School of Social Work

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

The VCU School of Social Work’s Ph.D. Program welcomed five new students for the Fall 2022 cohort. They are

Why did you choose VCU School of Social Work for your Ph.D.?

Victoria Cashio headshot
Victoria Cashio

Victoria: As a military student, there are a few qualifications an educational institution must meet in order to be approved for study. VCU met these criteria and exceeded my expectations throughout the application and interview process.

Jeff: I was very focused on attending a school that provided some traditional mentorship so I would have the opportunity to learn under an experienced professor, had many opportunities for doctoral students to conduct research, and whose graduates were finding well-suited placements within academia. VCU School of Social Work was the best fit for all three of my criteria.

What are your reflections after one semester in the program?

Ya-Li: What I love about the VCU School of Social Work is that it cares more about you as a whole person rather than just training you as a cog in an academic machine. The humanity, support and connections here for cultivating future scholars are priceless.

Are there any particular faculty connections that drew you to the program?

Katie Kim headshot
Katie Kim

Reem: Generally, the variety of areas of expertise across the faculty members was fascinating. Not only did I see a lot of overlap in my own areas of interest, but I could also identify new ways of examining my research interests. 

Katie: I was deeply interested in VCU SSW faculty’s research that focused on interdisciplinary approaches through community engagement and community partnerships. 

Where do you see yourself at the end of the program?

Ya-Li Yang headshot
Ya-Li Yang

Ya-Li: After completing the program, I expect to be a researcher who can collaborate with non-profit organizations or public sectors to bridge the gap between research and services. I look forward to utilizing my research skills to contribute to marginalized populations and to empower them to reach their full potential.

Katie: Ultimately, I want to conduct research that can bring changes in the mental health field, eliminating health disparities and promoting the well-being of marginalized populations. 

What social problem are you trying to solve or what population will you focus on?

Reem Shawkat headshot
Reem Shawkat

Reem: I want to continue to study identity development among immigrant populations in the United States. More specifically, ethnic-racial identity development.

Ya-Li: Believing that prevention is better than cure to protect people from substance misuse, I am also interested in developing and evaluating culturally relevant substance misuse prevention programs for minority youth. 

Victoria: My interests are in line with the Army’s “People First” initiative, an effort to prioritize the needs and welfare of those who wear the uniform and to eliminate social problems like sexual violence, suicide and discrimination. 

Jeffrey Ciak headshot
Jeffrey Ciak

Jeff: My primary population of interest is individuals with severe mental illness. The problems that interest me mainly relate to accessibility and effectiveness of services for individuals with serious mental illness (SMI).

Katie: My academic and professional interests focus on substance misuse and childhood trauma-related psychiatric disorders and their impact on social development and daily functioning. 

Categories Education, Research, Students
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