Peer Mentor Program

B.S.W. and M.S.W. students have access to specially trained peer mentors who, as veterans of the program, can provide guidance and answer questions in ways that only students can. Peer mentors are upper-level social work students with firsthand experience and knowledge of navigating our program, school and community. They receive ongoing consultation, supervision and leadership-development training through the Office of Student Success.

Any prospective, incoming or current social work student can be paired with a peer mentor. To be connected with a peer mentor, complete the Peer Mentor Interest Questionnaire, and within two to three days you’ll be introduced to your mentor via email.

For more information, contact:
Office of Student Success
Phone: (804) 828-1030
Email: sswinfo@vcu.edu

2014-15 B.S.W. peer mentors

Marina Green

Year: Senior

Hometown: Fredericksburg, Virginia

Social work interests: Child welfare, victim advocacy and social work research

Internships held: Caroline County Social Services Department and Victim/Witness Assistance Program in Spotsylvania, Virginia

Favorite things to do: Watching TV, going out to eat, reading and baking

Every day in the social work program I am reassured that I chose the right school and the right profession. Interacting with my peers, professors and colleagues in the field give me the confidence that I will make a difference in someone's life!

Jillian Olson

Year: Senior

Hometown: Friendswood, Texas

Social work interests: Corrections

Internships held: Chesterfield County Sheriffs Office, Project Youth Extension Service and American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia

Volunteer or paid work experience: The Podium Foundation, Creativity Club and United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg

Favorite things to do: Solo traveling, gardening, going to shows and riding my bike

I was given a passion for social work and I was blessed with the opportunity to be a part of VCU School of Social Work. I have grown more than I ever could have imagined. I will be graduating as a confident and competent social worker, ready to change the world!

Katrena L. Ready

Year: Senior

Hometown: Chesterfield, Virginia

Social work interests: Gerontology

Internships held: Beth Sholom, South Richmond Adult Daycare Center and The Laurels of Willow Creek

Volunteer or paid work experience: Richmond Juvenile Detention Center

Favorite things to do: Hanging out with Sista friends and grandson and working out

The VCU School of Social Work has given me understanding and guidance to the elements of social injustices.  With the tools I have received and developed over three years at this program, I am destined to make a difference in the lives of the disadvantaged.

Jessica White

Year: Senior

Hometown: Lancaster, Virginia

Social work interests: Refugees and homelessness

Internships held: International Rescue Committee and Virginia Supportive Housing

Volunteer or paid work experience: Cultural Ambassadors, International Rescue Committee, CARITAS and Virginia Supportive Housing

Favorite things to do: Visiting with my family, exploring Richmond with friends, taking my dogs on walks along the river, watching movies and shows and spending time in nature

Being surrounded by so much diversity and support here at VCU has allowed me to grow and do things I never thought were possible!

Bryttany Wright

Year: Senior

Hometown: Farmville, Virginia

Social work interests: Health, domestic violence, mental health and child welfare

Internships held: Outreach Involvement Center, Girls For A Change and Good Neighbor Community Services

Favorite things to do: Watching movies, hanging out with friends, shopping and road trips

VCU is the place I met my best friend and gained a greater love for social work and basketball!

2014-15 M.S.W. Peer Mentors

Emily Hall

Concentration: Clinical

Hometown: Reston, Virginia

Social work interests: Adults with childhood trauma, military service members and veterans and mental health policy

Internships held: The Center for Post-Traumatic and Dissociative Disorders Program at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, Mill House and Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center

Volunteer or paid work experience: Laurel Learning Center, Cornerstones and Head Start

Favorite things to do: Walking at Belle Isle and Brown's Island, working out at the Cary Street Gym, attending concerts and shows at The National and The Broadberry and enjoying all of the great Richmond food

This program provided me with confidence and taught me that I have the skills, knowledge and capabilities to be an effective clinician. More importantly, it also taught me to never forget that policy always influences practice, no matter where your heart lies in the social work field!

Casey Jensen

Concentration: Clinical

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia

Social work interests: Health care and cancer

Internships held: SCAN Child Advocacy Center and VCU Health Virginia Coordinated Care Program

Volunteer or paid work experience: Richmond Academy of Medicine, Inc., UVA Cancer Center and Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services

Favorite things to do: Spending time with my daughter and husband, hanging out with friends, watching movies, cooking and walking

Going back to school isn't easy, but it is worth it! The VCU community is very supportive and I have made amazing friends in the program. I have also learned so much about the social work field and clinical practice.

