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Human Centered Design... Change Agents for People

Ron Whalen, PhD

Dr. Ron Whalen, a 2011 PhD graduate, describes his two deployments to Iraq with the US Army as a transformative experience. After witnessing the effects of the Army’s stop-loss program and combat exposure on the mental health of Army soldiers, he decided to pursue a PhD in social work. He describes USC’s program as supportive of students with a military focus: “I am grateful for the faculty support of the Armed Services and the Department of Defense.”

Whalen’s dissertation examined the mental health outcomes of the Army’s strategy of whole-unit deployment. In the 21st century, the Army found that units performed better if they trained and deployed together. Whalen found that the resulting cohesion has some positive effects on individuals’ mental health.

While still a PhD student, Whalen co-wrote a psycho-educational intervention to address the mental health outcomes of soldiers with high combat exposure. The intervention is unique because it targets the entire unit. Those without diagnosed mental health issues, therefore, benefit along with those who truly need the intervention. 

Now at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Whalen is helping to develop standardized clinical assessment tools to aid clinicians in making return-to-duty decisions for soldiers seeking counseling for mental health problems. He said, “The heavy emphasis on research and quantitative data in the PhD program really helped prepare me to conduct my current research at Walter Reed.”

 

Dissertation Title

Individual- and Unit-Level Coping Among Combat Veterans Subject to Army Force Stabilization System Personnel Policy

 

Publications and Presentations

Whalen, R., Foral, T., Prevette, C. & Radford, K. (Submitted). Retrospective evaluation of a stigma reduction information operation. Military Behavioral Health. 

Whalen, R. (2010). “In Defense of After Action Reviews: The Art and Science of Small Unit Coping.” Military Review, March-April 2010. 

Ruzek, J. & Whalen, R. (2004), PTSD Prevention, Uniformed Services Social Work Conference.

 

Awards and Honors

Bronze Star, 2005 and 2012 

NATO medal, 2012 

Presidential Unit Citation, 2003 Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, 2003, 2005 and 2012 Combat Medic Badge, 2003 Army Commendation Medal, (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), 1984, 1998, 2001 Army Achievement Medal, (1 Oak Leaf Cluster), 1986, 1997 Army Good Conduct Medal, 1986 National Defense Service Medal, 1996 Humanitarian Service Medal, 1996 

Army Service Ribbon, 1996

Sunny Sinha, PhD

Making Change Happen

Sunny Sinha spent four years working in the developmental sector on issues related to vulnerable women and children in India. Prior to joining the doctoral program at USC, she worked for two years in a HIV prevention project in Kolkata, India, and was amazed by the life stories of the women she met. “I found, in most cases, these women were liberated souls. All of the research before narrowly focused on their sexual health, ignoring their overall health and well-being.  It gave me the idea for research that includes these women in their social context and would address their issues related to overall health and well-being. ” 

Sinha’s research as a PhD candidate took her back to India to answer the question: What do “flying” sex workers (i.e., women without a fixed place of operation) perceive as being risks in their lives? She spent seven months with a group of women, listening to their stories and understanding their lives. Her research uses cultural biography, a unique research approach that combines a person’s life history and ethnography to reach its conclusions.

Now an assistant professor at Marywood University in Pennsylvania, Sinha is continuing to conduct research that addresses issues related to women’s overall health and well-being. 

 

Research Interests

Sinha considers herself a feminist scholar, and her research and scholarship focuses upon a wide range of global issues, including HIV prevention, sex work, trafficking, migration, gender, race, class and sexuality.

 

Dissertation Title

‘Flying’ female sex workers in Kolkata, India: Using ‘cultural biography’ to understand HIV risk perceptions

Chair: Dr. Naomi Farber, Associate Professor, College of Social Work, University of South Carolina.

 

Publications and Presentations

Fram, M.S., Kim, J. & Sinha, S. (2011). "Early care and prekindergarten care as influences on school readiness" Journal of Family Issues, 20, 1-28

Presenter, “A feminist approach to “cultural biography” in understanding HIV risk perceptions” for the Feminist Scholarship track at the Council for Social Work Education ( CSWE) 2011 Annual Program Meeting (APM), Atlanta, Georgia, 27th -30th October, 2011. 

