COPA program awarded $200,000 to address statewide counselor shortages

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ATLANTA — Mercer University’s College of Professional Advancement received a nearly $200,000 Rehabilitation Services Administration Long-Term Training (RSA LTT) grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help address personnel shortages faced by vocational rehabilitation agencies in Georgia. The grant funds scholarships, professional development and additional expenses for qualifying students pursuing a M.S. degree in clinical rehabilitation counseling.

Dr. Suneetha Manyam

“We are honored to receive the extension of this terrific grant,” said the project’s director, Dr. Suneetha Manyam, professor of counseling. “We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of the 74 scholars and graduates who benefitted from these grants for nearly a decade.”

Dr. Manyam went on to say that many of the program’s graduates and scholars are doing research and serving as leaders and supervisors in various private and state rehabilitation agencies.

The RSA grant supports the College’s commitment to educating and developing rehabilitation counselors, especially those who closely reflect the diverse population of the country, region and state, to address the statewide shortages of counselors faced by vocational rehabilitation agencies.

Dr. Kristina Henderson

The College initially received a five-year, $956,956 RSA grant in 2015, which resulted in the successful recruitment and training of 40 RSA Scholars. A second $984,963 five-year grant was awarded in 2019, funding scholarships for another cohort of RSA Scholars.

“I am incredibly proud to watch our students and alumni grow in the rehabilitation counseling field,” said Assistant Professor of Counseling and Program Coordinator for the M.S. in clinical rehabilitation counseling Dr. Kristina Henderson. “They are making a difference, and the RSA grant makes that possible for many of them. We are thrilled that RSA recognizes the work we are doing here and is rewarding it with extra funding.”

The M.S. degree in clinical rehabilitation counseling is offered in a blended in-person and virtual format on the Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus in Atlanta. Graduating students qualify for employment by the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency and other disability-related agencies in the state.

M.S. clinical rehabilitation counseling students including RSA Scholars, (front Row L-R) Rebecca Abernathy, Jarred Schmitz, Avery Langston, Kristina Henderson, Ashley Rachel, Precious Futch, Suneetha Manyam, Callie Dow, LaTosha Sims, (back row L-R) Jamillah Stewart, Philip Niekro, Lydell Smith, Damani Bailey, Kaitlyn Pittmon. Photo by Todd McRae.

About the College of Professional Advancement

Mercer University’s College of Professional Advancement is committed to serving post-traditional learners. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary experiences that integrate theory and practice. In addition to providing general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer, the College of Professional Advancement offers degree programs in areas including technology, public safety, public and human services, leadership and administration, health care and liberal arts. Programs are offered on Mercer’s campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as Regional Academic Centers in Douglas County and Henry County, and online. To learn more, visit