Doctoral Students

 

Naheed Ahmed holds a Master's in Applied Bio-cultural Anthropology and a Master's in Public Health from the University of South Florida. She has worked on global health projects for the past 10 years. Her research interests include chronic diseases, mental health, and the effects of discrimination on minority populations. In her free time, Naheed enjoys hiking, running, and climbing.

 

Sam Allenthough known primarily for his appearance on The Price is Right in 2013, is a third-year Family Science doctoral candidate. He completed his M.S. in Couples and Family Therapy from The University of Maryland, wherein his master's thesis explored the emotional wellbeing of mothers of transgender and gender nonconforming children. Sam's research interests broadly include queer families of various permutations, racial minority families, and the intersection of the two. Outside of school, Sam works part-time in a private practice as a licensed couple and family therapist and enjoys teaching yoga classes throughout the DC metro area. In his spare time, Sam enjoys utilizing his experience in culinary school to cook for himself and loved ones, watching documentaries, and making people laugh.

 

Ryan Blick is a fourth-year Family Science doctoral student from Longmont, Colorado.  He earned his B.S. in Psychology and his M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Brigham Young University, and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Before coming to UMD, Ryan worked for seven years in various agencies and in private practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist.  Ryan's research interests include fathering and masculinity, including the development, maintenance and transmission of perceived roles and characteristics of fathers in the family.  He enjoys all sports and loves being outdoors; he regularly participates in softball, volleyball, flag football and basketball leagues.  He likes snowboarding in the winter, and hiking and camping in the summer; he also speaks German fluently, and has moderate fluency in Spanish. 

Diana Cassar-Uhl is a fourth-year Maternal and Child Health doctoral student from the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York. She graduated from the Ithaca College School of Music with a Bachelor of Music in Clarinet Performance, and earned her Master of Public Health in Behavioral Science and Health Promotion from New York Medical College. Diana spent 17 years on active duty as a professional clarinetist in the U.S. Army. She is a board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) and has supported breastfeeding families and the healthcare professionals and volunteers who serve them since 2005. She also worked for a year as a health communications fellow at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Diana is interested in studying the physiology of mothers and babies as they relate to lactation and breastfeeding outcomes. In her free time, Diana enjoys exploring Washington DC, eating out, traveling, and spending time with her husband and three children.

 

Andrew Conway is a second-year Family Science doctoral student. He received his Master of Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore and completed a post-MSW fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center. Andrew is a Licensed Social Worker and worked as Clinical Faculty at the Yale School of Medicine in the Intensive In-Home Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services program. Andrew’s research interests include the impact of intergenerational trauma on youth mental health, youth absenteeism, and the interaction of vulnerable families with state systems.

Laura Drew is a third-year Maternal and Child Health doctoral student. Prior to living in Maryland, she lived in Texas, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Malawi. She earned her B.S. in Zoology from Miami University. During her undergraduate studies, she served as an International Health Ambassador for the Department of Kinesiology and Health’s study abroad program and attended meetings at the World Health Organization, Doctors without Borders, and International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. Laura earned her MPH in Epidemiology and an Interdisciplinary Specialization in Global Health from the Ohio State University. For her practicum, Laura worked at Columbus Public Health for a study that examined a possible biomarker of recent unprotected sexual activity, sexual behaviors, and body image of men who have sex with men. Because of a strong passion to help women and girls with obstetric fistula, Laura dedicated her Culminating Project to this topic and later traveled to work with UNC Project-Malawi at the Freedom from Fistula Foundation’s Fistula Care Clinic in Lilongwe, Malawi. In addition to improving the lives of women who have suffered from an obstetric fistula, Laura’s research interests include the following: reproductive health interventions and education in resource-limited settings, socio-behavioral epidemiology, sexual violence in areas of conflict, gender equality and empowerment of disadvantaged individuals, and community-based health programs in resource-limited settings that focus on maternal and child health. In her free time, Laura enjoys cooking, baking, hiking, traveling, paddle boarding, kayaking, and spending time with family and friends, as well as her two dogs, Dinah and Jasper. An interesting fact one would never know from meeting Laura is she used to be an avid horse rider and competed in equestrian jumping competitions.

