Graduate student Rhadiah Mosley has experience working with people marginalized by society: foster children and the homeless.

Mosley is an expert in trauma — at least, she wants to be.

Currently pursuing a master’s degree in social work, Mosley presented her research at the National Association of Social Workers Texas Chapter conference early October.The theme of this year’s conference was “Leading Change and Transforming Lives.”

Mosley submitted her work, a poster titled “A Neurobiological Perspective of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” as part of the conference’s Student Poster Presentation session, which is designed to give students the opportunity to gain professional research experience. Research may increase the knowledge and awareness social workers need to advocate and provide appropriate treatment, according to Mosley’s poster.

Her presentation examined the effects of trauma on the brain and emphasized the need for improved competence in providing treatment and intervention to those diagnosed with PTSD, as well as more accurate diagnoses of abuse and neglect survivors.

Kiva Harper, assistant professor and Mosley’s faculty sponsor, said her presentation stood out to many and received a lot of positive feedback at the conference. She worked fervently and put in many hours to make it the best it can be, Harper said.

A testimony to Mosley’s drive and ambition is her goal to obtain her doctorate degree and license in clinical social work, the highest license a social worker can get, Harper said.

Mosley’s biggest challenge has been finding a balance among family, school and work, she said. During her time in the program, Mosley has experienced several life changes, including getting married and having a child, but she has maintained a high GPA.

When not completing her course work, Mosley interns at Under 1 Roof, a nonprofit organization working to provide permanent supportive housing and other services to homeless or low-income people.

Mosley is not only hardworking, ambitious and passionate, but also generous with her time and very supportive, said Patricia Quinn, fellow intern and classmate. Mosley has helped her keep track of assignments and graduation requirements.

She is not intimidated by hard work, whether it is her internship or the presentation, Quinn said. Mosley volunteered for tasks others did not want or were unable to complete and rehearsed her presentation with her classmates several times.

“She is very dedicated. She’s very driven,” Quinn said. “Her passion shows, her passion for helping others.”

Mosley said her interest in trauma began when she took a graduate level course studying brain and behavior. She spent nine years working with the foster care system, in which PTSD is common, she said.

Some foster kids lack access to the expertise and resources needed to evaluate and treat them, Mosley said. Professionals must face the challenge of accurately diagnosing and effectively treating these children.

Mosley remembers working with one particular girl who struggled academically and had behavior problems. Professionals had diagnosed her with oppositional defiant disorder, a disorder marked by excessive disruptive behavior. However, upon further evaluation, doctors found the girl suffered from impaired hearing and sight — her previous diagnosis was wrong.

Working with the children, Mosley saw a need for therapists and trauma professionals, so she returned to UTA, where she previously obtained her bachelor’s degree in sociology. Mosley said she wanted to better educate herself and be more qualified to help others.

Through her studies and research, Mosley has discovered that some foster children who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder actually suffer from PTSD, she said.

Social work is a profession crucial to society, she said.

Mosley said she gained a lot of insight from her work with foster children and the homeless, learning empathy and compassion in a way only field work can teach.

@RunReneHua

news-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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