A Seventh-day Adventist Organization

Meet Our Students

Department of Counseling and Family Sciences

Dayanne "Danna" Carter, MS, LMFT

Danna is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist and a PhD student in the Marital and Family Therapy program at Loma Linda University. Originally from Brazil, she moved to San Diego in 2007 to pursue her graduate studies and earned a Masters of Science in Counseling at San Diego State University (SDSU) in 2010. She worked as a Research Assistant at SDSU’s Center for Community Engagement (CCCE), providing psychotherapy services to individuals, families, and couples utilizing narrative practices. Also after licensure, she provided clinical supervision at CCCE to graduate students as an AAMFT-approved Supervisor Candidate. Danna worked at a local children’s hospital in the outpatient setting for the past five years. Her clinical work focused on children and adolescents exhibiting high-risk behaviors such as self-harm and suicidality while utilizing evidence-based interventions and trauma informed care. Her research interests include clinical training, pet assisted interventions, cross-cultural teaching collaboration, and documentation practices in psychotherapy.

Sheldon Smith, MDiv

Sheldon is a 3rd-year doctoral student currently pursuing a PhD in Family Studies. Previously, he studied at Andrews University, where he completed a Masters in Divinity with an emphasis in Family Life. His research interest is in the area of fathers and their interaction and engagement with their families. For his dissertation, his focus is on post-incarcerated fathers and their re-entry experiences as they transition into parenting roles. Presently, he contract teaches in the School of Religion at LLU, in both the relational and theological areas. Sheldon also serves his church community as Family Life Director and is happily married to Calcine. They are co-parents of three children--Michael, Joshua, and Aleah. In his spare time, Sheldon likes to read, play soccer, watch movies, and have a great time with his family. Additionally, he likes to preach and conduct Family Life seminars on various issues affecting the family.

Louis C. Wright III, MS

Louis is a first-year doctoral student of the marriage and family therapy (DMFT) program at Loma Linda University. He received his BS in Psychology from Jackson State University and his MS in Marriage and Family Counseling from Mississippi College. His research interests are in both single and co-parenting techniques, disproportionately disadvantaged youth, the development of unhealthy behavior patterns in young children, racial identity development, spirituality, human sexuality, as well as post-traumatic growth in underprivileged populations. In addition, Louis specializes in marriage and family counseling, divorce prevention, brief counseling, and focuses on the "wellness" of integrated family systems and blended families. He seeks to empower families, minority males (including those who have been incarcerated), and single mothers. He is currently an Associate Counselor at Mount San Jacinto Community College. At MSJC he serves in general counseling, develops student education plans (iSEPs), facilitates course planning, follow-ups, and supports student success programs as directed.

Department of Psychology

Desiree Azizoddin, MA

Desiree is a doctoral candidate studying health psychology. She received her BA in Psychology and Social Behavioral from the University of California, Irvine. Her clinical interests include providing treatments and consultation services to patients suffering from chronic health conditions. Her research interests include examining the biopsychosocial model of disease with patients suffering from cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Her doctoral project focuses on examining and improving the distress screening and referral system within Loma Linda University's Medical Oncology clinics. Overall, she is interested in solidifying integration of psychological services within medical facilities to improve patient centered care.

Ma (Maria) Corona, MA

Ma is a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Loma Linda University. Her current research focuses on the effects of emotion on cognition using basic cognitive paradigms. She holds an MA from the California State University Northridge in Experimental Psychology. Currently, she is also a practicum student at the Cultural Neuropsychology Initiative (CNI) at the UCLA Semel Institute of Neuroscience. There she conducts neuropsychological evaluations of monolingual Spanish speakers and bilingual (Spanish-English) individuals with a variety of medical conditions.

Meredith Dennis

Meredith is a 2nd-year Clinical Psychology PhD student. She is from Lakewood, CA and received her BA in Psychology from California State University, Long Beach where she did research examining how perinatal depression affects developmental outcomes during early childhood. For the last 5 years, Meredith has worked as a behavior therapist for children with autism providing a variety of services to families. As part of her experience serving special needs children, she was given the opportunity to live and work in Istanbul, Turkey for a family affected by autism. When she's not at school, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking with her dogs, and loves to travel.