Kecia Ellick is a third-year Family Science doctoral student. She currently holds a M.S. degree in Applied Developmental Psychology from Clayton State University and dual B.A. degrees in Psychology and Sociology from Georgia State University, with concentrations in community psychology & gender and sexuality, respectively. Kecia was born and raised in Chicago, IL and lived in Atlanta, GA for 15 years prior to relocating to the DMV. Kecia returned to college later in life and was considered a “non-traditional” student. She has 3 adult children who are currently working on their own undergraduate degrees. Kecia’s research interests broadly include the psychosocial development of African-American teen mothers, adolescent parenting, co-parenting relationships between adolescent parents, and the impact of interpersonal relationships on the transition to adulthood. Her master’s thesis focused on post-secondary education attainment for teen mothers. Kecia loves to laugh and will always find a reason to do so. In her free time she loves to sing karaoke! She loves an audience, but one isn’t necessary. If she’s not able to get out to a local karaoke bar, Kecia will fire up her home machine and become a superstar for 3 ½ minutes at a time in the comfort of her own living room. 

Jenifer Fahey Jenifer Fahey is a fifth-year Maternal and Child Health doctoral candidate originally from Mexico but now a full-fledged Marylander (via Texas). She earned a B.A. in Humanities from the University of Texas at Austin. Jenifer also earned a M.S. in Public Health at Harvard University and a M.S. in Nursing (Midwifery) from Yale University. She is currently a member of faculty at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (Baltimore) where she practices as a full-scope  midwife and also works as Director of Maryland Advanced Perinatal Support Services Program, a collaborative program with DHMH and the Johns Hopkins’ Obstetric Department to help provide outreach support to community providers of perinatal care. Jenifer is interested in maternal mortality reduction (through provider training in management of obstetric emergencies); maternal obesity; and the health of women in the first year following childbirth. When she is not catching babies in Baltimore or writing a paper for class, Jenifer is most likely to be watching one of her daughters (11 and 13) playing soccer or enjoying a pint of home-brew with her husband, Sean.

Julie Fife is a third-year Maternal and Child Health doctoral candidate from Montana. She earned a B.S. in Health Sciences from Boise State University and a MPH from the University of Montana. Her interest in maternal and child health began during her two-year AmeriCorps service where she worked with school-based family resource centers in Missoula, MT.  Julie most recently worked as an adjunct faculty member for the University of Montana's School of Public Health where she taught courses for master of public health students. Julie was also the Montana Primary Care Office Director for the Montana Department of Health and Human Services where she coordinated the state's health professional shortage area (HPSA) designations data collection and analysis.  She is interested in evaluating the impact of policies on family health. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband and four kids exploring the east coast.

 

Jessica Gleason is a second-year doctoral student in Maternal and Child Health. Originally from the west coast, Jessica joined the Air Force after earning her B.S. in Microbiology from UC Santa Barbara. After separating from the Air Force and working full-time as a mother and military spouse for several years, she began a new career track by entering the MPH program in Behavioral and Community Health at the University of Maryland. Upon graduation, she received a Dean's Scholar award and was inducted into the Delta Omega public health honor society. Her master's thesis involved collecting primary data to examine associations between PCS moves, continuity of care, and patient satisfaction in military families. In addition to working with military families, she is interested in researching disparities in pregnancy outcomes in minority populations, and has worked with the organization B'More for Healthy Babies to help evaluate programs implemented to improve birth outcomes in these populations in Baltimore. For her master's internship experience, she worked for Johns Hopkins HealthCare, where she analyzed data related to the CDC Worksite Health ScoreCard for the 12 Johns Hopkins entities. In her "free time," Jessica is a Daisy/Brownie Girl Scout troop co-leader for her two daughters (5 and 8), and captive audience, along with her husband, for her 3-year-old son's cuteness/tyranny.

 

Laura Golojuch is a third-year Family Science doctoral student from Arlington, Virginia. She graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Psychology and English and Studio Art minors. Laura earned her M.S. in Couple and Family Therapy from the University of Maryland and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Her Masters thesis explored the transition to adulthood for socioeconomically disadvantaged young Black men. Laura’s research interests include the unique experiences of Black men in the transition to adulthood, health disparities, integrating services for socioeconomically disadvantaged families, and community engaged research. In her free time, Laura enjoys spending time with friends and family, eating, cooking, and practicing yoga.

