; and social work with oppressed groups.

Categories Alumni, Students