Alumni Spotlights and Testimonials
Dr. Jon Sperry
I am Dr. Jon Sperry and I graduated from Barry University in 2007 with my MSW. My experience at the Barry University School of Social Work was an excellent starting point to my career. I made a number of positive connections with other students and faculty, which made my classroom learning experiences that much more enjoyable. I really believe that Barry taught me about the integral principles that all social workers should subscribe to. I am very grateful for all of my experiences at Barry University School of Social Work!
I went on to complete my Ph.D. and Ed.S. in Counseling from Florida Atlantic University. I am currently licensed in the state of Florida as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I am qualified to supervise social work interns. In addition, I hold a certificate in Adlerian Psychotherapy. I am currently a staff therapist at the Counseling and Psychological Services Center at Florida Atlantic University. I am also an adjunct instructor at Florida Atlantic University and Lynn University. I co-authored book chapters on psychotherapy, psychological and spiritual well-being, and intimacy and infidelity. Most recently, I co-authored a book on case conceptualization that was released on July 1st, 2012 by Routledge: Sperry, L., & Sperry, J. (2012). Case conceptualization: Mastering this competency with ease and confidence. New York: Routledge.
Below you will find a link to my book:
Damond L. Smith
I attended several classes at Barry University – School of Social Work during 2000-2002. As I have been reflecting on my life over the past few weeks, I wanted to take a moment and say thank you! It is my belief that life is not necessarily about quantum leaps but rather the simple ideas and/or levels of encouragement that can create change. Certainly, Barry will not change every student that crosses the school’s path but my life changed while attending Barry and I am extremely appreciative.
After being a social work practitioner for a number of years, I now live in the Washington, DC area and I am an Auditor with the US Department of Labor. I am blessed and highly favored but I recognize that if it were not for Barry, my life may not have taken shape as I know it.
Keep up the good work and thank you again!
I did my field placement at the Miami Department of Veterans Affairs, at the Healthcare for Homeless Veterans clinic on Flagler Road. My internship consisted of doing outreach to homeless veterans, and working at the walk-in clinic for homeless veterans. I was the intern to Outreach SW Ariel Corniel, LCSW, who is also a Barry alumni.
After graduating from Barry in May of 2010, I was hired as a case manager at a homeless shelter in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and worked there until December of 2011. I learned a lot about the day to day grind of working with the homeless population during this time, and I feel it was a very formative time in my life. I worked with severely mentally ill clients, clients with substance abuse problems, and clients who had been in and out of prison for many years. I was able to help many of them find housing successfully, and many also disappeared back to the streets, even after doing quite a bit of work with them. I feel that I learned a lot about being a professional; showing up on time every day, meeting with my clients, developing treatment plans, and documenting the work.
I was recently hired by the Miami VAMC as a Social Worker, and was hired into the Healthcare for Homeless Veterans program. I was hired as the Outreach Social Worker to replace Mr. Corniel, who moved on to another position within the VA. I started work at the VA on Jan 3, 2012. I was told by my supervisor Cheryl Smart, who was the same supervisor I had during my internship, that there were over 250 qualified applicants that applied for this position. Many of these applicants were internal candidates from the VA, and many already had extensive careers in the Social Work field. Due to budget constraints, the Miami VAMC has not been able to hire for many new positions, so I feel lucky to have been hired for this position. And I love the job!
My internship at the VA while at school at Barry gave me an inside track for this position. My supervisor Cheryl Smart felt that I understood the job, already knew many of the veterans, and had already worked with the staff. She said she felt it would be a smooth transition to bring me on board, as I understood the position already. Ms. Smart also told me the hiring team made the decision to go with “heart over head”, meaning that there were many more qualified candidates, but that you cannot teach heart.
I just wanted to say thank you for placing me at the VA for my field education. This opened an opportunity for (hopefully) a long and fulfilling career at the VA, working with homeless veterans!