Haedong (Shawn) Kim is a third-year Family Science doctoral student from Ann Arbor, Michigan and Seoul, South Korea. Most recently, Shawn has completed the Couple and Family Therapy Masters program in this department. Prior to the masters program, he earned his B.A. in Education from Hanyang University at Seoul, South Korea and a Master of Divinity from Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary at Seoul, South Korea. He has worked as a children’s pastor for six and seven year olds and as an English teacher in Korea. Shawn is interested in the racial discrimination experiences of ethnic/racial minorities, especially Asian Americans, and its health implications. In his spare time, Shawn enjoys photography, drawing, basketball, jogging, and playing with his kids.

Anthony Kondracki is a fourth-year Maternal and Child Health doctoral student from Central Florida. He earned his MD at the Jagiellonian University College of Medicine in Krakow, Poland, and his MPH in Global Maternal and Child Health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, LA. Tony has worked for the Louisiana Department of Public Health, Division of Maternal and Child Health, on research projects on the prevalence of birth defects in the state of LA; he also worked as a house officer at Jagiellonian University Hospitals and Clinics and was a student trainee at the National Institute of Public Health and Hygiene Department of Toxicology and Environmental Epidemiology. His current research interests include reproductive epidemiology and toxicology, environmental exposures and adverse reproductive outcomes, preterm birth and infant mortality prevention, fetal origins of adult disease, health care disparities and cultural competency within MCH populations, and interdisciplinary research and practice. In his free time, Tony enjoys walking and riding his bike, reading, listening to music, cooking, going out with family and friends, traveling, and learning foreign languages. He also enjoys doing pro bono work in the clinics, hospitals and volunteering at any and all community charitable events while reaching out to populations to better understand health conditions, demographics and social issues. 
Yuki Lama is a second-year Maternal and Child Health doctoral student. She studied French Cultural Studies and Biology at the University of Connecticut. When her plans to become a physician in France did not come to fruition, she went on to earn her MPH from Claremont Graduate University. For her culminating project, she examined trends of adolescent health, including pregnancy and STI rates, within Riverside County to inform education and intervention efforts aimed at improving health outcomes. Her research interests include adolescent parenting, tobacco cessation, and home visiting. During her free time, she can be found eating donuts or playing with other people's dogs.
Ronneal Matthews is a fifth-year Maternal and Child Health doctoral candidate from Oklahoma City, OK. She earned her B.S. in Community Health from the University of Central Oklahoma and her MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She has 11 years of experience in the field of public health. Most of her work has been in chronic disease prevention, sexual and reproductive health and Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR). She has worked primarily as a Project Manager conducting program planning, implementation, curriculum development and evaluation. Her current clinical and research interests include sexual and reproductive health of African American women and girls with an emphasis on how intergenerational programs and interventions can impact sexual and reproductive health. Ronneal loves singing, cooking, reading novels, writing poetry and short stories (writing a novel is on her bucket list), playing computer games, going to the park with her kids, going to the movies and going to live music events (especially jazz, deep house & soul). She loves reading Young Adult fiction like Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, etc. She has two beautiful girls, Journey (8) and Inaya Freedom (5) and a wonderful husband Joseph who is also in graduate school.    
Jenna Beckwith Messman is a fourth-year Family Science doctoral student from Arlington, VA.  She has served as the Sexual Health Program Coordinator at the University of Maryland Health Center since 2011. She coordinates sexual health education, programming and service needs of the campus community, trains and supervises peer educators, provides individual and/or group consultations, and serves as an active LGBTQ advocate and ally on campus. Jenna has extensive experience establishing sexual wellness and LGBTQ programming and services in both high school and university settings. In addition to her sexual health and sexuality expertise, Jenna has considerable experience in peer education as well as individual and family-focused substance abuse prevention and intervention programs. Prior to her arrival at University of Maryland, she worked in the Health Promotion office at Florida Atlantic University and in the Office of Health Promotion & Wellness at her alma mater, The Pennsylvania State University.  Jenna graduated Phi Beta Kappa from PSU with dual bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Crime, Law & Justice as well as earning a Master's of Education in Secondary School Counseling. Her research interests include resources for adults raising gender nonconforming or transgender children and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health program design and implementation.
Ally Pakstis is a fourth-year Family Science doctoral student from South Jersey. She earned her B.S. in Psychology from Philadelphia University and her M.P.H. in Maternal and Child Health from The George Washington University. After college Ally worked with the American Red Cross in the Emergency Services Department as an AmeriCorp member, where she taught community emergency preparedness in Philadelphia and responded to natural/manmade disasters. After graduate school she worked as a social science researcher and concentrated on implementation science (e.g. EBPs, scaling up, readiness), program evaluation, positive youth development, cultural and linguistic competence, and rural behavioral health. As a researcher she provided technical assistance to communities nationwide in child and family mental health, implemented a national evaluation study on mentoring interventions for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and supported the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs for the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Ally's current research interests include the transgenerational effects of histroical trauma on families.  In her free time Ally is typically reading too many books at once, obsessing over her adorable dog Lunabelle, going for a run, kayaking in Georgetown, and/or snacking.
Ashley Pantaleao is a second-year doctoral student in the Family Science program. She graduated with a M.A. in Health Psychology from Central Connecticut State University. Her research interests focus on the dynamic relationship between a parent/caregiver and their child.  Ashley has 5 years of experience working at a children's hospital as a research assistant. Many of Ashley’s research experiences have focused specifically on the parent-child relationship in the context of the child having a chronic illness or other significant health concerns. Ashley enjoys cooking, going to fitness classes, and going on hikes in her spare time. 
Shy Porter is a second-year doctoral student in the Family Science program. She completed the M.S. in Couple and Family Therapy degree from the Department of Family Science in May 2016 and spent the summer of 2016 as an intern at the National Institutes of Health. She has remained involved in research at NIH.
 
