Mount Mary University will strive to expand diversity in the field of counseling thanks to a $2.6 million grant from the federal Health Resources and Service Administration.

The grant money will establish a scholarship program for master's students pursuing a degree in counseling. The program, called the Succeed Scholars Program, will offer 25 scholarships annually for four years to underrepresented students in the school's Clinical Mental Health Counseling masters program.

Dean of the School of Natural and Health Sciences Cheryl Bailey said a "very high" number of Mount Mary students are from Milwaukee and work in the city after they graduate. The school considered the counseling and diversity necessities of Milwaukee during the grant application process, she said.

"We are providing Milwaukee with Milwaukee's needs," she said, adding that Milwaukee has a high number of under-served populations, and Mount Mary aims to fill gaps in counseling.

Aside from the financial assistance, students will receive support like targeted recruitment efforts, tutoring, specialized exam preparation and empathy training through the new program.

Bailey said the extra support follows the school's template and mindset of students having a sense of belonging and, in turn, maintains high retention rates, no matter the degree program.

Director of the graduate program in counseling, Carrie King, Ph.D., will oversee the project and will serve as director of the Succeed Scholars program. Counseling faculty member Tammy Scheidegger, Ph.D. serves as co-investigator and will help coordinate placement of graduates from the program in areas of high need.

The new program will begin in this fall and will last for four years.

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