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University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work Students

2019 Policy Team

Elizabeth Churaman
Policy Analyst
Elizabeth Churaman is a first-year Macro concentration student at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, specializing in Political Social Work. Elizabeth's diverse background and work with children on the spectrum led her to a commitment to organizing with, and bridging divides between, vulnerable communities to facilitate large scale change. She is participating in the Austin Legislative Internship Program to learn in depth about the policy process in order to become a more effective advocate for those within vulnerable communities for the special needs population.
Santiago Cirnigliaro
Policy Analyst
Santiago Cirnigliaro is a first-year Macro concentration student specializing in Political Social Work at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Santiago's background in child welfare has led him to build a commitment to the children and families involved in foster care. He is participating in the Austin Legislative Internship Program in order to gain an in-depth understanding about the policy process in order to become a better advocate towards Texas families.
Donisha Shepherd-Cotlone
Policy Analyst
Donisha Shepherd-Cotlone is a first-year Advanced Standing Macro concentration student. During her time at the Graduate College of Social Work, she has been very active with voter engagement. After getting deputized to register voters in Harris County during the GCSW’s Foundations of Social Work course, she was deputized in four other counties surrounding the Houston area (Fort Bend, Brazoria, Galveston, and Wharton). Donisha’s interests include voting laws, racial disproportionality within the criminal justice and child welfare systems, healthcare, and women’s rights. Donisha will participate in the Austin Legislative Internship Program to gain insight into the legislative process. She seeks to eventually advocate for taking the focus away from political parties and place it back on serving the people. She is striving for unity within our political system to provide social, racial, and economic justice to protect and serve the people of Texas.
Sophia Creede
Policy Analyst
Sophia Creede is a first-year student at the Graduate College of Social Work with a Clinical concentration. With a background in psychology, Sophia has grown into a committed advocate for people dealing with mental health related issues. Sophia has experience volunteering with the Red Cross, Crisis Text Line, and hospice patients, and she just completed a semester interning at Houston Behavioral Healthcare Hospital with patients on the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. She has been exposed to various suffering populations and is eager to learn more. Sophia is ecstatic about the opportunity to intern at the 2018 Texas Legislature so she can learn how to navigate policy. She predicts this experience will strengthen her voice to advocate for social change.
Eliot Davis
Policy Analyst
Eliot Davis is a second-year student pursuing a Macro concentration at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work. After receiving his bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin in clinical psychology and a decade of experience in the service sector, his focus gravitated from the individual to the collective experience, particularly towards those historically and systematically marginalized. With growing appreciation for the importance and power of policy, he hopes to leverage his imminent experience to help understand and successfully navigate the entire scope of policy implementation in his home state of Texas. Combined with his compassion for people and passion for problem solving, he hopes to apply his legislative knowledge towards social progress for all.
Marissa Gorena
Policy Analyst
Marissa Gorena is a first-year Macro concentration student specializing in Political Social Work at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She earned her B.S. in Biotechnology and a minor in Health Communications at UH in 2018. Marissa was part of the Spring 2017 Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) cohort during her undergraduate career, and this experience influenced her decision to pursue the GCSW Austin internship. During her time in the Austin Legislative Internship Program, she hopes to gain a better understanding of the Texas Legislature and learn how to be an effective advocate for vulnerable communities.
Sharon Jacob
Policy Analyst
Sharon Jacob is a first-year Clinical concentration student at the Graduate College of Social Work pursuing a dual degree with a Master of Public Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health. Her time as an Archer Graduate Fellow in Public Policy encouraged her interest in addressing social justice issues through political pathways. A native Chicagoan, Sharon is proud to have adopted Houston as her home away from home. She hopes that an understanding of the Texas legislative process will help her increase support for the mental health and welfare of children and other vulnerable populations in the Houston community.
Merci Mohagheghi
Policy Analyst
Merci Mohagheghi is a second-year Macro concentration student at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work. Merci is committed to learning about systemic and structural issues, specifically as they relate to economic justice and human rights among marginalized populations. She believes her work as a policy analyst during the 2019 Texas legislative session will not only further her knowledge of how laws are created and passed within the state, but also help her become a better citizen and community advocate. She is looking forward to learning legislative strategies, as well as working across the aisle to accomplish common goals.
Ali Schoon
Policy Analyst
Ali Schoon is a first-year Macro concentration student at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work. Over the last five years, she gained knowledge and experience working in the foster care system serving children and their families. Ali is looking forward to learning more about the intricacies of policymaking and how the legislative process functions. She is hopeful that through this Austin internship, she will have a greater impact in her future macro practice.
Brittany Sharp
Policy Analyst
Brittany Sharp is a second-year Macro concentration student at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Originally from San Antonio, Brittany received a BA in Medical Humanities from Baylor University. During her undergraduate education she developed an interest in youth empowerment through education. She has since worked at City Year San Antonio and Martinez Street Women’s Center in hopes of achieving this on the East Side of San Antonio. While participating in the Austin Legislative Internship Program, she hopes to learn about the policy process to become an effective advocate for youth in working-class communities.