An UNCOMMON School of Social Work

Our diverse experiences inspire us. Our Richmond roots ignite us. Together, we listen, learn, and activate change UNLIKE any other. 

Want to join us? Request information or apply for our B.S.W., M.S.W. or Ph.D. programs. 

Meet some of our UNCOMMON Rams below.  

Headshot of Denise Burnette. Text to the left that says

The VCU School of Social Work has a long and distinguished history of preparing doctoral students for leadership positions within and beyond our profession. I am delighted to have the opportunity to build on this rich tradition by working closely with our Ph.D. students and in my role as president of GADE.” 

  • VCU Wurtzel Endowed Faculty Chair in Social Work
  • President, Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work, 2022-24
  • Fulbright Specialist, 2023

⇨ Learn more about Dr. Burnette: Wurtzel Chair  |  Fulbright  |  GADE presidency

Headshot of Anthony Estreet. Text to the left that says

When I'm out and about in the social work profession, I can always find somebody else who's a VCU alumni, and we can actually connect on the different experiences that we had at VCU. We can always connect back to classrooms, to professors, to different experiences, to Richmond. We are global, we're everywhere.” 

⇨ Learn more about Dr. Estreet.

Headshot of Maurice Gattis. Text to the left says

I never expected to use the empowerment perspective to start a clothing company that allows artisans in Ghana to share their expertise with the world while making money to help support themselves. Two runway shows during Washington, D.C., Fashion Week later, I continue this social work tradition. I did, however, expect to work with social services organizations and clients dealing with LGBTQIA+ youth experiencing homelessness in Cape Town, South Africa, during my Fulbright.” 

  • VCU associate professor of social work
  • Fulbright Scholar, South Africa, 2023
  • Co-PI, Marsha and Marian’s Neighbors, youth shared housing program
  • Interim co-chair, VCU Queer Research and Advocacy Center
  • Founder, Fort Mosé 1738 LLC, clothing company

⇨ Learn more about Dr. Gattis: Fulbright  |  Fort Mosé

Headshot of Aaron Kemmerer. Text to the right that says

For the past decade, I have been involved with social work efforts to ameliorate housing instability. The collaborative academic environment at VCU School of Social Work helped me to carry out research focusing on transgender and gender expansive Southerners. Throughout my time at VCU, I have met many amazing colleagues and felt truly supported by faculty, staff and peers. 

  • Doctoral Dissertation Award: Housing for transgender and gender expansive people in the U.S. South
  • Grand Challenges for Social Work (End Homelessness) and the New York Community Trust

⇨ Learn more about Aaron.

Headshot of Oscar Kemp. Text to the left that says

I fought imposter syndrome to emerge victorious from the Critical Language Scholarship program. I had never left America before participating in the CLS Swahili program, so my fears were high, but I was unafraid of failure and succeeded. My time at VCU has changed my life forever. I wish everyone … could experience the wealth of support, love and learning that I have experienced at this university.” 

  • Fulbright Scholarship recipient, Uganda, 2023-24
  • Critical Language Scholarship recipient, Tanzania, 2023
  • First undergraduate student representative on CSWE’s Board of Directors, 2022-25
  • Past president of Association of Black Social Workers at VCU

⇨ Learn more about Oscar.

Headshot of Katie Kim. Text to the left that says

In a field where many focus on the evident, my journey has been 'unconventional,' steering toward the unseen, exploring the deep-seated impacts of adverse early life experiences on adult health outcomes, concerning alcohol misuse. This pathway is not just about understanding the problem from a surface level, but delving deep into the layers of individual, social and cultural dynamics to carve out transformative solutions that are both healing and empowering. 

  • CSWE Minority Fellowship Program, 2023-2024

⇨ Learn more about Katie.

Headshot of Muna Saleh. Text to the right that says

The support you get at VCU … without it, I don’t think I would have been able to get these awards. At other programs, they tell you who your advisor is. At VCU, you pick. It’s like your mentor is courting you. I realized Dr. Hyojin Im had also studied at the University of Minnesota and worked with Somali refugees. The stars aligned.” 

  • Doctoral Policy Fellow, CSWE-SSWR-GADE, 2022-23
  • Health Policy Research Scholar, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2022-23
  • Co-founder, Minnesota community assistance agency for refugees

⇨ Learn more about Muna.

Headshot of Viola Vaughan-Eden. Text to the right that says

We must move upstream to the policy arena to prevent interpersonal violence. Although child abuse and interpersonal violence won’t end in my lifetime, I have an unwavering commitment to show up every day in the hope of ending this violence in the future. 

⇨ Learn more about Dr. Vaughan-Eden.