Alumni Spotlight

Anthony Torres MSW 16'

Anthony Torres MSW 16'

Anthony Torres served on active duty in the U.S. Army from 2002-2006, which included a yearlong deployment to Abu Ghraib Prison, Iraq, where he provided mental health treatment to U.S. troops and Iraqi detainees. Following an honorable discharge he relocated to Miami, Florida to continue his education. He earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from Barry University in 2016. Anthony is the executive director of The Combat Hippies, a collective of combat veteran performing artists who use spoken word poetry to raise awareness of veteran’s issues and promote Post-Traumatic Growth. Barry University’s School of Social Work hosted the Combat Hippies for a Veteran’s Day performance in 2015. He was also a 2016 finalist for Barry University’s community impact award for students.

When did your desire to become a Social Worker start?

Growing up I was labeled an “at-risk” youth due to several factors including a single-parent home, low socioeconomic status, and being Latino. I witnessed my mother work for several social service organizations over the years, providing services to AIDS patients, teen mothers, and people recovering from addictions. Before I knew it, I found myself working as a peer mentor for teens in a community action agency in upstate New York. As an adult, I worked in mental health for both the U.S. Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs for several years, but I felt something was missing. I realized that I had been involved in advocacy, community engagement, and volunteer work for most of my life, and I missed it.

What made you choose Barry University to complete your graduate studies?

As I researched social work programs in South Florida, Barry University easily topped my list. I appreciated the trauma-informed curriculum, the small class sizes, and the streamlined application process. Most of all, I felt supported and welcomed as a military veteran. I made my decision to attend Barry immediately after an information session with admissions director, Philip Giarraffa. It was clear to me that this program was a perfect fit for my experience, knowledge, and interests.

Have you had any meaningful internship experiences?

The most impactful internship experience was with Sunrise Community, Inc. where I provided individual and group therapy to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I had experienced compassion fatigue in my previous employment, and interning with Sunrise reinvigorated my commitment to continuing this work. I was well-trained by my supervisor (and Barry alum) Linda Angress, MSW, in medical conditions facing the clients such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida. I gained a renewed sense of empathy from this training experience, and it was truly a life-changing opportunity.

Is there anyone who inspired you or helped you along your journey?

I was fortunate to have Dr. Heidi Heft LaPorte as my professor twice while in the program. I left every class (and discussion) with Professor LaPorte feeling inspired and motivated. Her knowledge and experience in the social work field speaks for itself. What was most impactful to me was her emphasis on self-care and compassion. Her dedication to students and clients reminded me that working in this field is a privilege, honor, and responsibility.

What are your plans for your future career?

Since graduating from Barry University, the Combat Hippies have performed at the historic Seminole Theatre in Homestead, the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military - National Summit in Tampa, and at Miami Dade College’s AshokaU Exchange. The Hippies were also awarded a 2016 Knight Arts Challenge Grant to encourage public conversations about the trauma of war by touring a new spoken-word performance based on the stories of local veterans and refugees from the Middle East. I recently wrote a blog post for HowlRound, a theater and arts organization, in which I shared how the Combat Hippies formed as a group: http://howlround.com/peace-love-and-post-traumatic-growth-with-the-combat-hippies.

I am excited for the next chapter of my professional career and I’m proud to say that I am a graduate of Barry University’s School of Social Work.


Elizabeth Ringler - Jayanthan MSW 16’

Elizabeth Ringler-Jayanthan MSW ‘16

Elizabeth Ringler-Jayanthan completed her MSW at Barry in December 2016. During her time at Barry she served as a Graduate Assistant for Professor Sambra Zaoui, with whom she conducted research on human trafficking. She presented with Professor Zaoui on human trafficking related topics at the Council on Social Work Education Conference, as well as at the Barry University Mini-Conference. Additionally, she participated as a panelist for the Deliberative Dialogue series on unaccompanied minors and presented on refugee resettlement in the United States for a Professional Development event. Prior to attending Barry, Elizabeth earned a Master’s in Public in International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh, with a specialization in Human Security. She currently serves as the Project Coordinator for the National Partnership for Community Training working on refugee mental health. Elizabeth will be presenting at the NASW Florida Conference in June 2017. Her presentation is entitled Trauma-Informed Care Approaches for Survivors of Forced Migration.

When did your desire to become a Social Worker start?

During college, I developed an interest in human rights issues and was active in the Amnesty International group. This lead to my participating in the World Teach program in China, as well as serving in the United States Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan. Afterward, I worked in refugee resettlement for several years and felt that I could do more to help refugees if I developed a clinical background. I was inspired by the resiliency and strength of the refugees I worked with, what they had experienced, and their continued sense of hope and gratefulness.

