Diversity Committe

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The Diversity Committee is a group of people engaged in critical conversations about multicultural issues within ourselves, within the group, and in the community around us. Our mission is to equip individuals for educating, mentoring, serving, and actively engaging in opportunities that challenge stereotyped beliefs and create an atmosphere of openness, curiosity, inspiration, responsibility and concern for others.

The Diversity Committee was formed out of a need to engage University of Memphis graduate students in active dialogue on diversity issues. It has been many things over the years including a space for students to examine their own views, biases, and assumptions with support from peers, as well as a resource within the department to spearhead multicultural activities. The Diversity Committee aims to illuminate multiculturalism through explicit conversation within the campus community and active service to the community. Through our mission we also hope to be an integral catalyst for the training of internationally competent professionals steeped in the knowledge of social justice issues.

The Diversity Committee is housed in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research. Membership is open to any University of Memphis graduate student who is committed to the mission stated above regardless of their department. Please feel free to join us at a meeting or contact the committee officers for more information!

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Meet the Diversity Committee 2023-24

Swathi Prabhu, President (She/her/hers)

swathiSwathi is a second-year student in the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Sexuality Studies from UNC Chapel Hill. Swathi completed her Master’s degree in Professional School Counseling at Appalachian State University. Her professional experiences have been in a variety of settings including community mental health, middle and high school, and – more recently – higher education. Prior to attending UofM, Swathi served as the Assistant Director of Mental Health & Bystander Initiatives at Virginia Tech. She developed and oversaw programs that focused on emotional wellness skill-building, suicide prevention, peer and group support, and sexual violence prevention. Her professional interests include multicultural counseling, sexuality and working with LGBTQ+ populations, college student well-being, and resilience / strengths-based approaches to health promotion.

Ivys Morales, Vice President (She/her/hers)


Ivys Morales is a second-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program. She is from Newark, New Jersey, and completed her BA in Psychology and MA in Clinical Psychology with a Concentration in Forensic Psychology from Montclair State University. Her research interests include competency to stand trial, forensic assessments, correctional treatment, and systemic bias within the criminal justice system. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, watching horror movies, and hanging out with friends and family.

Sam Raines, Secretary (He/him/his)


Sam Raines is a second-year Counseling Psychology Ph.D. student. He earned his Bachelor’s in Psychology from Lambuth University and then graduated with his Master’s in College Student Personnel from University of Tennessee–Knoxville.  Sam’s research interest is how to improve our capacity to develop positive feelings toward people with whom we disagree on fundamental values, as well as conspiracy thinking and the impact of mindfulness on our well-being. When he isn’t actively working on school, Sam enjoys writing, hiking, and playing music.

Diarra Smith, Treasurer (She/her/hers)


Diarra J. Smith is a second-year Counseling Psychology doctoral student and Memphis native. She received her B.A. in psychology from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a Master's in counseling from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Her research interests center resilience and Black Liberation in the lives of African American men. She enjoys hanging out with family, friends, and her chocolate shih tzu named Leo! 

Aqdas Khan, Events & Social Media Chair (He/him/his)


Aqdas Khan is a first-year Counseling Psychology Ph.D. student. He graduated with his Bachelor’s in Behavioral Sciences: Psychology from Western Michigan University. Aqdas’ research interests include studying psychopathology in intersectional individuals, especially LGBTQ+ BIPOC communities; learned helplessness; resilience; and predictors or interventions for positive outcomes. His personal interests are social justice and equity, mental health awareness, traveling, fashion, food, Taylor Swift, hiking, arcades, and hanging out with friends.

Ashley Messina, CPSY First Year Representative (She/her/hers)


Ashley is from New Orleans, Louisiana and is a first-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program. She majored in Psychology and double minored in Women’s Studies and Studio Arts at Loyola University. She also completed an M.S. in Psychology from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her research and advocacy interests focus on interpersonal trauma and resilience factors, race-based stress, and identity. Outside of school, Ashley enjoys being creative, practicing photography, reading, and walking her dog.

Jean Black, Counselor Education & Supervision Representative (She/her/hers)


      Jean Black received her Bachelor’s in Psychology with a minor in Biology at the University of Central Arkansas. She continued to serve as a recovery advocate and mental health program supervisor at Birch Tree Communities Inc. in Conway Arkansas. Jean continued her education by completing her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Memphis. She now pursues her doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision at the UofM. Jean loves advocating for social justice and diversity inclusion. She actively serves her community as a licensed professional counselor, educator, and research assistant.

Dr. Chrisann Schiro-Geist, Faculty Advisor (She/her/hers)


Chrisann Schiro-Geist, Ph.D. is a full professor of Counseling Psychology and Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Memphis and a Vocational Expert in private practice. Her many published papers and juried presentations are primarily focused on the intersection of work and disability and underserved populations. She is a nationally certified Rehabilitation Counselor, a Diplomate of the American Board of Vocational Experts and a certified International Psychometric Evaluator, Certified by the American Board of Vocational Experts. She was President of the American Board of Vocational Experts (2019-21) and the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association (2018). She is a Vocational Expert for the Social Security Administration and does both plaintiff and defense work in a variety of areas related to the value of work. She is also a licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of Illinois

Chelsea Liddell, Program Manager, Student Inclusion, Office of Multicultural Affairs(She/her/hers)


Chelsea Liddell is originally from Paragould, Arkansas, and completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Music, as well as her Master of Science in Psychology, at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Arkansas. During her time at Arkansas Tech, she focused on issues within the LGBTQ+ community, and continues that focus in a lot of her work today. She has 7 years of experience teaching psychology in the community college and university setting. Currently, she is the Program Manager for Student Inclusion in the Office of Multicultural Affairs where she advises several student organizations, develops and conducts diversity and inclusion programming and training, and assists with other programming produced by the office.


Previous events include:

  • Critical Conversations: Reproductive Justice Panel
  • White Fragility Discussion in Academia
  • Community Conversation and Dialogue 
  • Unity Walk Against Gun Violence 
  • Working with religious LGBTQ populations, Dr. Tyler Lefevor, Rhodes College
  • Attended Midsouth Pride Festival as a group, Downtown Memphis
  • Working with immigrant populations, Angela Rusk, M.A., Exchange Club/Kindred Place
  • Counselors in Living Color, Black History Month Event, U of M
  • St. Jude Marathon Volunteers: Spirit Stations

If you are interested in knowing more about the Diversity Committee, please email Swathi Prabhu (ssprabhu@memphis.edu), follow us on Instagram (@uofmdiversitycommittee) or Facebook (facebook.com/TheDiversityCommittee) or look for the Diversity Committee emails that come through the CEPR listserv.