Team C.A.S.E.

Team C.A.S.E. (Community-focused Advocacy to Support Equity) is composed of an inspiring group of doctoral and undergraduate students who are unified in their desire to support equity in multiple domains. The doctoral students are all Dr. Case’s advisees within the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program at Purdue University. Below are short bios for current and former team members.


Ellice Kang, M.S. Ed., is a doctoral candidate of counseling psychology in the Department of Educational Studies at Purdue University. She received her B.A. in Psychology at California State University, Fullerton. Her research interests include examining how cultural, racial, and contextual factors impact identity development, overall mental health, and educational success among marginalized populations.

Jaya Bhojwani, M.S.Ed. (she/her), is a Doctoral Candidate in the Counseling Psychology doctoral program at Purdue University. She is from St. Maarten, a small island in the Caribbean. Her research interests broadly focus on the ways in which sociopolitical and cultural components impact identity development, and the impact of multiculturalism on psychosocial development. She is also interested in systems-level interventions and changes, and focusing on alternative model of health and wellness for marginalized communities. In her free time, Jaya enjoys working out, going on walks and hikes, crocheting, and watching tv.

Stephanie Contreras, M.A., (she/her) is a third-year doctoral student in the counseling psychology program. I was born and raised in the Bronx, New York and spent most of my adult years in Philadelphia working as a resiliency specialist/administrator in a high school in North Philadelphia. There, I provided social emotional support for students and trainings to educators on trauma-informed practices. Broadly, my research interests focus on trauma and resilience for adolescents and emerging adults from historically excluded populations. Currently, I am conducting quantitative research investigating the relationship of civic engagement on psychosocial outcomes like sense of belonging, political efficacy, and hope for Black students in Predominantly White Institutions. In the quest for life-work balance, I pursue creative writing, leisure reading, good eats, traveling, hiking, and dancing.

Sergio Maldonado Aguiñiga, M.S. Ed., is of Mexican-descent born and raised in Southern California (Pomona and Fontana). He received his associate’s degree from Moreno Valley College and transferred to California State Polytechnic, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona) where he obtained his B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Political Science. Currently, he is a 5th-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at Purdue University. His research involves examining the therapeutic experiences (e.g., processes and outcomes) of the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated community to identify culturally-relevant practices that facilitate reentry post-incarceration. As a Spanish-English bilingual clinician, he provides therapeutic services to the Latino/a/x and economically marginalized communities in community-based settings. On the weekends, he enjoys listening to rancheras while making carne asadas. He also enjoys bike riding and watching fútbol, boxing, and Franco Escamilla’s stand-up specials.

Abigail Hoxsey, M.A. (she/her) is a doctoral candidate in Counseling Psychology at Purdue University.  She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota and her M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the University of St. Thomas. Her broad research interests include psychology education and training, psychotherapy and supervision processes, and systems-level interventions to promote equity, wellbeing, and justice. She loves traveling, eating dessert, and spending time outdoors.

Viviana Piceno, M.S.Ed., is a 3rd year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology Program at Purdue University. She is a Latina who was born and raised in California. Viviana attended California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona) where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Spanish. Her research interests include investigating psychosocial variables, such as belongingness and cultural identity, impacting underrepresented students’ academic process and exploring interventions (i.e. positive psychology and community participatory research) improving resilience within underrepresented communities. On her free time, she enjoys playing with her puppy, watching tv, and reading romcoms.

Nokwanda (Kwanda) is from Durban, South Africa, and is currently in her fourth year of the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. She completed her BA in Counseling Psychology from the University of South Africa before earning her MS in Child Development from Michigan State University. Her passion lies in decolonized community work where she works alongside communities and community-based organizations particularly in South Africa to identify solutions to problems faced by vulnerable children and families. Kwanda remains very active in her South African community, working with orphaned and vulnerable children in various settings including orphanages, residential foster care, preschools, community centers, and schools. Kwanda’s past research looked into indigenous parenting values, traditions, and mores within the context of South Africa. Most recently, Kwanda has been studying indigenous African conceptions of healing and wellbeing, specifically, looking into systems of healing as conceptualized by indigenous communities within the South African context. Outside of her studies, she enjoys hiking, spending time with family, especially her nephews and nieces, and being in nature.


Kayla Neal (she/her) is a fourth-year undergraduate student from South Bend, IN currently majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology at Purdue University. Kayla’s involvement with Purdue’s Honors College brought her to Team C.A.S.E through programs such as the Alfred DeVito Scholars program and the OUR Scholar program, assisting on projects working with community-based organizations that serve marginalized communities. Her research interests include literacy education and educational equity for underserved students. In her free time, she loves to play piano, read, and go on long walks with friends and/or dogs. 



Eileen Joy, PhD, graduated in 2022 after completing her internship with the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. She is from Queens, NY originally and earned her BS in psychology from Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland and her MA in clinical psychology from Washburn University in Kansas. Her research uses quantitative and qualitative methods to examine therapy processes and outcomes in the context of economic and cultural factors. Her work attends to how we can 1) improve access to evidence-based treatments for underserved populations as well as 2) improve folks’ ability to stay in and benefit from mental health care while recognizing their cultural and economic contexts. After graduating she joined the VA Puget Sound MIRECC in Seattle as a research fellow and is also continuing her clinical work with their PTSD outpatient clinic. She loves hanging out with her dog Sherlock, eating, and traveling cheaply (i.e., camping).