CWSP 2023 graduates

Meet our next group of graduates committed to engaging families, supporting children and fostering connections.

The School of Social Work is pleased to share details about our 14 May and August 2023 graduates from the Child Welfare Stipend Program at VCU. Learn more about CWSP / May 2023 Commencement

Cathleen "Cat" Atkinson

Headshot of Cat Atkinson 

The CWSP at VCU has helped me understand what it actually means to be a part of a family and young person’s life. Often families do not want the system's intervention, so learning to identify our power and privilege as child welfare workers in the lives of families helps establish true connection while reminding us that we're all human.” 

Learn more about Cat.

Elena Boyle

Headshot of Elena Boyle 

The CWSP at VCU has encouraged me to advocate for myself and take ownership of my education, which is a valuable leadership skill.” 

Learn more about Elena.

Samantha Chavez

Headshot of Samantha Chavez 

As a bilingual student, I am able to help advocate for Spanish-speaking families and ease their journey through the child welfare system.”

Learn more about Samantha.

Robyn Coleman

Headshot of Robyn Coleman 

I believe that children deserve an opportunity to thrive in life. Their early years are the most vital, and they need caregivers to encourage their potential, while ensuring their safety, health and well-being.”

Learn more about Robyn.

Alexis Dickerson

Headshot of Alexis Dickerson 

You could say my niche found me! I was a post-undergraduate student when I needed a job; the only jobs available at the time were in child welfare. I ended up falling in love with the work and stuck with it.”

Learn more about Alexis.

Sophie Grace

Headshot of Sophie Grace 

The program has encouraged me to speak up and advocate more for myself. It has been great to know that the CSWP advisors want you to succeed and will work with you to achieve your goals.”

Learn more about Sophie.

Kayla Graves

Headshot of Kayla Graves 

The CWSP has empowered me to be an advocate for change and speak up for vulnerable populations who may not have the ability to speak up for themselves during challenging times.”

Learn more about Kayla.

Lizzie Heier

Headshot of Lizzie Heier 

I have been able to incorporate my knowledge from my classes at VCU into my field placement. This knowledge has enabled me to bring a fresh perspective into my agency to better advocate for the children in child welfare.”

Learn more about Lizzie.

Marianne Lund

Headshot of Marianne Lund 

The CWSP at VCU has allowed me to work with vulnerable populations like the Latino/Hispanic community, families with parents experiencing substance use disorders and homes experiencing generational engagement with DSS. I've been able to advocate for these families by cultivating collaborative engagement between clients and court-appointed service providers – historically a fragile relationship.”

Learn more about Marianne.

Andrea Olguin

Headshot of Andrea Olguin 

The CWSP at VCU  has taught me to foster connections as a professional social worker by encouraging teamwork, having courage to ask questions and emphasizing the importance of asking for help. I have also been encouraged to make and maintain connections at VCU post-graduation. My cohort peers always support one another in our mutual experience.”

Learn more about Andrea.

Evelin Perez Rodriguez

Evelin Perez Rodriguez 

The CWSP at VCU has helped me learn to engage families in a meaningful way. The opportunity to work in foster care has led to various meaningful encounters with families, especially Hispanic families, who have appreciated our shared ethnicity. I believe that connection has made children and families feel more comfortable with me.”

Learn more about Evelin.

Lauren Sherman

Headshot of Lauren Sherman 

The CWSP at VCU has always shone a light on populations that are particularly vulnerable within the child welfare system. They have taught us to look at every situation with a culturally aware lens and empathy.”

Learn more about Lauren.

Tim Wallace

Headshot of Tim Wallace 

The CWSP at VCU has helped me develop resiliency by fostering a supportive community of peers dedicated to advancing child welfare.”

Learn more about Tim.

Claire Witmer

Headshot of Claire Witmer 

The CWSP has provided opportunities for me to share my experiences and feelings related to my social work field placement, and to emphasize the importance of self-care in order to maintain resiliency and professionalism as a social worker.”

Learn more about Claire.

Applications closed for 2024-2025 cohort

Applications for the 2025-2026 cohort will open in October 2024.