Emre Umucu, Ph.D., the project’s director and assistant professor of rehabilitation counseling
The U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) has awarded The University of Texas at El Paso’s Master of Rehabilitation Counseling (MRC) program $1 million to increase the number of rehabilitation counselors in the Paso del Norte region
The grant will provide 50 scholarships for underrepresented students in the MRC program to boost the number of rehabilitation counselors in both state and federal vocational rehabilitation programs in Texas and New Mexico.
“This grant comes at a crucial time,” said Shafik Dharamsi, Ph.D., dean of the College of Health Sciences, which houses the MRC program. “It enables the College of Health Sciences to grow the health care work force by increasing the type of graduates that are so desperately needed in this region to serve individuals with disabilities and chronic health conditions. We are the only education program in the region to produce the next generation of rehabilitation counselors whose work is so critical to improving the quality of life and well-being of our communities.”
UTEP’s MRC program prepares students to become effective rehabilitation counselors who help individuals with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities achieve their personal, social, and vocational goals.
MRC graduates are placed readily in facilities in El Paso and throughout the region such as the Texas Workforce Commission, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and many other mental health and rehabilitation service agencies.
Ten scholarships will be awarded each year over the next five years starting in 2020. Scholarships will cover students’ tuition and provide a stipend for related program expenses.
In addition to their studies, recipients will have the opportunity to attend local and national rehabilitation counseling conferences. They also will be required to participate in an internship at a federal-state rehabilitation counseling service agency or a community rehabilitation and mental health agency.
“Through the support of RSA, the MRC program will continue to increase the awareness of rehabilitation counseling services, increase the professionalization of the service providers and corresponding agencies, and ultimately, increase the capacity of the community to support the independent living, employment, psychosocial adjustment, and full inclusion of persons with chronic health conditions and disabilities in our region,” said Emre Umucu, Ph.D., the project’s director and assistant professor of rehabilitation counseling. Veronica Estala-Gutierrez and Chuling Lo are the project’s co-directors.