Faculty lands $1 million grant to support scholarships in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Program
Author: Jillian Daley
Posted: October 1, 2019
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $1 million grant to the Portland State University College of Education (COE) Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Program (CLRC) to provide students with scholarships.
The five-year grant will allow the CLRC to continue to offer scholarships as it has for 25 of the past 31 years, helping more than 100 students with tuition in the past decade alone. This year, 39 students are enrolled in CLRC, and scholarships will help 35 students over the next five years.

COE Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Tina Anctil said she is pleased to receive the grant again, as it has such a strong impact on students and on the program itself.

“Breaking down financial barriers allows us to recruit a more diverse student body,” Anctil said.

At the CLRC, the scholarship application is released annually in May, and awards are announced in June. The CLRC is a 90-credit master’s program that trains counselors to support people who experience disabilities or chronic illnesses and may need guidance in adapting to challenges and changes in their lives, including with family and work. Clients may also need aid with navigating social and environmental barriers that may be new to them, said Rana Yaghmaian, an assistant professor of counselor education and the CLRC program coordinator.

“The CRC program has a strong representation of students with disabilities. Folks who have personal, lived experience with disability are often drawn to this program so they can serve and empower their own communities,” Yaghmaian said.

The Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Training Program provides grants in areas including scholarships at colleges and universities to meet a historical need in vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies, Anctil explained. Scholarship recipients must meet terms such as completing an internship at a public vocational rehabilitation agency, including the Oregon Commission for the Blind and Oregon VR.

Also, after graduating, scholarship recipients must commit two years of employment for every year of financial assistance at a VR agency or an affiliated agency, including a private practice accepting VR agency referrals. This type of opportunity supports CLRC graduates, who have a more than 90 percent employment rate.

Having this grant-funded scholarship has certainly meant a great deal to CLRC student Sofia Jasani, and has already opened up other opportunities before her graduation.

"By relieving some of the financial burden of graduate school, the RSA grant has given me more freedom to spend my time and energy pursuing meaningful activities like volunteering, serving in leadership roles, attending conferences, and supporting Dr. Yaghmaian in her research," said Jasani, Oregon Counseling Association secretary and Chi Sigma Iota Chapter president. "I'm so grateful because I've developed personally and professionally from these experiences, and I might not have had the opportunity if I had to continue working full-time during school."

She added that winning the grant award "is a testament to Dr. Anctil and Dr. Yaghmaian's commitment to excellence in our field."

"I hope these resources will help attract more diverse candidates who are passionate about serving people with chronic illness and disability into the profession," Jasani said.

Photo: COE Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Tina Anctil, left, and Rana Yaghmaian, an assistant professor of counselor education and the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Program (CLRC) program coordinator, succeeded in obtaining a grant worth $1 million to support student scholarships in the CLRC. Photo by Jillian Daley

For stories on the College of Education, email Jillian Daley.