Shy's research interests are focused on mating, dating, and relationship formation processes as well as relationship maintenance behaviors across the lifespan. She is also interested in sexual and reproductive health and its impact on couple relationships. Shy is particularly passionate about understanding the nuances of these research topics within ethnic minority communities. Her master's thesis explored the perception of a shortage of "marriageable" African American men among African American women. She plans to continue to hone her interests in couples/marriage research in the coming years.
 
Outside of school, Shy works in private practice as a licensed couple and family therapist in Bethesda, MD. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, reading, exploring new areas, trying new restaurants, and spending quality time with friends.

Deirdre Quinn is a fourth-year Family Science doctoral candidate from Washington, DC. She graduated from Georgetown University with a BA in English and minors in French and Government.  She earned an MLitt. in Creative Writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and an MSc. in Gender & Social Policy from the London School of Economics & Political Science, where her thesis focused on the conflict in the United States between religiously-sponsored health systems and the diverse communities they serve.  Most recently Deirdre has worked for an energy consulting firm as a proposal and grant writer; she has previously taught English at the high school and college level and is also a bartender!  Her research interests include reproductive health and family planning program design, implementation, and evaluation; the development of population, family planning and reproductive health policy; the intersection of religion and health; and young women's decision-making during the transition to adulthood.  In her free time, Deirdre loves to read, travel and update her book review blog.

Allison Schroeder is a fourth-year Family Science doctoral candidate and graduate of the CFT masters program from Baltimore, MD. She earned a B.A. in Psychology, with a minor in Philosophy, from the University of Texas at Austin. Allison also earned a masters in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University. She previously worked as the Director of International Partnerships at World Relief, an international relief and development organization. Prior to that position, she conducted workforce development policy research for the Abell Foundation in Baltimore. Allison’s research interests include maternal mental health in contexts of cumulative disadvantage, and the processes by which parental health and child health shape each other over time. She is particularly interested in policy and program interventions that reduce health disparities and support the development of family resilience. In addition to doctoral student and mental health clinician, Allison is also a wife (to Richard, a Canadian who works in the field of international economic development) and mom (to Ian, an energetic and passionate first-grader who is currently an avid fan of Minecraft).

Towanda Street is a fourth-year Family Science doctoral student from Arnold, MD. She earned her B.A. in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina and her M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Liberty University. Towanda is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with clinical interests in fostering healthy relationships among married and engaged couples.  She works as a Christian Counselor at the Renaissance Christian Counseling Center in Baltimore, MD and a Crisis and Family Counselor at Greenbelt CARES in Greenbelt, MD.  A retired Naval Officer, Towanda's research interests focus on the impact of frequent deployments on military families and couple relationships.   Her passion is to provide military service members and their families with resources designed to minimize the stressors of military life and improve overall quality of life. In her spare time, Towanda enjoys reading, exercising, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
 

Yassaman Vafai is a fourth-year Maternal and Child Health doctoral candidate from Tucson, Arizona. She earned a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona and an M.P.H. in Maternal and Child Health from Boston University. She has recently worked at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as a summer intern; as an independent project consultant at Boston Medical Center; and as a graduate research assistant at Boston University School of Public Health. Her current research interests include the mental and biological development of adolescents; and global health, specifically infectious disease and nutrition.  In her free time, Yassaman enjoys outdoor activities, traveling, and reading poetry. 

