Monday, September 21, 2009

GSU offers scholarships for next generation of rehabilitation counselors

Georgia State University was recently awarded a $750,000 federal grant to train the next generation of vocational rehabilitation counselors, helping to reduce a nationwide shortage in the field.

The grant will pay the educational expenses for graduate students who, upon graduation, are willing to work for a publicly funded agency that assists individuals with disabilities in finding employment.

The funding will support nine full-time graduate students each year for five years who will study in the rehabilitation counseling program, provided by the College of Education’s Department of Counseling and Psychological Services. The scholarships will be awarded starting this fall through GSU’s Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling Scholars Program.

“There is a chronic shortage as well as a huge number of professional rehabilitation counselors retiring; this will do something to address the national shortage,” said Professor Roger Weed, coordinator of the Rehabilitation Counseling Program.

A rehabilitation counselor assists individuals with disabilities to achieve their personal, career and independent living goals in the most integrated settings possible.

The grant was awarded to Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, in collaboration with the College of Education. It is the second award to Georgia State, following a five year award given in 2004.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling Scholars Program at Georgia State is more than just a scholarship, said Deon Locklin, director of the Public and Performance Management Group in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, who co-directs the program with Weed.

“Students are matched with practicing counselors who serve as mentors throughout their program of study,” Locklin said. “They have field experiences with actual rehabilitation clients. We assist with their placement as they near graduation. It’s a comprehensive program that reflects a strong partnership between the university and the public sector.”

The shortage of qualified rehabilitation counselors working in the public vocational rehabilitation sector has reached critical heights. In Georgia alone, 14 percent of counselor positions in the Department of Labor’s vocational rehabilitation program remain open, according to Locklin’s research. This need will be exacerbated as baby boomers age out and retire.

In order to be eligible for the scholarship, candidates must already be admitted to GSU’s Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling graduate program. For each full-time academic year funded by this scholarship, the scholar must work two years in this field. No more than four years will be required for a two-year master's program.

For more information about Georgia State’s Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling graduate program, visit http://education.gsu.edu/main/2506.htm. More information on the Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling Scholars Program is available at http://www.ppmgsu.org/RSA-Scholars.html.

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