Jared Doegey

Jared is a PsyD doctoral student. His interest is working with at-risk adolescents on a clinical level. His research includes studying the attributions of caretakers of adolescent sex offenders towards their cliental. He received a BA in History, a single-subject teaching credential in History/Social Studies, and English Supplemental Teaching Degree from the California State University of Sacramento. His clinical experience includes working for the LLU Behavioral Health Institute providing outpatient mental health treatment in a multidisciplinary community mental health facility, a designated Instructional Service Intern Counselor  for the Redlands Unified School District providing services needed for public school students to access his or her education and IEP goals (both academic and behavioral), and a Psychology Practicum Trainee for the LLU Behavioral Medicine Center working as a clinician for the SHIELD Program, an intensive outpatient program for self-harming adolescents.

Natacha Emerson, MA

Natacha is pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Pediatric Psychology. Her areas of interest include pediatric chronic illness, self-efficacy, health disparities, and family-based interventions for medically ill children. She completed her thesis on attachment, depression, and self-concept in adolescents with chronic illness taking part in the LLU MEND intervention. For her dissertation, she is working with Brian Distelberg, PhD to create and validate a self-efficacy measure for pediatric chronic illness. Natacha also works at UCLA, contributing to research on lifestyle factors involved in neurodegeneration. Natacha enjoys working with families of all kinds and hopes to eventually work in a major medical center, doing both clinical and research work with families facing medical challenges.

Spring Flores Gehring, MA

Spring is a PhD student with a clinical focus in Neuropsychology. She received a BA in psychology with a minor in English, and spent 8 years as a certified public high school educator teaching classes in English, psychology, and sociology, and was honored as a Coca-Cola Educator of Distinction. Spring’s research interests include cognitive decline due to traumatic brain injury, stroke, or dementia, and rehabilitation of cognitive abilities after neurological insult. Currently she is an extern at Loma Linda Medical Center East Campus providing assessment, rehabilitation, and brief psychotherapy for an inpatient and outpatient population. In addition, Spring provides educational community presentations on epilepsy development, recognition, and first-aid through the Epilepsy Support Network of Orange County.

Shina Halavi, MA

Shina is a PhD candidate at Loma Linda University for Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Neuropsychology. She received her MA in Psychology from Loma Linda University and her BS in Cognitive Science from University of California, Los Angeles. Shina’s research interests include analyzing behavioral and histological data of double-transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease as well as assessing the behavioral, affective, and histological developments in mice after receiving various levels of traumatic brain injury.

Blake Hilton, MA

Blake is currently a 4th-year PsyD student in Clinical Psychology. He received his BA in Psychology at the University of Central Oklahoma. Blake currently works as a Psychology Trainee with the VA Loma Linda Healthcare System and Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health, Inc. Blake's clinical interests include the treatment of substance use disorders and co-occurring psychopathology. Blake is a member of Dr. Hector Betancourt's Culture and Behavior Laboratory, and his research interests focus on determinants of substance-related behaviors in the American Indian/Alaska Native population.

Aron J. Jacobson, MA

Aron is a doctoral candidate at Loma Linda University. He received his MA in Psychology (2014) from Southern Connecticut State University and his BA in Psychology (2010) from California State University, Northridge. His main research interest is in exploring structural (MRI) and function (fMRI) brain data to better understand neuronal and cognitive processes, both in healthy controls and patients with mental disorders. Currently, Aron is working with Dr. Grace Lee, looking at structural brain changes over time among various diagnostic groups.

Taggart Kountz, MA

Taggart is a doctoral student studying clinical psychology. He received his MA in general psychology from New York University (2009), and also has some background experience in education. During his master’s work, Mr. Kountz obtained several years' experience assisting with research in assessing various institutions treatment programs. Mr. Kountz's research interests include psychotherapy processes and outcomes, and he is currently involved in a project assessing the relationship between an outcome measure and psychotherapy dropout. He is also assisting in research projects involving premorbid signs of dementia and qualitative assessment of mothers of children diagnosed with autism.

Pamela V. Lorenzo, MA

Pamela is a doctoral candidate in the clinical psychology program with a neuropsychology concentration. She received her MA from Loma Linda University (2014). She is currently working on her thesis that observes the effects of a proton radiation and a pomegranate enriched-diet. She is also currently conducting therapy and assessments with clients at the LLU Behavioral Health Institute. She is involved in Dr. Richard Hartman’s Behavioural Neuroscience Lab. She is involved in the Peer Mentor program in the Department of Psychology along with being a coordinator for the San Bernardino Local Brain Bee.