Jenni Young is a fourth-year Family Science doctoral student and graduate of the CFT masters program from Madison, WI. She earned a B.A. in Psychology and Mandarin Chinese from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Jenni also earned her M.A. in Chinese language and culture from The Ohio State University. She previously worked in Beijing as the Operations Manager at the Care for Children School for Children with Special Needs and the Care for Children Family Therapy Clinic. Prior to that position, she was a research assistant at Beijing Normal University’s Institute of Developmental Psychology. Jenni's research and clinical interests include interracial family relations, cross-cultural communication, and medical family therapy. She is currently in her second year as a pre-doctoral fellow at the Clinical Genetics branch of the National Cancer Institute, NIH. In her spare time, she enjoys playing board games, biking, and being outdoors. 

 

Couple and Family Therapy Students

Gabriela Barber is a first-year Couple and Family Therapy student from Clermont, Florida. She graduated from Princeton University in 2017, with an A.B. in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. During her time as an undergraduate, she was actively involved in several volunteer organizations on campus, volunteered answering calls for a local crisis hotline and the national suicide hotline, worked with other groups on campus and within the community to implement a pilot program at Princeton University for a campus-specific crisis chat service, and completed her senior thesis in a developmental psychology lab. Her current research interests include working with couples as they make the transition to parenthood and work through the challenges and difficulties that can come with this transition, including issues of infertility. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with friends, and relaxing.  
Crystel Britto is a master's candidate in the Couple and Family Therapy program from Rockville, Maryland. She earned her A.A. in International Relations from Montgomery College, while in the Montgomery Scholars Program. She also earned her B.A. in International Affairs with concentrations in Global Public Health and Conflict & Security in May 2011. During her time as an undergraduate, she completed her Capstone Project on international water scarcity and conflict issues, and started the UNICEF Campus Initiative to raise funds for international water, sanitation, and hygiene projects in water-scarce areas of the world. She has interned at the Mennonite Central Committee, International Medical Corps and American Red Cross (National Capital Region) focusing on policy and refugee work. She currently works for Montgomery County Government, Department of Health and Human Services as the Quality Assurance Specialist for the Coordination of Community Services Program. She has worked for programs serving those with developmental disabilities for the past four years, helping enable those individuals to integrate into their communities within Montgomery County, Maryland.  
Ashley Copeland is a first-year Couple and Family Therapy Master’s student from Christiansburg, Virginia. She earned a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Virginia Tech in May 2016. During her time as an undergraduate, Ashley was heavily involved in school service. She was a Resident Advisor, Orientation Leader, as well as a member of the Marching Virginians and many other music ensembles. Outside of these activities, Ashley was dedicated to a research lab centered on prosocial behavior interventions, as well as the Women’s Resource Center, which is a community program providing services to adult and child victims of sexual and domestic violence. Both of these programs became her focus this past year as she worked as the Research Lab Coordinator as well as a Crisis Intervention Intern and Overnight Substitute for the Women’s Resource Center. Outside of academics and work, Ashley enjoys traveling, playing (and listening to) music, snacking, and spending time with family and friends.  
Stefania Gheorghiu is a first-year Couple and Family Therapy Masters student from Baltimore, Maryland. She earned her B.A. in Psychology and French Studies from Smith College in 2017, and spent a semester studying abroad at the University of Geneva in Switzerland during the spring of 2016. Her curiosity for exploring the lengths and limitations of psychological resilience, and the consequences of trauma and other environmental factors on the psyche, has fueled her passion for research. Throughout her undergraduate career she worked as a research assistant for Dr. Nnamdi Pole, whose research focuses on trauma and a variety of related disorders including: PTSD, complex PTSD, police-related PTSD, dissociation, and trauma-specific treatments. In her senior year, Stefania became involved in volunteer work for Safe Passage, a non-profit organization that provides shelter and support to survivors of domestic violence. This experience helped bridged the gap between her research knowledge and clinical practice, which inspired Stefania to pursue a career in Marriage and Family Therapy. At UMD, Stefania plans to continue along the research path, and looks forward to absorbing the wealth of opportunities and knowledge provided by this world-class institution.  

