Introducing the SSWR Doctoral Student Members: Mentoring Committee!

Hello from the Mentoring Committee of the SSWR Doctoral Task Force. Our team includes five doctoral students from across the country. Last year we launched the Coffee with a Scholar Program, a mentor matching program that matches doctoral students and faculty members for one-hour coffee meetings at SSWR’s annual conference. We matched 40 mentors and students this past year and will be hosting the program again this year. When you register for SSWR, indicate your interest in this program so you can meet a mentor with expertise in your content area or in a research method of interest. We hope to match up to 75 students this year! We look forward to providing mentoring information and opportunity to doctoral student members of SSWR. 


Kess Ballentine, Doctoral Student, University of Pittsburgh 
I'm Kess Ballentine, a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh. I study the effect of work on family life and parenting. Currently I am examining the potential relationships between low-wage work environments and poor child well-being and how these relationships may differ by race and culture viewpoints on parenthood. I am serving as the Chair of the Mentoring Subcommittee and feel strongly that effective mentoring can improve individual academic careers and promote more women and people of color in academia and social work leadership. Keep a look out here for materials to help you improve your relationships with your mentors! Also, sign up for Coffee with a Scholar when you register for SSWR to start building relationships outside your school!  

Abha Rai, PhD Candidate, University of Georgia
My name is Abha Rai and I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Georgia, Athens. I am currently in my third year of my doctoral journey as well as in the SSWR Doctoral Student Taskforce. My area of research interest pertains to issues of domestic violence among the South Asian immigrant community residing in the United States. I am currently serving as the communications lead of the Mentoring Committee. I am really excited about our plans for the committee this year and also about the resources that we hope to create for doctoral students. Our flagship program-Coffee with a Scholar will be rolled out again at SSWR this year. Be sure to keep an eye out while registering for SSWR and allow yourself an opportunity to engage with an academic mentor. 

Thomas Bane, Doctoral Student, CUNY Graduate Center 
I'm Thomas Bane, a doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center. My area of focus is the intersection of health systems transformation and health equity. This is my second year on the Task force. I hope to see more opportunities created for PhD students to meet and interact with leading SW scholars in their field of interest. Coffee with a Scholar is a unique opportunity for both faculty and PhD Students to interact, so I hope you will take advantage of it! Sign up when you register for SSWR!

Stephenie Howard, Doctoral Student, Howard University 
Hi, my name is Stephenie Howard. I am a doctoral student at Howard University with the School of Social Work. I have been a member of the SSWR Doctoral Student Taskforce for three years. My area of research is trauma, and my dissertation explores the impact of vicarious trauma on children. I hope that this information will enhance the ability of social workers to respond to and protect vulnerable populations. As one of the founding members of the mentorship subcommittee, I am excited that we have been able to create new opportunities for doctoral students to receive assistance and support from scholars outside of their university. I look forward to continuing these efforts, and I hope that you will join us next year for Coffee with a Scholarly at SSWR’s Annual Conference.

Grace Gowdy, Doctoral Candidate, Boston University 
Hi all! I am a doctoral candidate in Boston University’s School of Social Work. My research interests include community and family influence on individual upward mobility, with a focus on the adolescent stage. My dissertation is on informal mentors and their ability to promote economic upward mobility for low-income youth. I have been a part of this mentoring group for a few years and am excited for watch the Coffee with a Scholar program grow. I hope you take part this year and have a great time connecting!