What made you choose Barry University to complete your graduate studies?

I chose Barry because of the trauma-informed curriculum. The populations that I was interested in working with had experienced significant trauma, so I felt that this was a good fit for me to better understand how to help them.

Have you had any meaningful internship experiences?

I worked at the Trauma Resolution Center for two semesters during my field placement. In this position I facilitated groups, including one on the Psychobiology of Trauma, as well as Mindfulness classes. I was also able to conduct one-on-one sessions with individuals that have experienced various forms of trauma, including human trafficking survivors. At the Trauma Resolution Center, I was able to learn a trauma specific modality, as well as their holistic approach. Staff, interns and clients are all offered holistic services including massage, acupuncture, yoga, reiki and sound bowl meditation. Trauma Resolution Center is a model for trauma-informed care, and has guided my understanding of how to treat trauma effectively.

Is there anyone who inspired you or helped you along your journey?

Professor Zaoui gave me many opportunities to develop professionally, to learn more about a topic I am passionate about, and to learn advanced clinical skills. I was very fortunate to be given opportunities to present with her and learn from her. I am very grateful that she helped to cultivate my professional development and always treated me as a colleague.

Professor Martha Vallejo is also a source of inspiration for me and met her as one of my instructors at Barry. She has extensive experience working with refugee populations all over the world and has a true passion to help these vulnerable populations. I am fortunate to be currently working with her for my clinical supervision.

What are your plans for your future career?

My passion is to continue to work with refugees and human trafficking survivors. I hope to enhance my clinical skills and expertise in working with these groups. I also want to be an advocate for these populations, continue to educate others, and raise awareness.


Laurel Dettman MSW 16’

Laurel Dettman MSW ‘16

Before coming to Barry for her MSW, Laurel graduated from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA with a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies. During her time at Barry sje interned at Nicklaus Children’s hospital and at a private practice called Counsel and Connect Inc. She has experience working with children and with LGBTQ people of all ages as well as victims of human trafficking. She recently published an article on the socialworker.com website about working with her first transgender client.

When did your desire to become a Social Worker start?

I feel like I was always meant to be a social worker I just didn’t know it until I thought about getting my master’s degree. I have always loved helping others and have volunteered many different times for many different agencies and enjoy seeing the happiness in others.

What made you choose Barry University to complete your graduate studies?

I chose Barry to pursue my Master’s degree in social work because I had heard great things about the program and wanted a place where the Professor’s really cared about the students and their learning and that is definitely what Barry is. Another reason is that Barry offers a clinical social work program that is trauma informed which is what I wanted so that I could have a full well rounded social work perspective.

Is there anyone who inspired you or helped you along your journey?

Throughout my time at Barry, Professor Naranjo was a huge inspiration. He is an amazing professor and person and has a clear passion for social work that is truly motivating. I enjoyed the class and opportunities that I got to share with him. Another person who was influential was my supervisor when I was an intern at Counsel and Connect Inc. Noemi Marquez, LCSW. She is also a graduate of Barry. She is an amazing clinician and has helped to guide me in my journey as a social worker.

Currently I am employed at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami Dade/Monroe in the Early Head Start program as a Family Advocate.


Courtney Smith, MSW ‘16

Courtney Smith, MSW ‘16

Courtney Smith is a recent MSW graduate of Barry University. While at Barry she participated in numerous professional developments, joined the Student Social Work Association, and was a graduate research assistant to two professors. Courtney earned a B.S. in Clinical Psychology at Southern Adventist University, where she conducted her own independent research study on Mate Selection. She enjoyed being a member of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology while perusing her undergraduate. Courtney has had experience working in Child Welfare, Gerontology, and Community Development with vulnerable communities, families, and individuals.

When did your desire to become a Social Worker start?

My passion for social work started in the first grade and carried on throughout the rest of my academic career. Even in the first grade, I was case managing, I made sure to be friends with everyone, especially the new students so no one would feel alone. I was always making sure everyone had something to eat, my mom would always give me 3 or 4 snacks with my lunch and I would make sure to give my snacks to the students that did not have food. As a young child, I knew the importance of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, specifically meeting others need for safety and belonging. By the time I was in the sixth grade, I was able to put a title to the work, and I knew I wanted to be either a Counselor or a Social Worker.

What made you choose Barry University to complete your graduate studies?