 “Risk perceptions of an HIV positive woman residing in a brothel of Kolkata, India: A Case Study" at the 6th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2011), Rome, 17th -20th July 2011

 Presenter, “ Women in Non-Brothel based sex work speak: There is no future, what plans?” at the Unsettling Feminism(s) conference, Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois, Chicago, 22nd to 24th May, 2011 

Chair & Presenter, “Women in Non Brothel-Based Sex Work in Kolkata, India: Using “Cultural biography” to Understand Risk Perceptions,” for the session titled “Gendered Voices, Feminists, Sex Workers, and LGBT Communities” at the 38th Annual Conference on South Asia, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin, October 22nd –25th, 2009

Invited Panelist and Presenter, “Risks associated with being socially perceived as a "sex worker”: Non brothel-based sex workers in Central Kolkata, India” for the session titled “Home is where the heart is: food, shelter, and compassion in urban drop- in centers for sex worker’s” at the 69th Annual Meeting of Society for Applied Anthropology, Santa Fe, New Mexico, March 17th – 23rd, 2009 

Invited Speaker, “Lessons Learned About HIV Risk Perceptions of Women: A Case Study of Non-Brothel Based Sex Workers in Kolkata, India” for World AIDS Day at University of Mississippi, Oxford, December 1st,2011 

 

Other Activities or Awards 

Fahs-Beck Doctoral Dissertation Research and Experimentation Award (2009)

Ceny Walker Graduate Research Fellowship, Walker Institute of International Relations and Area Studies ( Spring, 2009) 

College of Social Work Travel Grant, University of South Carolina. 

Volunteer, Centre for Social Justice, Ahmedabad, India, April 2002 - Provided relief and rehabilitation services to families affected by the Godhra riots in Ahmedabad, India

Volunteer, Abhiyaan, Ahmedabad, India, February 2002 - Provided relief and rehabilitation services to earthquake-affected families and conducted damage assessment surveys within the earthquake-affected areas of Gujarat, India

 

Stephanie Kripa Cooper-Lewter, PhD 

Making Change Happen

Stephanie-Kripa-Cooper-Lewter-ProfileYoung children who are adopted by US families from other countries often struggle with their personal identity well into adulthood. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter studied the dynamics of international adoption with an insider’s perspective. She was left in a cradle outside of Mother Teresa’s orphanage in India, and was then adopted and raised by a woman in rural Minnesota.

For her doctoral dissertation, Cooper-Lewter interviewed 20 adult women who had been adopted from eight countries by U.S. families before age three. Life history studies of international adoptees are rare. Cooper-Lewter’s research likely will expand understanding of the cultural and psycho-social forces at play for individuals adopted from other countries.

“Part of the journey that many adoptees go through involves seeking answers to multiple questions like ‘How do I make sense of why I was chosen—among those who were left behind,’” Cooper-Lewter says. “Adoption is a lifelong journey; it’s not a one-time event.”

Cooper-Lewter wants to further study the impact of adoption to foster resilience and well-being and explore identity development among multiethnic individuals, immigrants, and those who are internationally adopted. Cooper-Lewter states, “Social work resonates with me because I value listening to the voices of others, knowing that the circumstances they face today do not define who they will become.”

Research Interests

Transnational Adoption, Multi-Ethnic Families, Identity, Immigration, International Social Work, Resilience, Leadership, Service, & Diversity

Dissertation Title

Identity Journeys: Life Stories of Women Adopted Transnationally as Children

Publications and Presentations

Cooper-Lewter, Stephanie & Cooper-Lewter, Courtney (August 2012 – Kindle Edition). Beautiful. In Chau, A. & Ost-Vollmers, K. (Eds.), Parenting as Adoptees. CQT Media & Publishing and LGA, Inc. 

July 21, 2012, Co-Presenter, North American Council on Adoptable Children, “Beyond Panels: Adopted Persons as Professionals,” with JaeRan Kim, Susan Branco Alvarado and Paula O’Lauglin, Washington, District of Columbia.

February 18, 2011, Symposium Presenter, 40th Annual Meeting of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research, “Reconstructing Who I Am: Life Stories of Transnationally Adopted Women in Young Adulthood,” Charleston, South Carolina.

October 15, 2010, Paper Presentation, St. John’s University, “Disrupting Dichotomous Discourse through Autoethnography,” Manhattan, New York.

March 25, 2009, Panel Member, Joint Council on International Children’s Services, “So How Did We Get Here? Exploring the Impact of Adult Adoptees on Intercountry Adoption Practice,” 2009 Inaugural Adult Adoptee Institute, “We’re Not Orphans Anymore,” Indianapolis, Indiana .