Darryl L. Gentry, LCSW
Class of 72
Darryl L. Gentry graduated from the School of Social Work in the Spring of 1972. Upon graduation, he spent thirty one years working in Mental Health Clinics, Family and Child Guidance Clinics and Hospital Psychiatric Clinics. He was a LCSW at the time of retirement. In 1980, He was awarded the honor of “Approved Supervisor designation with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy”. From 1978 until 1989, He was an Adjunct Instructor and Field Instructor with the University of North Carolina School of Social Work. From 1990 to 1993, He was a Visiting Instructor with the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry. From 1996 until 1998, He provided workshops to License Clinicians on the art of Psychotherapy at Daytona State College. He enjoyed writing and published several papers during his professional career that included: “The Treatment of Migraine Headaches”: A Case Study, in The Journal of Psychotherapy, Theory, Research and Practice, 1973; “The Treatment of Premature Ejaculation Through Brief Therapy”, in The Journal of Psychotherapy, Theory, Research and Practice, 1978.; “The Treatment of Migraine Headaches With Directive Therapy”, in C.E. Schaefer, H.L. Mitlman & G. F. Levine (Eds.) “Therapies for Psychosomatic Disorders in Children”, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 1977; Brief Therapy: Chapter 8, in Raymond Corsini’s (Ed) Handbook of Innovative Psychotherapies, in Wiley, 1980; and “Introduction to Brief Strategic Therapy Supervision”, in The Clinical Supervisor, 1986. He is now in Retirement and living in Prescott, Arizona. firstname.lastname@example.org
Mauren Zamora, MSW
I graduated from Barry in the year 2006. Since then, I have been working with Miami Dade County Public School System. Going through the Graduate School process was painful. I was working full-time, married with two small children. I had the best support as my mother would care for my children and my husband would pick up after me (laundry, cooking, cleaning…) I also had the best educational support: I had advisors and professors who were always there ready to listen and provide encouragement.
My advisor Dr. Scott had an impact on my career and I consider her a source of inspiration. Dr. Scott would say: “You make your degree, it does not make you.” “Your possibilities are endless; it depends on how far you want to take it; we are the ones the put limits on ourselves.” “Trust the process, it works.” Those words I always kept close to my heart and when I would go through difficult situations I would always repeat them and they kept me going.
I would like to share with you how obtaining an MSW has provided learning opportunities and opened doors. I am currently an Emotional Behavioral Disabilities (E/BD) Clinician with Miami Dade County Public Schools. When I finished my course work in December 2006, that same month I began working as a School Social Worker. It was a challenge as I was just placed in the job with no orientation or training. My second year, I had everything all figured out. They thought I was an expert and soon I became the resource person among colleagues and I was even nominated for the Social Worker of the Year Award.
Wanting to gain additional experience, I became a Medical Social Worker and worked Per-Diem at South Miami Hospital. I joined the faculty at Miami Dade College and became part of the Kids in Divorce Succeed Program. This program is court mandated for divorcing parents who have children ages 6-17. I also worked in several Community Mental Health Centers in Miami Dade County providing individual/group therapy and I provided individual/group therapy to court mandated children involved in dependency court proceedings. I have also facilitated group therapy for court mandated clients at an Outpatient Substance Abuse Program.
I identify myself as a child and family advocate. I have been a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer for nine years. I have been invited to speak in several radio shows, television shows and I have also presented at local and national conferences to include the NASW conference in 2008, on sexual abuse, suicide prevention, dependency court proceedings, bullying, sexting and substance abuse in adolescence.
I am currently co-hosting a radio show on a Spanish radio called: “Gente Clave” which translates to the English language as Key/Essential People. This project was created out of the desire of providing resources and services to our community. Every week we interview Key/Essential people from our community. Listeners are given an opportunity call and receive valuable resources live. Each segment is designed to present a problem, provide a solution and offer resources. The goal is for listeners to take something which they can implement and become self-agents of change.
I am proud to say that I have been identified as the first Hispanic Female Social Worker in the Christian radio in Miami-Dade and I want to thank Barry University for helping me discover my potential. I also want to thank other Barry Graduates as every time a door opened, there was a Barry graduate behind it.
Ms. Nicole Marcellus graduated from the School of Social Work in the fall of 2008.