I chose Barry for two main reasons. The first reason I chose to attend Barry University School of Social Work is that it was highly recommended to me by 6 of my colleagues, all alumni of Barry, who now live and work back home in Bermuda, at the Department of Children and Family Services. The second reason is that like I said before, I have always wanted to be a Counselor and a Social worker, so the Clinical Social Work program at Barry University turned out to be the perfect marriage of both. The Social Work program at Barry has a curriculum focused on a trauma-informed resiliency framework that appealed to me while I was deciding what schools I wanted to apply to. I appreciated that during the foundation year we were introduced to the generalist practice perspective and then focused in on clinical social work practice during our concentration year.

Have you had any meaningful internship experiences?

My love for Social Work grew from my summer internships at DCFS in Bermuda where I was exposed to some of the most vulnerable populations in Bermuda. It was during those internships that I came to understand what a social worker does, and I was sold almost instantly. My internship with Miami Children’s Initiative also impacted me in ways that I could write on endlessly. My experience in Liberty City taught me so much about the clinical side of working on the micro, mezzo, and macro level in a community. For example, on any given day at my internship I may get to be involved in a morning meeting regarding policies that impact the families I work with, later in that same day I may get to work with part of a family in a couple’s session, and then in that same afternoon meet with their child for an individual session.

Is there anyone who inspired you or helped you along your journey?

I can honestly say that ALL of the Social Worker’s at DCFS in Bermuda inspired me in some way. I was gifted with the opportunity to work the Social Workers and Social Work Assistants on the Family Preservation Team, and the lessons that I have learned from them are invaluable. Also through the mentorship and opportunities provided by Dr. Tisa McGhee, Dr. Olga Osby, and my Field Educator Edwina Knox-Betty, I was able to narrow down my career interests even further. I have found true fulfillment in working with vulnerable children and families in communities where there are high levels of violence and crime, specifically gun and domestic violence.

My Field Educator, Mrs. Knox-Betty really helped me to grow as a clinician tremendously as she provided me with countless hours of supervision that was targeted at my development as a social worker both professionally and personally. My supervisions with her were always empowering as she encouraged me from the beginning to be confident in my unique gifts and to recognize that we all have our own professional stance and way that we “show up”. Mrs. Knox-Betty was also an awesome teacher as she really made our internship experience into a live classroom. She made it mandatory for the interns to speak using clinical terminology, and always had us connect what we observed or what we were doing with theory. I will forever be grateful for her expertise and insight that she purposefully and skillfully shared with us.

What are your plans for your future career?

In the future, I aim to be the CEO of an organization that specializes in aiding children and families in dealing with the challenges of experiencing a traumatic event. I would like to utilize my background in trauma and resilience to lead a team that will provide services in any setting whether it be in the home, office, school, or out in the larger community. As a leader I hope to be approachable, maintain an awareness of the organizational culture, and remain open to new ideas and change.

I would also like to pursue my Doctorate in Social Work and teach Social Work courses at the Bermuda College.


Leonard Mckhan, MSW, ISW

Leonard Mckhan, MSW, ISW

Leonard’s journey into social work first began with the inspiration of his mother. She was a social worker who displayed great attention and care to the mentally and physically handicapped clients she served. Her selfless display of care for others helped him realize at an early age that social work was his true career calling.

Fast forward to applications for colleges and universities lying before him and the stress of picking the perfect school to embark on his new project. Through extensive research and select on-campus visits, his quest brought him to Barry University’s School of Social Work. “Not only does its reputation precede it as a pillar in the nation for its renowned social work program, but its partnerships within the tri-county area of Dade, Broward and Palm Beach for internships prove the best education money can buy. From the moment I entered the doors the feeling was warm and inviting. When I entered the School of Social Work as an undergraduate, I quickly realized this was a family atmosphere.

Students, staff and professors alike were always encouraging, supportive and expressed a deep caring that can likely not be matched.” Through hard work and determination, Leonard completed his undergraduate degree and decided to go full steam ahead into the Advanced Standing MSW program. It was in the master’s program that he also found great support, continued friendships and amazing professors who helped to mold, shape and frame his thinking and prepare him for a future as a social work clinician.