April 12, 2007, Lead Presenter, Joint Council on International Children’s Services, “The Significance of Relationships and Connections: Supporting Adopted Youth in their Transition to Adulthood,” 2007 Medical Institute and Conference: Building Bridges for Children – Navigating the Waters of Change in Intercountry Adoption, San Antonio, Texas.

Other Activities or Awards

2010 – 2011, Hull Fellow, Southeastern Council of Foundations, Atlanta, Georgia.

2007, Centennial Fellow, Graduate School, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

2004 – 2007, Minority Fellowship Program, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and awarded by the Council on Social Work Education, Alexandria, Virginia.

1998 – 1999, MSW Title IV-E Child Welfare Scholar, Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, University of Minnesota, School of Social Work, College of Human Ecology, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Spring 2007 - Designed and Taught University-Approved New Social Work Graduate Course, SOWK 768 – Seminar in Social Work: International Social Work and Social Justice Issues Graduate Course.

Fall 2006, Designed and Taught University-Approved New Social Work Undergraduate Course, SOWK 307 – International Social Work and Social Justice Issues Undergraduate Course.

2005, 2006, Recognition for Outstanding Contribution to Student Development, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

May 2005, Hooder for the M.S.W. Class of 2005, College of Social Work, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, First Ph.D. Student in history of College of Social Work selected by students as Hooder for M.S.W. graduation program in recognition for outstanding teaching.  

 

Kendra DeLoach, PhD

Dr. Kendra DeLoach graduated from USC with an MSW in 2002 and a PhD in social work in 2010. She says that her education and work experience equipped her with the research and practice knowledge she needed to collaborate on diverse research projects with colleagues from psychology, social work, and nursing. Her background also prepared her to teach undergraduate and graduate-level social work courses and to serve on boards and advisory panels to a few organizations in the community. 

“My education allowed me to serve as team leader of an interdisciplinary research team on a 5-year, federally funded, large-scale randomized control trial study,” DeLoach said about her work for the Center for Adolescent Research in Schools (CARS) project. This project included district and high school level administrators, general and special education teachers, school psychologists, school social workers, and school counselors. Together they worked to improve the social, emotional, or behavioral functioning of high school youth and their families.

The experience enhanced her skills in managing an interdisciplinary research team, developing procedural tools, conducting mental health and academic assessments, and working with school personnel to implement evidence-based interventions. “All these skills will help me conduct clinical-based research and programs that improve the lives of youth with social, emotional, and behavioral problems and their families,” she said.

Currently, DeLoach is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Syracuse University’s Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics.

 

Research Interests 

School mental health, mental health disparities among women of color, family development and functioning, and the intersectionality of race, class, and sex

 

Dissertation Title

Marital Attitudes of Never Married Black Women

 

Publications

DeLoach, K.P., Dvorsky, M., Miller, E., Paget, M. (in-press). Mental health issues and students with emotional and behavioral disorders advances in special education (Vol 22), Behavioral Disorders: Current Perspectives and Issues.

DeLoach, K. P., Taylor, L. K. (in press). Positive behavior support, system of care. In C. R. Reynolds, K. J. Vannest, & E. Fletcher-Janzen (Eds.), Encyclopedia of special education: A reference for the education of children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities and other exceptional individuals (4th ed.) Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley.

DeLoach, K.P., Dvorsky, M., White, R. (in-press). Culturally competent practice with African American youth and families in school mental health services. Handbook of culturally responsive practice.

George, Melissa R. W. & DeLoach, Kendra P.  (in-press). Behavioral health: Pre-K and elementary students (Sage Publications)

Pitner, R., Scott, L., & DeLoach, K. P. (2012). When deficits are misplaced: A comparison between African-American and White college students on qualitative and structural dimensions of interpersonal relationships. Journal of African American Studies, 16 (3), 511-536. DOI: 10.1007/s12111-011-9177-y

Taylor, L., DeLoach, K. P., Weist, M. (2012). Applying the Interactive Systems Framework to post-disaster context: A blueprint for school mental health, Journal of Community Psychology. 

