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Scholars

Meet the 2021–2022 Military and Rural Scholars

Military Scholars

Declan Harris – Nashville, Tennessee

Declan Harris – Nashville, Tennessee

As a military scholarship recipient, Harris will receive $8,000 to support his counseling education and recognize his commitment to underserved communities. Harris is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Vanderbilt University.

Upon graduation, Harris wants to serve individuals, particularly veterans, who have dealt with complex trauma throughout their lives. From his experience in the Army, he understands the healing power of human connection and community. With this scholarship, Harris wants to strengthen his professional identity by attending professional counseling conferences and seeking opportunities to develop as a mental health provider. Additionally, he will establish a robust network of like-minded professionals that can help the veteran community.


Scott Jenson – Tampa, Florida

Scott Jenson – Tampa, Florida

As a military scholarship recipient, Jenson will receive $8,000 to support his counseling education and recognize his commitment to underserved communities. Jenson is a graduate of Sanford-Brown College and is both a graduate of and currently a master’s student in the rehabilitation and mental health counseling program at the University of Tampa.

Upon graduation, Jenson intends to work in the Veteran’s Administration (VA) network with a focus on veteran mental health, wellness, and rehabilitation. He would also like to continue to work with veterans suffering from PTSD in non-governmental treatment settings such as veteran service organizations (VSO) and extended brief intensive therapy (EBIT) retreats. Earning this scholarship will allow him to continue his current non-profit work while completing his educational program and licensure and will also allow him to train in additional evidence-based therapeutic skillsets that can be applied to veteran treatment in both clinical and non-traditional settings.


Albert Jimenez – San Antonio, Texas

Albert Jimenez – San Antonio, Texas

As a military scholarship recipient, Jimenez will receive $8,000 to support his counseling education and recognize his commitment to underserved communities. Jimenez is a graduate of Northwest Vista College and is both a graduate of and currently a master’s student in the clinical and mental health counseling program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Upon graduation, Jimenez intends to work with veterans, law enforcement officers, and first responders. He would like to specialize in addiction and post-traumatic stress counseling. Earning this scholarship will also allow him to attend counseling conferences to establish a stronger professional identity as a counselor.


Joseph Makouske – Salt Lake City, Utah

Joseph Makouske – Salt Lake City, Utah

As a military scholarship recipient, Makouske will receive $8,000 to support his counseling education and recognize his commitment to underserved communities. Makouske is a graduate of Marquette University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical and mental health counseling program at Westminster College.

Upon graduation, Makouske intends to work with veterans in the outdoor behavioral health field. His interests lie in providing engaging treatment designed to address many of the barriers to care veterans experience that lead to low initiation and retention rates. Earning this scholarship will provide him with the opportunity to further develop his professional identity, receive mentorship in his areas of interest, and expand his clinical competencies to better serve the veteran community.


Laura Shepard – Seneca, South Carolina

Laura Shepard – Seneca, South Carolina

As a military scholarship recipient, Shepard will receive $8,000 to support her counseling education and recognize her commitment to underserved communities. Shepard is a graduate of the College of Saint Rose and SUNY Albany and is currently a master’s student in the clinical and mental health counseling program at Malone University.

Upon graduation, Shepard intends to work with veterans and their families to offer mental health counseling services to those in need. Earning this scholarship has provided her the opportunity to continue in her graduate program that will eventually lead to her becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of South Carolina where there is currently an underserved population in need of quality mental health counseling.


Jeanne Sterling – Carencro, Louisiana

Laura Shepard – Seneca, South Carolina

As a military scholarship recipient, Sterling will receive $8,000 to support her counseling education and recognize her commitment to underserved communities. Sterling holds an MBA from University of Phoenix and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Capella University.

After retiring from the military, she realized her life’s work would be to help veterans deal with trauma, family reintegration, sexual assault, and any other invisible wounds that she could be trained to help with. Sterling is the biggest supporter and cheerleader of veterans and their families, as she understands the challenges, having walked the path as a soldier and spouse of a resolute Army soldier who spent many years away from his wife and children serving his country.

Sterling plans to continue and complete her education, attend mental health conferences, and join counseling organizations that will give her access to opportunities to be an astute veteran advocate. Upon graduation, Sterling plans to partner with the Veterans Administration to assist in serving the veteran community to bring them resources, information, and treatment, which will allow them to thrive in daily life.


Rural Scholars

Allison Gerdes – Brookings, South Dakota

Allison Gerdes – Brookings, South Dakota

As a rural scholarship recipient, Gerdes will receive $8,000 to support her counseling education and recognize her commitment to underserved communities. Gerdes is a graduate of the University of La Crosse-Wisconsin and is currently a master’s student in the clinical and mental health counseling program at South Dakota State University.

