School of Social Work

Social Work Peer Mentors

Picture of Kristen Thornton

Kirsten Thornton is a second year MSW student from Seattle, Washington. She graduated from the University of Washington in 2011 with a Bachelors of Arts Degree in English and African and African Diaspora Studies. Kirsten volunteers with Hawaii's Vice Speaker's office, interns with the C.H.O.W Project, is the 2013-2014 Vice President of the United Nations Club here on campus.  She is also involved with many other clubs at HPU. Kirsten's social work interests are racial justice, social policy, youth development and education, and international social work.  Her email address is:

Photo of Samantha Davidson

Samantha “Sam” Davidson is a second year MSW stationed here in Hawaii with her husband and two dogs from Virginia. Her undergraduate educational background is in psychology and her professional background is working with children and adults in the mental health field. During her first year practicum at HPU, she worked at Castle Medical Center and gained knowledge of the healthcare system as well as discharge planning in the field of home care, placement and hospice care. Sam’s social work interests include LBGTQ equality, military social work and enjoying the unique experiences of living in Hawaii.  Her email address is:

Picture of Sarah Herndon

Sarah Herndon is a second year MSW candidate from Sierra Vista, Arizona. She graduated from the University of Arizona in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology. Sarah serves as a Resident Advisor in the Residence Halls on the Hawaii Loa Campus, volunteers with Camp C.R.E.A.T.E. One Ohana and is involved with several clubs at HPU. During her first year of practicum, Sarah worked at Hawaii International Child, a local adoption agency specializing in domestic and international adoptions, birth parent counseling, and post-placement services.

Sarah's social work interests are LGBTQ advocacy, child welfare, and youth development.  Sarah’s email address is:


Tara Becker is a second year MSW student from the Midwest. She grew up in Cincinnati, OH, and graduated from Loyola University of Chicago in 2008. After graduating, Tara spent two years working in an inner city school in Chicago. Most recently, Tara spent one year volunteering in a women’s community center in Chulucanas, Peru. Tara’s first year practicum site was at Ka Hale Ho‘āla Hou No Nā Wāhine, a community based re-entry program for incarcerated women. One of her favorite parts of learning about social work in Hawaii, is learning to incorporate Hawaiian culture into practice. Tara also loves food, and enjoys trying and cooking all the great foods Hawaii has to offer. Tara’s email address is:

Picture of colleen Zamemba

Colleen Zaremba is a second year MSW candidate originally from Fort Worth, Texas. She graduated from Touro University International in Cypress, California with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration. During her first year practicum at HPU, she worked with the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and gained knowledge in policy work, community engagement efforts, and intervention and preventative measures for domestic violence at the Marco level. Colleen is involved with several clubs here at HPU and enjoys being involved in local events that support the community. Her social work interests include social policy, youth development, domestic violence advocacy, women’s rights and international social work. Her email address is

Chad Watanabe

Chad Watanabe is a second year MSW student from Honolulu, Hawaii.  He graduated from the University of Hawaii with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology.  Chad earned his Master of Science degree in Counseling Psychology from Chaminade University in 2008.  Chad currently works for HPU as an Undergraduate Academic Advisor working with students majoring in social work, sociology, social science, psychology, humanities, and theater.  Chad’s social work interests include LGBTQ equity, medical social work, and mental health.  In his spare time, he likes to sleep in late, eat Korean food, and spend time with friends.  His email address is:  

My name is Danielle Allen and I grew up on Long Island, New York.  I received my undergraduate degrees in Human Development and Philosophy at SUNY Binghamton in New York.  My social work interests include international social work, mental health, youth, and forensic social work.  I have also recently begun exploring a passion in nutrition and its connections to social justice.  My email address is
Photo of Brenda Duncan

Hello my name is Brenda Duncan.  I am a wife, mother and army veteran.  I am currently a senior at Hawaii Pacific University and pursuing a master’s in Social Work. I have my bachelor’s in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from the University of South Alabama.  I will be graduating this fall and will test for my licensure. 

My ultimate goal is to receive my clinical license and rejoin the Army as a social worker.  I love working in the mental health field and have over 5 years experience.  I also have experience in domestic violence and community based case management.  I love helping people and giving them the tools they need to help in their lives.