DeLoach, K. P., Dvorsky, M., Miller, E., George, M., Weist, M.D., & Kern, L. (2012) Launching a large-scale research study in schools. NASP Communiqué 

Fram, M., Frongillo, E. A., Jones, S. J., Williams, R. C., Burke, M. P., DeLoach, K. P., & Blake, C. E. (2011). Children are aware of food insecurity and take responsibility for managing food resources. Journal of Nutrition, 141(6), 1114-1119. doi:10.3945/jn.110.135988

DeLoach, K. P. (2006). African American women, mental health, and HIV/AIDS: The affects on the African American family. In S. Logan, R. W. Denby, & P. Gibson, (Eds.), Mental health care in the African American community: A life course perspective (pp. 321-337). Haworth Press: Binghamton, AL.

 

Professional Presentations

DeLoach, K. P. & Watkins, K. Y. (October, 2011). Intentional families: Never married Black women’s attitudes towards marriage, identity, and childbearing. Council on Social Work Education, 57th Annual Program Meeting, Atlanta, GA.

Metzger, Isha W & DeLoach, Kendra P. (February, 2011). Cultural Sensitivity for Triple P. National Black Graduate Student Conference Doctoral Level poster competition abstract, Columbia, SC.

DeLoach, K. P. (2010, November). Center for Adolescent Research in Schools (CARS): Project Overview. University of South Carolina College of Social Work Brown Bag Series, Columbia, SC.

DeLoach, K. P. (2010, October). Wedding bell blues? Marital attitudes and messages received on Black women’s mental health. Poster presented at the Carolina Women’s Research Forum, Columbia, SC.

DeLoach, K. P. (2010, October). Wedding bell blues? The role of social workers in promoting mental wellness among never married Black women. Paper presented at the South Carolina – National Association of Social Workers, Chapter Meeting, Columbia, SC.

DeLoach, K. P. (2010, October). Wedding bell blues? Marital attitudes and messages received on Black women’s mental health. Paper presented at the Council on Social Work Education, Annual Program Meeting, Portland, OR.

DeLoach, K. P. & Hinojosa, R. J. (2008, April). Hijacking of race, class, and gender in the environment. Paper presented at the I. DeQuincey Newman Institute for Peace and Social Justice, Social Justice Day, Columbia, SC.

DeLoach, K. P. (2007, April). New York City AIDS experiments on Black children foster care. Paper presented at the I. DeQuincey Newman Institute for Peace and Social Justice, Social Justice Day, Columbia, SC.

DeLoach, K. P., Bradley, D., Fram, M., & Miller-Cribb, J. (2007, January). Building social capital: Diversity and relationship in social work education. Paper presented at the Society for Social Work Research Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA. 

DeLoach, K. P., & Montgomery, R. (2006, April). Corridor of shame: Is there a role for social workers. Poster presented at the I. DeQuincey Newman Institute for Peace and Social Justice, Social Justice Day, Columbia, SC.

DeLoach, K. P. (2005, April). Defining and reclaiming feminism: A practical approach for promoting social justice in the lives of everyone. Poster presented at the I. DeQuincey Newman Institute for Peace and Social Justice, Social Justice Day, Columbia, SC.

DeLoach, K. P. (2003, April). The interplay of child protective services and medical social work. Poster presented at Carolinas Medical Center Medical Professional Seminar, Charlotte, NC.

 

 

Academic Service

2010Conference volunteer, Society for Social Work Research

2005 – 2010Member, University of South Carolina, College of Social Work,

Undergraduate Committee

2005 & 2006 APM Volunteer, Council on Social Work Education

 

Community Service

2010 – 2013Faculty Affiliate, Women’s and Gender Studies Program

2010 – presentWomen’s Mentor Network, University of South Carolina

2009 – 2011Board of Directors for South Carolina Fair Share, Columbia, SC - Chairperson, Strategic Planning and Programming Committee

2007 – 2010Consultant, Palmetto Umoja

 

Professional Organizations

2011 – presentMember, Center for School Mental Health

2011 – presentMember, American Orthopsychiatric Association

2010 – presentMember, Phi Alpha – Social Work Honorary Society

2007, 2011Member, Society for Social Work Research (SSWR)

2006, 2011, 2012Member, Council of Social Work Education (CSWE)

2005 – present Member, National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

2005 – presentMember, S.C. Chapter of National Association of Social Workers

2005 – 2010Member, Black Graduate Student Association

2004 – 2010Member, Graduate Student Association

1996 – presentMember, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.

PhD Alumni


PhD Williams DSC0044 350x350Our alumni leave the PhD program prepared to be both scholars and educators. From higher education to military research, they rely on the solid foundation of research and teaching that they developed at the University of South Carolina.

Learn more about a few of our graduates:

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