Graduate student wins fellowship to pursue mental health counseling for youth


A passionate graduate student from Warwick is one step closer to her dream of providing mental health counseling to minority communities – with a fellowship of up to $10,000 from the NBCC Foundation, an affiliate of the National Board for Certified Counselors.

The NBCC Minority Fellowship Program Mental Health Counselling-Master’s is awarded to applicants across the nation who wish to pursue mental health counseling for minority demographics.

Maranda Marie Orlando, a recipient of this fellowship who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in mental health at Rhode Island College, plans to devote her career to providing mental health counseling to youth. She is on track to graduate in May, and hopes to attain her counselor’s license after earning her degree. With the financial support and training provided by the fellowship, her professional work will be expanded in order to cater to the vulnerable youth in need of mental health counseling.

To earn the fellowship, Orlando met a series of qualifications that designated her as a worthy recipient. In addition to receiving recommendation from her department head, Orlando demonstrated extensive knowledge and experience with underserved minority communities in the mental health field. After being selected as one of 30 awardees from more than 400 applicants nationwide, she will continue to improve and expand her skills as she extends her expertise to serve an underrepresented group in her chosen field.

The fellowship year kicked off with the NBCC Foundation’s Bridging the Gap Symposium the week of May 20-24, and will ultimately conclude at the 2020 Symposium the week of May 18-22. 

The fellowship will fund Orlando’s education and provide various training opportunities, such as webinars and conferences. Travel to these training programs will also be funded as part of the fellowship. The ultimate mission of the fellowship is to train mental health professionals who will be sensitive to the needs of minority populations, and to provide counselors with the tools they need in order to administer high quality care and guidance.

Describing youth as a “delicate population,” Orlando hopes that her work will help people address issues while they are still children in order to positively impact them when they reach adulthood.

“Since beginning my position working in home-based services, I have learned the value of providing mental health services within the home and the community,” wrote Orlando in the personal statement she submitted as part of her application in January.  “I have learned about complex trauma and how many different working systems affect a child’s mental health and social-emotional well-being. Furthermore, now that I am in a position where I am working directly with youth with critical mental health needs, I am now committed to this profession and this population more than ever.”

Orlando is one of 30 fellowship recipients selected from across the nation through a competitive application process. This year’s application period, which opened on October 7th, will run until December 15th, 2019. For more information, visit the NBCC Foundation’s web page for scholarships and fellowships at Awardees will be announced by March of 2020.

The fellowship is made possible by a grant to the NBCC Foundation provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.


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