Upon graduation she relocated to Atlanta, GA. Ms. Marcellus has been appointed to the position of Social Service Protect and Placement Specialist Supervisor in the Child Protective Services/Investigation Section with the Georgia Department of Human Services.
The School extends congratulations to Ms. Marcellus on this significant achievement and wishes her success in her new position.
Alicia Kula is a recent graduate of Barry University’s School of Social Work, Graduate Program, Palm Beach Gardens Campus. In 2002 Alicia began employment with Palm Beach County Fire Rescue as a community educator, facilitating partnerships with local schools for the purpose of expanding the schools’ safety curriculum to include Risk Watch©. Concurrent with Risk Watch© coordination she developed curriculum, taught, and assessed participants in the Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program as well as co-produced several educational videos called Crossing the Line.
Recognizing the use of psychoeducational programming in a non-social work environment, Alicia joined a committee to assist in the development of a volunteer based social service program for Fire Rescue called Community Assistant Team (CAT); wherein volunteers assist the community at large during times of crisis through validation, normalization, and resourcing. Given the diversity of populations serviced by Fire Rescue, obtaining an MSW was invaluable for Ms. Kula; not only to support and strengthen the program, but to lend credibility to the program’s mission.
The theoretical framework from the classes coupled with the real world experiences provided during field lent insight for stratification of services including crisis intervention, bereavement support and service resourcing. Tooled with a Barry education and the desire to step outside of the traditional social work arena, Alicia developed the Crisis Mitigation Program (CMP), an idea originally conceived as a classroom project during a policy class. The program is designed to provide mental, emotional and spiritual assistance to the members of fire rescue and law enforcement during a time of crisis. Alicia is serving as the Coordinator of the program, which includes a myriad of response teams for specific populations that are impacted during an emergency.
Prior to working for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, Alicia Kula, had already earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education and a Master of Science Degree in Reading from Barry University. Alicia worked for the Palm Beach County School District as a Behavioral Interventionist and Reading Teacher. Ms. Kula has also worked in private industry as a paramedic of which she is still current along with be a current certified Fire Inspector. For now, Alicia is a registered clinical social work intern seeking clinical licensure status, so that she may further the C.A.T. and C.M.P. program development. She intends on pursuing her doctorate in the future. She is also a member of the NASW, PBC Child Care Advisory Committee, and Florida State Fire Marshall Association.
Student Testimonials and Spotlights
Vanessa Miller, MSW
I have been working as a counselor at the Mid Florida Center of Mental Health and Substance Abuse outpatient center for about 5 months. I conduct assessments, comprehensive evaluations (which include IQ testing), individual therapy, groups (anger management and substance abuse thus far), and more. Thanks to Barry's school of social work for all I learned!!! Personally, I was a single parent for about 5 years and it was difficult to maintain my duties as a mother while attending school for my Master's degree, as I was there without family or anyone to help. However, I was fortunate to look to my new friends/peers and teachers to support me and help me (as a single mom) and keep pushing to achieve my goals in the Advanced Standing Program. I met an awesome Polk County teacher while in grad school and we are getting married on VALENTINE'S DAY!!!!
Valerie Shorter, MSW graduate
"I am originally from Pennsylvania. I obtained my Bachelor's Degree from Lincoln University, PA in 1998. I plan to work in the field of juvenile delinquency and community action. The professors at Barry University School of Social Work are supportive, influential and challenging."
Urvashi Mehta, MSW graduate
"Moved from Virginia to attend the MSW Program. "The Program is a writing intensive program. Professors are knowledgeable, well-published, and well-known in the field of social work, but hired for their teaching abilities. I was able to attend via scholarships."
Amber Reinhart, MSW graduate
"I loved my program! Professors are very supportive, encouraging, and knowledgeable."
Michelle Bartley, MSW graduate
I enjoyed most of my classes. I wish I learned more on working with adolescents. Faculty are a well put together team who care about students. Field placement was excellent! The admissions and financial aid was an easy process. I have no regrets.
Christine Bernard, MSW graduate
I moved from Bronx, New York to attend Barry's School of Social Work. The curriculum was well planned and taught. The campus life is diverse and friendly. Faculty are supportive and intelligent. My field placement was exciting and a good learning experience.