After graduating, Gerdes plans to work with children and adolescents, especially those who have experienced trauma or are on the autism spectrum. She will serve rural communities by providing play therapy, as well as other modalities, to areas that are lacking mental health resources. She is passionate about both rural and child populations, so this award will grant her the opportunity to explore both. As a recipient of this award, Gerdes will be able to learn from experts in the profession while developing herself professionally and exploring her areas of interest more directly. She is excited and grateful for this unique opportunity.


Kelley Gutierrez – Stratford, Oklahoma

Kelley Gutierrez – Stratford, Oklahoma

As a rural scholarship recipient, Gutierrez will receive $8,000 to support her counseling education and recognize her commitment to underserved communities. Gutierrez is both a graduate of and currently a master’s student in the clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling program at East Central University.

Upon graduation, Gutierrez intends to work with individuals with disabilities in rural communities where access to services is limited. She has a particular interest in providing affirming vocational rehabilitation counseling to those who identify in the gender and sexual/affectional minority spectrum. Additionally, she will continue her advocacy and outreach to provide positive and affirming support to the LGBTQ2IA+ community through her volunteer work. Earning this scholarship will allow Gutierrez to attend conferences, establish a stronger professional identity as a counselor, network with professionals and other scholars, and advocate for the counseling profession. Additionally, this will allow her to learn evidence-based practices to better serve marginalized populations.


Cathrese Michelle Jackson – Bamberg, South Carolina

Cathrese Michelle Jackson – Bamberg, South Carolina

As a rural scholarship recipient, Jackson will receive $8,000 to support her counseling education and recognize her commitment to underserved communities. Jackson is a graduate of Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and South Carolina State University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Walden University.

Upon graduation, Jackson intends to serve abused and neglected youth, but since there is a large need for counseling services in her community, she does not want to limit herself to just youth. Her specialization in marriage, couple, and family counseling will equip her with the tools to counsel a variety of those in her community who have need. Earning this scholarship will allow her to continue her education and become a robust counselor that can better assist underserved clients in her community.


Stacia H. Langille – Boscawen, New Hampshire

Stacia H. Langille – Boscawen, New Hampshire

As a rural scholarship recipient, Langille will receive $8,000 to support her counseling education and recognize her commitment to underserved communities. Langille is a graduate of New Hampshire Technical Institute and Plymouth State University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Antioch University.

Upon graduation, Langille intends to work with clients at her horse farm, Ancora Imparo Equine Center, located in Boscawen. She is particularly interested in multicultural competencies, especially providing affirming counseling services for neurodiverse and LGBTQIA+ individuals in her rural community. Her lifetime experience in this environment supports the creation of nontraditional therapeutic spaces to better serve diverse and rural clientele who may see common office environments as disregulating. This scholarship will dramatically decrease financial pressures related to her education as she raises her child and transitions from her current career as a farrier into providing mental health services at her growing equine therapeutic facility.


Rachel Marie Olivanti – Virginia, Minnesota

Rachel Marie Olivanti – Virginia, Minnesota

As a rural scholarship recipient, Olivanti will receive $8,000 to support her counseling education and recognize her commitment to underserved communities. Olivanti is a graduate of Mesabi Community College and St. Cloud State University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Capella University.

Upon graduation, she would like to continue to serve clients located on the Iron Range, Minnesota. This is a population near and dear to her heart, as she grew up there and moved back in 2013. Her goal is to serve clients in this population who are struggling with trauma and PTSD. She currently works as an LADC (Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor) who facilitates co-occurring groups as the Treatment Director at her facility. Earning the rural scholarship will help her pay for school, which will allow her to invest in additional training in trauma-informed care, EMDR, and other similar specialties.


Lillie Williams – Bolivia, North Carolina

Lillie Williams – Bolivia, North Carolina

As a rural scholarship recipient, Williams will receive $8,000 to support her counseling education and recognize her commitment to underserved communities. Williams is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Walden University.

Upon graduation, Williams’s focus will be to provide more resources for the rural Brunswick County area with a focus on seniors dealing with emotional and mental health issues. She would like to work closely with local social workers to provide additional or needed support services for the marginalized rural community. Although her main focus is seniors, she will advocate for additional mental health resources for the rural population in her region. Earning this scholarship will also allow her to engage in workshops, conferences, and age-specific training to better advocate and serve seniors and others in her area. She will also learn additional skills that will help her to continue to grow and develop into a competent professional to better serve a marginalized, stigmatized community.