2022 Convocation Speakers

DSW Student Speaker

Christine Cocchiola in front of a window showing blurred trees wearing a white eyelet shirtChristine Marie Cocchiola

Dr. Christine Marie Cocchiola, a Coercive Control advocate, educator, researcher, and survivor, has been dedicated to the field of intimate partner violence since her late teens, beginning her career at a local umbrella agency where she continues to volunteer. She is a tenured professor at a Connecticut Community College and an adjunct instructor at NYU, teaching in the Social Work field for over 20 years. Her expertise is in the areas of intimate partner violence including child abuse and trauma, developing and presenting workshops on these topics, both nationally and internationally. Dr. Cocchiola is on the Board of the National Coalition Against Domestic and has a small private practice serving individuals and families.

Cora de Leon leaning against a brick wall wearing small gold hoop earrings and a light grey sweaterPhD Student Speaker

Cora de Leon

Cora de Leon is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the Undergraduate Program at NYU Silver. Cora has more than two decades of clinical and research experience and teaches in several subject domains here at Silver. She is interested in how research informs policy, particularly in the area of tobacco use. She is receiving her PhD this year, with her dissertation focusing on a recent federal smoke-free policy in public housing within the context of COVID-19. In addition to Silver, Professor de Leon has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, Hunter College, and Borough of Manhattan Community College on subjects ranging from research methodology to comprehensive health education. She was previously Coordinator of Silver’s Westchester MSW program and is a member of the Sarah Lawrence College Institutional Review Board. She received her MSW from NYU Silver, her MPH from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and a BA from NYU’s College of Arts and Sciences.

BS Student Speakers

Taelee Kawahinenanea Kimura standing on a beach in front of flowers and trees wearing a white dress under an open violet graduation gown and a floral crown, holding a graduation capTaelee Kawahinenanea Kimura

Taelee Kawahinenanea Kimura is from the island of Kaua’i. While earning her BS in Social Work, she minored in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. She will be pursuing a master’s degree in Social Work at NYU in the fall. It is her hope that someday she will move home and use the knowledge she has acquired while away to uplift the people of Hawai’i.

Abigail McConnell wearing glasses and a dark green ruched shurt in front of a blurred lake and treesAbigail McConnell

Abby McConnell is graduating with her BS in Social Work with a minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies as a University Honors Scholar. She completed her field placement at the Syrian Community Network, supporting clients in immigration applications and developing a trauma-informed volunteering workshop. She was proud to receive the Changemaker Fellowship for her internship at the Syrian Community Network and the Foreign Language and Area Study Fellowship for her Arabic studies. She served as the Senator for Silver Undergraduate Students during her junior year and as the Co-President of USGA during her senior year. During her time at NYU, she volunteered at Hunger Free America, Brooklyn International High School, and Humanities Prep High School and took part in restorative justice training.

MSW Student Speakers

Sejal Mehta wearing an ivory collared shirt and black necklace in front of a light grey wall and window with a sheer white curtainSejal Mehta

Sejal Mehta (she/her) is a South-Asian daughter of immigrant parents whose journey to social work has been far from linear. From accounting student to management consultant and yoga facilitator, Sejal believes that pursuing her Master of Social Work has allowed her to explore and deepen her passions for social change. Sejal is excited to be a therapist to children and families and hopes to help transform mental health education in schools to be more inclusive and accessible. Sejal is also the founder and host of the Silver Linings podcast, where she speaks with other social workers about the power of story-telling and hope as tools for our collective liberation. Sejal believes it is a true honor to support individuals with their healing journeys and feels immensely grateful for this privilege.

Anderson Peguero II in front of a blurred grey backdrop wearing a black suit jacket, white collared shirt, and black tieAnderson Peguero II

Anderson Peguero II is a writer, artist, and academic graduating with NYU Silver's class of 2022. Dedicated to collective liberation in all its forms, he has worked in direct clinical practice for the past year and plans to continue pursuing intentional, healing practice after graduation. He studied biology and psychology at Columbia University before his time at NYU. An avid fiction and poetry writer and editor, among many other hobbies, Anderson brings his multi-disciplinary understanding of emotions and relationships into all he does.

Alumni Network Welcome

Anika Carter wearing glasses, hoop earrings, and a black shirt in front of a black backdropAnika Carter, MSW ’18

Co-Founder, Rooted LLC

Anika Carter is a Licenced Clinical Social Worker and the co-founder of Rooted LLC. She is an Oakland, California native rooted in Harlem, New York. She currently runs and supervises an internship program supporting the development of emerging master level social workers at Union Settlement. She is committed to dismantling the stigmas and barriers within mental health treatment and supporting individuals to identify their liberation within healing. 

Anika received her MSW from New York University. During her time at NYU, she was a Catherine McSilver Fellow, Social Sector Leadership Diversity Fellow (SSLD), Social Justice and Diversity Committee Member and a founding member of the Black Women’s Social Work Coalition. She also presented at the first annual Social Justice and Diversity conference where she presented, #Hashtag Age of Trauma. She is committed to supporting individuals and communities to reconnect with themselves by empowering their agency, autonomy, and voice. In 2020, she co-founded Rooted, a wellness start up, committed to providing culturally responsive care. Rooted utilizes an integrative approach to care by providing mental health treatment and reproductive care to disrupt Black infant and maternal mortality.

Anika is committed to uplifting marginalized communities and pushing past the status quo to provide radical and sustainable change that honors the power of individuals lived experiences and personal narratives.