The United States Department of Education recently awarded two five-year grants totaling $1.75 million to Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) to address a national shortage of rehabilitation counselors who work with deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
The grants will cover the cost of tuition, stipends, and professional development activities for students in WSSU’s Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling (MSRC) program. MSRC is one of only three programs in the nation that trains rehabilitation counselors to work with these populations and is the only deaf and hard of hearing rehabilitation counseling program in the Southeast.
Over the past 15 years, MSRC has produced more than 300 graduates of which 95 percent go on to work for state vocational rehabilitation services or other qualifying agencies, according to Yolanda Edwards, PhD, who serves as department chair, program coordinator, and professor for MSRC.
As a historically Black research institution, many of WSSU’s MSRC graduates are African American or from other underrepresented groups, thus filling a need for counselors who share their patients’ racial and cultural identities. Edwards also told WSSU News and Information that the grants will prepare students to serve members of other underrepresented groups, such as those who reside in rural areas, where there is a dearth of options for these types of specialty services.
Ginger O’Donnell is the assistant editor for INSIGHT Into Diversity. This article ran in the January/February 2020 issue.