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Graduate Assistant

Yvonne Epps

Yvonne received her Bachelor's in Social Work from San Diego State University in 2013 and a year later started working for San Diego County's Child Welfare Services (CWS). For five years, Yvonne has worked with families involved with CWS and provided case management services to those who were involved with both court mandated cases and voluntary non-court involved cases. She has also previously worked as an investigator for emergency response, and specialized in medically fragile cases, assessing the safety and risk of their homes, and connecting them with local services. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Social Work with an emphasis in macro practice through Boston University's Online School of Social Work and is expected to graduate in 2023.
Graduate Assistant

Elana Metz

Elana is a dual Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health student at San Diego State University and is expected to graduate in Spring 2023. She works part-time at SPI as a Graduate Assistant and focuses on projects related to Aging and Workforce Development. Elana is passionate about building inclusive communities, and brings several years of experience in program development, leadership, and grant writing.
MSW Intern

Jordan Parnes

Jordan received his Bachelor’s in Philosophy from New York University in 2013 and has worked in human services since that time, primarily focusing on behavioral health with individuals experiencing homelessness and people who use drugs. In his work as an outreach worker, case manager, and harm reduction specialist he has gained insight to how various systems intersect to affect these populations. Jordan has dedicated his career to finding and employing innovative strategies to combat behavioral health challenges faced by at-risk individuals and communities. He is currently pursuing both a Master’s in Social Work and Master’s in Public Health at San Diego State University’s dual degree program and is expected to graduate in 2023.
MSW Intern

Elvira Ruiz

Elvira is a first generation Mexican American Social Work student and has worked with the Autism population and Behavioral Health System for the last 4 years. She is an advanced Social Work Master student at California State University San Marcos and is expected to graduate in 2023. Elvira is passionate about applying Human Centered Design processes and Cultural humility in combination with evidence-based practices to engage historically underserved populations, particularly the Latinx community. One of her long-term professional goals is to be involved in International Social work in the US-Mexico border region to promote wellbeing and preventative policy on both sides of the border.
Graduate Assistant

Jakob Schmall

After volunteering with SPI during his fourth year as undergraduate student at SDSU studying Biology with minors in Interdisciplinary Studies and Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience, Jakob works part-time with SPI as a student assistant supporting a wide variety of projects. This fall, Jakob will embark on his journey as a Graduate Student at SDSU’s School of Public Health with an emphasis in Health Management and Policy. Outside of the Social Policy Institute, Jakob continues to work in the residence halls as an Assistant Coordinator for Programming.
Student Assistant

Emily Tran

Emily Tran (she/her/hers) is a second-generation Vietnamese-American to two refugee parents and is a part of the LGBTQ+ community. In 2013, she became certified as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) and found her passion in serving vulnerable populations in the community, specifically in providing care for senior citizens in the Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE). She is currently an undergraduate student at San Diego State University majoring in Gerontology and minoring in Asian Studies. As a result of her passion in the field of health and senior care, she is currently serving as the Chair of the Commission on Aging in Chula Vista and hopes to redefine what aging means by challenging people’s stereotypes about the process.
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