2014 Cohort

Name: Saeid Kianpour
Program of Study: Marriage and Family Therapy
Degrees: BA in Education, Isfahan, Iran; MA in Psychology-Family Therapy, Tehran, Iran
Research Interests: International Family Therapy
Advisor: Dr. Erika Grafsky
Instructor for HD 2304: Family Relationships, spring 2017.
Teacher Assistant for HD 2304: Family Relationships, fall 2016 (the TA apprentice program).
Teacher Assistant for HD 2335: Principles of Human Services I, spring 2015
Teacher Assistant for HD 1004: Human Development Conception through Adolescence, spring 2015 and 2016.
Teacher Assistant for HD 1004: Human Development I (Online) Conception to Adolescence, spring 2016.
Teacher Assistant for HD 3014: Research Methods (Online), Fall 2015.
Expected Graduation Year: May 2018
Birthday: February 12th
Other info about Saeid: Saeid is a Marriage and Family Therapy Doctoral Intern at the Indiana University School of Medicine with the IU-Methodist Family Medicine Residency. Having spent the last three years in Virginia, Saeid has moved west, to Indiana after being selected as a doctoral intern at the IU-Methodist Family Medicine Residency. Saeid is married and has a young son. In his free time, he enjoys photography, climbing, and hiking.


Name: Libbie Sonnier-Netto
Program of Study: Family Science and Implementation Science
Degree(s): B.S. in Special Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Intervention from the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS; M.Ed. in Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support Services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Other Background: Working at both local and state levels, as well as the implementation of federal programs at the state level, I have a broad scope of experiences that include the delivering of family support services as a primary service provider to children and their families’ birth to age three in community and hospital settings, the establishment of a model assessment team for Part C eligibility, the coordination of early childhood statewide programs and pilots for children birth to five years old, and the direction of an early hearing detection and intervention program.
Research Interests: I study the implementation of evidence-based practices related to improving the life chances of children and their families at risk due to social determinants (e.g. income/social gradient, education, physical environment, disability, and health).
Advisors: Sharon Landesman Ramey & Craig T. Ramey
Assistantships: Graduate Research Assistant in the Ramey Lab of Human Development and the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute’s Neuromotor Research Clinic
Expected Graduation Year: Spring 2018
Birthday: November 27th
Other info about Libbie: Alpha Epsilon Lambda Graduate Honor Society- 2017
Virginia Tech Graduate Student Assembly Travel Award- 2017
Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society- 2017
Rotary Club of Roanoke Valley, 2017 Extraordinary Women of the Roanoke Valley “Rising Star”- 2017
Hulick Serving Spirit Fellowship Award, Virginia Tech, 2016-2018


Name: Emily A. Gary
Program of Study: Marriage and Family Therapy
Degrees: B.A. Anthropology & Sociology from Warren Wilson College
M.S. Marriage and Family Therapy from The University of Southern Mississippi
Research Interests: religion and spirituality, women’s and gender studies, human sexuality
Advisor: Dr. Erika Grafsky
Assistantships: Taught HD 2336: Principles of Human Services II and HD 2314: Human Sexuality
Expected Graduation Year: 2018



Name: Shelby Borowski
Program of Study: Family Studies
Advisor: Dr. Anisa Zvonkovic






Name: Renu K. Aldrich, MA, PhD (c), LMFT

Program of Study: Marriage and Family Therapy

Degrees: BA in Political Science, Journalism from New York University; MA in Marriage & Family Therapy, Hofstra University

Other background: Renu is a journalist, having worked previously at The Associated Press, The Boston Globe, and other media outlets. Before entering the MFT field, she was a communications executive on Wall Street, academia, and the publishing world. She continues to use her background to advance the MFT field, most recently spending 2017 as the assistant editor of the upcoming Systemic Family Handbook being published in 2019 under the auspices of AAMFT.

Research Interests: Treatment, education, and posttraumatic growth for adult survivors of developmental trauma; the unique needs of immigrant families in America with transgenerational trauma issues; identity reconstruction and development of self-love through the combination of Eastern philosophy and Western psychology; the role of alternative spiritual practices and peak experiences in trauma recovery; effectiveness of the clinical application of writing, poetry therapy, psychodrama, and other creative and expressive arts.

Current Projects: Renu’s dissertation focuses on the relationship between anxiety and spiritual status as a minority or majority in the United States, and how it is impacted by spiritual practices and perceptions of God. She is also collaborating on a program to provide trauma-informed pediatric care with students at the Mercer School of Medicine. She will lead her third consecutive workshop on diversity and social justice at AAMFT’s national conference in 2018.

Advisors: Dr. Fred Piercy and Dr. J. Tina Savla

Graduate Instructor, Human Sexuality, 2017

Graduate Teaching Apprenticeship with Victoria Blanchard, 2016-2017

Editorial Assistant, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 2014-2016

Awards/ Fellowships: Minority Fellowship Program-Doctoral, 2015-2017

Internship: In addition to an active clinical caseload, Renu is currently teaching and supervising graduate MFT students as the MFT Doctoral Teaching Intern at Mercer University’s School of Medicine in Macon, GA. Among the classes she has been teaching at Mercer are: Theories of Family Therapy;Marital, Couple, and Sexual Issues in Family Therapy; Diversity & Social Justice, Ethics and Professional Issues in Marriage and Family Therapy; and Clinical Practicum.

Expected Graduation Year: May 2018

Other info about Renu: In her “free” time, Renu enjoys gardening, camping with friends, and running an online glossy lifestyles magazine for her Druid community, www.druidmagazine.com.



Name: Ruvimbo Tsokodayi
Program of Study: Child and Adolescent Development
Degree(s): B.S. in Health Sciences from Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY; M.S. Marriage and Family Therapy (with distinction) from Mercy College, NY
Research Interests: I study parent-child interaction and parenting determinants, stress and parenting, migration stress in refugee families
Advisor: Dr. Christine Kaestle
Assistantships: Graduate Research Assistant in the Child Development Center for
Learning and Research, Graduate Instructor for HD 1004, HD 3214, and HD 4964
Expected Graduation Year: May 2019