Meet Our Students Cohort 2023 - University of Houston
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Meet Our Students Cohort 2023

Cohort 2023 

Maristel Aguilar 2023
Maristel Aguilar is a second year Macro concentration MSW/MBA dual degree student at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and the C.T. Bauer College of Business. After graduating from Sam Houston State University with a B.A. in Communications, Maristel built a business as a wedding and event planner and used her off seasons to travel to over 20 different countries where she worked with non-profits specializing in orphan care. Through her travels she developed an interest in learning about the policies that impact these children’s lives which led her to continue her education. Maristel hopes the experience in the Austin Legislative Internship Program will give her insight into the political system and how it affects families and children that end up in foster care. Her goal is to one day advocate and strategize for orphan and foster care at an international level.
La'Dereka Christian is a first-year Macro concentration student at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. La’Dereka earned her B.S. in Finance from Louisiana Tech University in May of 2022. La’Dereka is passionate about helping others, and throughout her leadership roles in undergrad, gained skills to be able to advocate for the needs of underrepresented communities. Through the Austin Legislative Internship Program, she hopes to continue developing those skills along with learning how to effectively analyze policy. In La’Dereka’s free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking, and traveling.


Brian Dusablon is a first-year graduate student at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Brian’s path to social work began with his philanthropic work spanning human rights, environmental justice, public health, criminal justice reform, LGBTQ advocacy, and mental health. Through interning with the Texas Legislative Study Group, Brian hopes to gain a better understanding of the legislative process and the impact of policy on advocacy efforts in order to provide more effective support and servant leadership in vulnerable communities.


LaTicia Jeffers is a first year student at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication. Prior to relocating to Texas, LaTicia worked in rural community behavior health, proving nature based and equine assisted services in her home town in Southeastern Ohio. During her time as a service provider and communication director for the same agency, she collaborated in creative ways for the community and clientele. However, she realized the many barriers politics and policy often played in coordinating services for continuity of care for clientele and in cross-agency collaboration on community services and programming. This is what led her to returning to pursue her MSW and this internship opportunity. During this internship, LaTicia deeply looks forward to networking, learning, and gaining a better understanding of our political system and the policy process, to ultimately become a better advocate for her community and the individuals she serves.

Savannah Lee 2023

Savannah Lee is a second-year Macro concentration student at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Savannah graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Musical Theater, a journey that led her to service through the arts at a non-profit called Artists Striving To End Poverty. From there, her passion for activism and politics evolved into an interest in substance use policy, the effects of incarceration on marginalized individuals, and the effects of policy on the unhoused and those experiencing poverty. She is elated to have the opportunity to learn about the legislative process and hopes to learn more about political advocacy and the effect of policy on our communities.

Stefanie Page 2023

Stefanie Page is a first-year Macro concentration student at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, focusing on Political Social Work and the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. Growing up internationally, Stefanie was exposed to marginalized populations at a young age, inspiring her passion to help those in need. During her undergrad, Stefanie interned at a behavioral health facility, witnessing how injustices individuals face are often a direct result of systems holding them back. She found herself curious in understanding the ways in which systemic suppression impacts individuals and what can be done to create sustainable change. This passion in dissecting systems that directly impact individuals amplified after working for a group home in Texas, solidifying her desire to advocate for women, children, and family through a trauma-informed lens. From this experience, she found the GCSW to be the avenue best suited in the directions her passions were leading, specifically through the opportunity to participate in the Austin Legislative Internship Program. She hopes to gain more experience and knowledge in the legislative process, how policy is developed to impact vulnerable populations, and where her desire to work at the macro-level to equip others with sustainable change fits into her career aspirations.


Carl Schwartz is an Advanced Standing Macro concentration student at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Before pursuing his Bachelor of Social Work degree from Warren Wilson College, he completed two AmeriCorps contracts, one with a drug rehabilitation and sheltering mission in Virginia and another with the national education non-profit City Year in the South Bronx. Carl concurrently served as a Boatswain’s Mate in the Coast Guard Reserve. During his undergraduate studies, he was the outreach coordinator for group homes of aging adults with IDD diagnoses. He was also a board member for the local food pantry. He leveraged these two roles during his BSW practicum for improving the visibility and inclusivity of group home persons served, shoring vital resources and relationships, and founding a community garden. After case management for housing-insecure families and developing a trauma education and response program, he learned he most enjoys engaging in advocacy efforts toward systemic change and in organizing community-driven solutions. Carl is grateful for the unique Austin Legislative Internship experience and looks forward to gaining knowledge and confidence in policy practice in social work. 


Drew Tonjes is a first-year Macro concentration student, pursuing dual master’s degrees in Social Work and Public Policy at the University of Houston. During her first semester, she interned with the Houston Policy Practice Placement Initiative (HPPPI) under the supervision of Dr. Pritzker. Through this internship, Drew coordinated and participated in civic engagement opportunities and learned about community-based participatory research. She is the founder and co-chair of the University of Houston’s Payment for Placement (P4P) chapter. Drew is also a CONNECT Fellow through the Hobby School of Public Affairs. She is excited to learn about the legislative process and advocacy during the Austin Legislative Internship Program.


Jade Tucker is a second-year Clinical concentration student at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin during the pandemic, she decided to venture out and pursue a role in education through her AmeriCorps program in Baltimore. Through her personal experience growing up with her mother as an educator and a counselor and her father’s persistence in being at the forefront both in his military and police career, she knew that social work provided an avenue to help children and families affected by intersectional identities. Jade has experience in advocating for young women interested in politics and being a voice for her students in the classroom of a public charter school. Her passion remains in empowering children and adolescents through therapy using trauma-informed care and providing an atmosphere for military families. She hopes to gain insight into how policies and laws affect her future clients and to bring her experiences to better analyze the effects of a policy and/or amendment on vulnerable communities.


Nzingha Williams-Eugene is a second-year Macro concentration student at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. While attending the GCSW, she has been an intern at the Northern District Federal Public Defender Office - Capital Habeas Unit and volunteered as a Child Advocate at Dallas CASA. Nzingha is interested in civic engagement, child welfare reform, mental health, and voting rights. Nzingha’s diverse background and employment history working with various vulnerable populations has led her to pursue a career in advocacy and social justice. Prior to beginning her journey at the GCSW, Nzingha worked as a case manager in Southeast Texas supporting recovery efforts of those most impacted by Hurricane Harvey. This experience motivated her to hasten her return to school in order to identify ways to better assist vulnerable populations. Through the Austin Legislative Internship Program, she hopes to gain knowledge about the process of policy-making and implementation.