“Upon completion of my graduate studies, I felt, and continue to feel today that Barry University’s School of Social Work helped to establish a solid foundation. This foundation paired with a focused driven curriculum and internships, provided unquantifiable career related training.” It was only a short while after graduation that he was immediately hired with yet another pillar in the South Florida community; Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, FL. He was hired initially to work on the inpatient oncology unit and spent seven years here learning, growing and fulfilling a calling to work with a population of people who deserve the utmost care. “Utilizing the knowledge from Barry helped make that evolution smooth and seamless.” Transitioning next to outpatient oncology, he continued to grow in knowledge and experience in a field that is bursting at the seams with advancements, treatments and breakthrough medicines. Currently, he utilizes his skill-set to facilitate groups for prostate cancer, caregivers, general cancer support and a Buddy Up program which links newly diagnosed cancer patients with former cancer patients for support. His is a constant presence in the community for outreach on cancer awareness and education and speaks on various topics as a member of the Speakers Bureau. He also participate in many volunteer-based community service activities. He earned the Rising Star Award in 2014 and has assisted in multiple different organizational developments that have helped Memorial Cancer Institute better treat the not only the patients, but their families as well.

“I am a strong believer in the saying “It takes a village”. The village in this case is Barry University School of Social Work. For that I am and will always be eternally grateful for the opportunity to have attended such a stellar institution. Although small, the strength in numbers and wealth of overflowing support speaks volumes. THANK YOU!!!”


Nattasha Charania MSW

Nattasha Charania MSW ‘08

Nattasha Charania, LMSW, ACM recently received the Social Worker of the Year, Outstanding Achievement Award for Excellence in Social Work from Emory University Hospital Midtown located in Atlanta, Georgia. Nattasha graduated from Barry University School of Social Work in 2008. She started working for Emory in 2008 as a Perinatal Social Worker. She works with mothers and babies before, during and after birth. She participates on an inter-disciplinary team to ensure that patients have access to support and counseling as needed during their inpatient admission at Emory. She also works with the medical team to coordinate discharge needs for high risk infants which may include medical equipment, home nursing, daycare, etc.


Ariel Corniel MSW, LCSW

Ariel Corniel MSW, LCSW 03’

I came to Barry University in 2001 after graduating with a Bachelor's in Psychology from F.I.U. I was mainly searching for an educational environment that provided a more personal touch. Somewhere where I did not feel like just a number roaming the hallways. Barry University not only provided this environment but also a fantastic social work education. A comment made by my supervisor at my first post-Master's employment highlights just how remarkable this education was. After working at this agency for approximately one month, my supervisor shared with me the following statement: "I can always tell the difference between Barry students and students from another social work school." Of course, this was a compliment to Barry educated social work students and a testament to the ability of the School of Social Work to develop capable social workers. Thanks to my Barry experience, I've been able to gain experience in various areas of social work. I have worked in non-profits assisting low-income families, foster care, hospitals, the hospice field, and currently for the federal government. I credit my classroom experience and internships at Barry University with providing me with the tools necessary to traverse and adapt across these various areas of social work.


Sharon Crippen MSW ’92

Sharon Crippen MSW ’92

Sharon Crippen is a licensed clinical social worker in Florida with over 20 years of experience in the substance abuse field. She received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science from St. Thomas University in 1988, where she was on the Nationals Dean List. She received her master’s in social work from Barry University in 1992. Crippen is also certified by the Supreme Court of Florida as a county and family mediator.

During her career, Crippen has been involved with many charitable and civic organizations. In 2003, while at Catholic Charities’ St. Luke’s Addiction Recovery Center, they received a Best Practice Award from FADAA for the most innovative program.

As program director for Community Partnership for the Homeless, she supervised the case management staff at two homeless assistance facilities for over 700 residents, and oversaw the family resource center and head start programs. She was elected as an At Large Member to the Alliance for Human Services, was appointed to the Miami-Dade Community College Addiction Service Board, and is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and a Counsel of Accreditation Peer Review. Crippen is currently working as the senior vice president for WestCare’s Florida Region. WestCare Florida has facilities across the state and more than 450 employees. The offices are located in St. Petersburg, Miami and the Florida Keys. The organization offers substance abuse and mental health services, including: residential, outpatient, in-home/on-site, early intervention/prevention for children, and youth and families. Additionally, they offer CSU, detoxification services, criminal justice and correctional-based services and county-wide Medicaid and transportation disadvantaged programs. There are also different locations that offer outreach and prevention services, such as HIV testing, counseling and referrals.


Linda R. Angress, MSW

Linda R. Angress, MSW ‘82 (left)

Linda R. Angress, MSW has been named the 2014 Social Worker of the Year by the Miami-Dade Unit of the Florida Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). We also would like to thank Linda for her continued contributions as an Alumnus of the School of Social Work. This past February, Linda facilitated a workshop for current students entitled: Social Work Practice with Developmental Disabilities.