Katie Hippen is a second-year Couple and Family Therapy M.S. student from Elkridge, Maryland. She earned her B.S. in Family Science from the University of Maryland at College Park, with minors in Human Development and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies. In college, Katie worked as a research assistant at the Center on Young Adult Health and Development (CYAHD) and as a research coder at the Couples Abuse Prevention Program (CAPP). She was also an administrative assistant at Laurel Fay & Associates, LLC, a couples and family therapy private practice located in Silver Spring, MD. After undergrad, Katie attended Georgia State University (GSU) where she earned her M.A. in Sociology, with a concentration in Family, Health, and Life Course. Her master's thesis was titled, “Attitudes Toward Marriage and Long-term Relationships Across Emerging Adulthood.” Since returning to Maryland, Katie has continued her work with CYAHD as a graduate research assistant and with Laurel Fay & Associates, LLC as an administrative assistant. She is also currently working as a therapist intern at the Center for Healthy Families. Katie’s research and clinical interests include sexuality, LGBT families, aging, divorce, depression, anxiety, and trauma. In her free time, Katie enjoys spending time with friends and family, singing, playing guitar, hiking, jogging, canoeing, eating lots of popcorn, crocheting, drinking wine, reading, and playing with her cat, Divina.

Emma Levin is a first-year student in the Couple and Family Therapy program from Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a B.A. in Psychology. As an undergraduate, Emma completed a research thesis using data from the Harvard Study of Adult Development to examine marital satisfaction in first and second marriages, which remains a research interest of hers. Her other research and clinical interests include families with children who are queer or trans, mixed families, and couple communication. In her free time, Emma reads, watches stand-up comedy, and spends time with friends and family.
Stephanie Martinez is a first-year Couple and Family Therapy student from El Paso, Texas. She graduated from American University in May 2016, earning a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Marketing. During her time as an undergraduate, Stephanie volunteered at The National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Family Place in Washington, D.C. She interned at The Child and Family Network Centers, where she shadowed social workers as they conducted psycho-social analyses on parents and family members of students in the Alexandria area and analyzed how parent-child interactions affect kindergarten-aged children in the classroom. Stephanie's current research interests focus on marital and couple relationships within Latino immigrant communities. In her free time, she likes eating new foods, watching Netflix documentaries and laughing with her roommate.
ElexisO'Neill Elexis O'Neill is a first-year Master’s student in the Couple’s and Family Therapy program. After growing up on a farm in North Texas, Elexis attended Pomona College, a small liberal arts school in California. At Pomona, she majored in Psychology while babysitting and volunteering. Her thesis researched the moderating effect of resilience and self-compassion on the relation between traumatic experiences and empathy. Elexis has a soft spot for children and animals; her best weekends are spent finding the fuzziest and friendliest petting zoos in the DMV.
Elena Sanchez Dominguez is a first-year Couple and Family Therapy Masters student. Originally from Seville, Spain, Elena earned a B.A. in Marketing and a master’s degree in Administration. After a few years working as a Coordinator of Business Management and Management Consultant, she decided to go back to college to study business. She began working for the Spanish government in Afghanistan in 2007. She was transferred to Washington, DC in 2008, where she has lived since then. In her free time, Elena enjoys traveling, hiking in the Shenandoah, lifting weights, zumba, reading and spending time with friends.
Jannel Thomas is a first-year Couple and Family Therapy master’s candidate. She earned her B.A. in Psychology and Family Science from the University of Maryland. She has worked in the non-profit sector as a Respite Program Coordinator for active-duty military families who have children with special needs. Her volunteer work includes working as a Call Counselor for a local hotline, volunteering at a local hospice center in the bereavement department, and other community activities. Her research interests include mental health research in minority families, intimate partner violence, trauma, abuse, and improving the quality of interpersonal relationships. Her hobbies include spending time with friends and family, watching various TV shows, Zumba, hiking, and going to the beach.