Susanna Luu, MA

Susanna is a 4th-year Clinical Psychology PhD student at LLU who loves to work with children in a wide range of environments both professionally and personally. Her research interests include parent-child interactions, buffers of maladaptive outcomes, and the impact of intervention on cognitive ability. Currently, she is interested in examining different forms of social support as buffers of stress within ethnic minority families of children with developmental delays. In her clinical work, she has a passion for integrating cultural factors into neuropsychological assessment in a child population. She hopes to provide a well-rounded perspective in neuropsychological assessment and recommendations with sustainable benefits for children.

Christina Moldovan, MA

Christina is pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis on health. She is interested in the interplay between emotional and physical health, and in examining how acts in daily life affect well-being. Currently, she is studying how walnuts, exercise, and spirituality influence cognitive functions; the impact of caffeine on overactive bladder symptoms, social interactions, and mood; and, the effect of food cravings, depression, and pharmacological agents on weight loss. Her thesis examined the role of ethnicity and appearance-related commentary on eating disorders and body image. Her dissertation focuses on positive psychology and assessment of well-being. In clinical work, she utilizes positive psychology interventions, mindfulness, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and other evidence-based techniques to promote wellness in her clients.

Britan Moore, MA

Britan is a 3rd-year Clinical Psychology PhD student. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research interests include studying differences in brain activity between individuals with personality disorders, particularly Antisocial Personality Disorder, and healthy controls as well as the progression of conduct disorder in children to Antisocial Personality Disorder in adulthood. Britan is also currently involved in a project examining the impact of proactive coping skills on nurses working in the Loma Linda Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Courtney Ray, MA, MDiv

Courtney is a Clinical Psychology doctoral candidate whose concentration is Neuroscience and Neuropsychology. She holds a Masters of Divinity from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University and Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Theology from Andrews University. Ms. Ray is a researcher at Dr. Richard Hartman’s Behavioral Neuroscience Lab studying quantitative analyses, qualitative studies, and behavioral effects of brain injuries. Her clinical interests include psychological assessment administration to patients in medical settings. Her practicum experiences include training at the LLU Behavioral Health Institute, City of Hope Medical Center, and the UCLA Semel Institute of Neuroscience.

Serena Stevens, MA

Serena is a PhD candidate whose research interests involve weight stigma, eating disorders, and obesity. Her thesis focused on weight stigma as a mediator between current and past weight and psychological outcomes. Her dissertation, which is in progress, examines the influence of media framing of obesity on weight stigma and health knowledge and proposes an alternate frame. She is also active in Dr. Sylvia Herbozo’s Body Image and Eating Behaviors Lab and involved in a number of lab projects. This year, Serena is completing her internship at the Richard L. Roudebush VAMC in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Seda Terzyan, MA

Seda is a Clinical Psychology 5th-year PhD student, with an emphasis on Neuropsychology. Worked in various clinical rotations with diverse populations ranging from providing care to brain injured patients in a rehabilitation hospital to counseling students in a university settings. Research interests focused on bridging the gap between cognitive science and clinical application for treatment. Specifically looking at how emotion impacts cognitive mechanisms like attention and how new treatment approaches for anxiety and trauma can be formulated.

Department of Social Work & Social Ecology

Kelly Baek, MSW

Kelly is a doctoral student focusing on Korean American women and mental health views and experiences--in particular, marginalized subgroups such as pastors' wives. Her research interests include mental health, developing culturally relevant and sensitive social work curriculum, resiliency, and quality of life. She received her BA in Sociology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and her MSW from Wayne State University. She has experience in the nonprofit sector in policy, evaluation, resource development, program development, recruitment, and event planning. She also has several years of experience in small business management. 

Jacquelyn Stephenson, MSW

Jacquelyn is a doctoral candidate in Social Research and Social Policy. She received her MSW from Loma Linda University and her BAs in Sociology and Chicana and Chicano Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. As the Health Informatics Specialist for a Federally Qualified Health Center in San Bernardino, CA, she has gained experience in the management and organization of improving clinical outcomes for economically disadvantaged populations. Her research interests focus on integrating health care systems and services for individuals served in community health clinics, with a particular emphasis on mental health services for Spanish-speaking populations.

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