Ellen Labgold

Concentration: Clinical

Hometown: Leesburg, Virginia

Social work interests: Older adults and health care

Internships held: Loudoun County Area Agency on Aging

Favorite things to do: Spending time with my four daughters, playing piano and golf

Woody Allen once said, "80 percent of success is just showing up." I remind myself of this every time I'm anxious or afraid about something that I have to do and it really helps me to get through it. As a Peer Mentor, I also recommend this philosophy to my mentees. Whether it's attending classes or beginning that tough assignment, once you "show up" the rest usually falls into place...

Erica Lurry

Concentration: Clinical

Hometown: Williamsburg, Virginia

Social work interests: Child welfare, children, adolescent, families, mental health and trauma

Internships held: Community Brain Injury Services and United Methodist Family Services

Volunteer or paid work experience: VCU Child Development Center, Circle Center Adult Day Services, Dominion Waiver Services, Raise 5 Research Lab, Best In Class and Social and Affective Neuroscience Lab

Favorite things to do: Vacationing and road trips

VCU School of Social Work has provided me with opportunities for personal growth, leadership development and broaden my perspective of social injustices around the world.

Angela Nemecek

Concentration: Clinical

Hometown: Charlottesville, Virginia

Social work interests: Families, trauma and private practice

Internships held: Sexual Assault Resource Agency

Favorite things to do: Yoga, reading, aromatherapy, music and friends

I enjoy collaborating with students to help support them in having a great experience in the M.S.W. Program. I am particularly interested in supporting distance education students.

Winona Pearson

Concentration: Clinical

Hometown: Wicomico, Virginia

Social work interests: Military families, veterans, domestic violence and substance abuse

Internships held: Laurel Shelter, Inc. and Middlesex County Victims Assistance Unit

Volunteer or paid work experience: Laurel Shelter, Inc.

Favorite things to do: Spending time with family and friends, traveling and gardening

I am so grateful for the opportunity VCU has given me to learn how I can be an effective agent of change; specifically, as it relates to current trends and social issues in the field of social work.

Helen Rai

Concentration: Social Work Administration, Planning and Policy Practice

Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal

Social work interests: Poverty, community engagement, organizing and development, racial and social justice and international social work

Internships held: ReEstablish Richmond and Circles Ashland

Volunteer or paid work experience: Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens and Baptist Global Response

Favorite things to do: Binge watching tv shows, cooking, music and spending time with family and friends

The social work program has opened my eyes to the many issues and barriers in our society, but also equipped me with skills and tools needed to address them. Most of all, I have learned from my faculty and peers about the power of collaboration when trying to make changes. 

Sara Tolentino

Concentration: Clinical

Hometown: Binghamton, New York

Social work interests: Criminal justice, trauma, domestic violence and mental illness

Internships held: Young Women's Christian Association and Henrico County Mental Health & Development Services

Volunteer or paid work experience: Community Services Board

Favorite things to do: Spending time with my two boys, cooking and baking

I am so thankful to be a student in the MSW DE program. The flexibility of this rigorous and challenging program has allowed me to retain full-time employment while earning my degree. I will be forever grateful to VCU for recognizing and responding to the needs of their students while remaining committed to academic excellence.

Audrey Wright

Concentration: Clinical

Hometown: Newington, Connecticut

Social work interests: Military social work and medical social work

Internships held: Greater Richmond SCAN and Ascend Hospice

Favorite things to do: Dancing, hanging with friends and watching movies

Throughout my time at VCU I have personally been able to gain confidence in myself and my abilities related to my career as a Social Worker. I have been challenged in a way that has prepared me for what lies ahead and has enhanced my appreciation for the various roles that social workers undertake!

Jackie Washington

Concentration: Social Work Administration, Planning and Policy Practice

Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Social work interests: Community engagement, organizing and trauma-informed community development

Internships held: Peter Paul Development Center, Department of Social Services Family Preservation and Storefront for Community Design

Volunteer or paid work experience: Neighborhood Resource Center, United Methodist Family Services and Higher Achievement

Favorite things to do: Hanging out with friends, watching old sitcoms and movies, dancing and web surfing

The graduate social work program helped challenge my thinking, advanced my writing skills and prepared me to respond in innovative ways to social issues in my community.