School of Medicine Offers Rehabilitation Scholarships

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The University of South Carolina is offering scholarships to about 40 students who want to earn master’s degrees in rehabilitation counseling and pursue careers helping people with disabilities. The scholarships are made possible through a five-year, $979,030 federal grant to the School of Medicine’s Rehabilitation Counseling Program. The grant is through the U.S. Department of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration and offers merit-based scholarships that cover tuition and fees, and usually provide a stipend to help with textbooks and expenses.


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Those awarded a scholarship must commit to serving in a public rehabilitation agency, such as South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation, for a minimum of two years for every year of funding received. The overall goal of the grant is to expand the number of master’s level professionals in South Carolina, where approximately 80 percent of scholars attain employment.

Rehabilitation counseling is a broad field that helps people with emotional and physical disabilities live independent, fulfilling lives. Students enrolled in the School of Medicine’s two-year master’s program receive training in disability studies, psychology, sociology, medicine and employment issues.

School of Medicine professor Kerry Lachance, who administers the grant along Robert David Dawson, said qualified rehabilitation counselors are in high demand, especially in underserved regions of South Carolina.

“The most successful candidates for this profession are those who can see strengths in people; those who can say ‘I see you had dreams for your life before a disability, let’s see how we can get those dreams back on track,’ ” Lachance said.

The Rehabilitation Counseling Program has a successful history of obtaining Rehabilitation Services Administration grants. Over the past 15 years, it has received grants that include rehabilitation in rural areas, psychiatric rehabilitation and job placement. To date, more than 120 students have participated in the scholars’ program, with many working in clinical and executive leadership positions across the U.S.