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Walden Magazine // Jan 24, 2013

Commitment to Social Change Scholarship Recipients Announced

Six new students are recognized for their missions to promote social change around the world.

February 2013—In December 2012, Walden University awarded six incoming graduate students the Commitment to Social Change Scholarship. This scholarship recognizes the social change contributions the recipients have already made in their respective fields and ensures they will continue to do more of the same as they work toward their Walden degree.

The next application deadline is April 1, 2013. Read the application criteria.

This doctoral student received $25,000:

Recipient: Susan Caley Opsal
Hometown: La Salle, Ill.
Title: Instructor at Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, Ill.
Program: PhD in Education

Social Change Achievement: Concern about the insufficient number of young people, particularly women, entering science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers in the United States continues to grow. As a female scientist, Susan Opsal addresses this problem by mentoring female students through “STEM camps” she designed to engage girls with scientific activities, including taking apart and putting a computer back together, isolating DNA in household items, and exploring new computer software.

Social Change Goal: To work with school leaders to continue to provide mentoring and enrichment activities for female students in STEM in rural and/or impoverished school districts.

These doctoral students received $5,000 each:

Recipient: Elizabeth Hoo
Hometown: Grayson, Ga.
Title: Health scientist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga.
Program: PhD in Public Health

Social Change Achievement: From 2010 to 2012, Elizabeth Hoo conducted a range of fieldwork for the Department for Public Health in Kentucky, which exposed her to projects that included a health impact assessment of potential coal gasification plants in the Green River District, flood response, a lead-based paint hazard control and healthy homes grant, tornado response, and disease surveillance in the U.S. Virgin Islands. From these projects, she gained a broader view of public health and how to effect positive social change among larger population groups.

Social Change Goal: To improve the overall health of the nation and its populations through effective evidence-based public health interventions.

Recipient: Jeff Lubsen
Hometown: Kansas City, Kan.
Title: Intensive outpatient group counselor at Kansas City Psychiatric and Psychological Services in Independence, Mo., and founder of LGBT-Affirmative Therapists Guild of Greater Kansas City in Kansas City, Mo.
Program: PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

Social Change Achievement: In 2010, Jeff Lubsen formed the LGBT-Affirmative Therapists Guild of Greater Kansas City to make lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender-affirming, culturally competent healthcare available to all sexual minorities. Through research and the establishment of a board of mental health practitioners, Lubsen created a comprehensive online clearinghouse of LGBT-related resources for consumers and practitioners.

Social Change Goal: To continue to research and offer resources about the LGBT community to consumers and practitioners and to nurture an active network of professionals and students to enhance practitioners’ professional growth.

These master’s degree students received $2,500 each:

Recipient: Sylvanus Davies
Hometown: Stafford, Va.
Title: Treasurer and member of the board of directors of Education for Hope in Woodbridge, Va.
Program: Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Social Change Achievement: Sylvanus Davies is driven to support positive social change, both locally and internationally. As the treasurer and a member of the board of directors of the nonprofit Education for Hope, he’s able to positively impact his native country, Sierra Leone. Education for Hope rebuilds dilapidated elementary schools, provides scholarship opportunities to students, and donates books to public libraries to rekindle interest in reading among youth in Sierra Leone. Davies also organized a fundraiser to build a hospital for Hope and New Life Healthcare in Sierra Leone.

Social Change Goal: To enhance his ability to plan, organize, and manage projects of any size to effect positive change in communities around the world.

Rebecca Doberstein

Recipient: Rebecca Doberstein
Hometown: Carrollton, Ga.
Title: Case manager at Impact Counseling and Consulting in Conyers, Ga.
Program: MS in Mental Health Counseling

Social Change Achievement: When Rebecca Doberstein became a survivor of sexual assault at 18, she made it her mission to become a counselor for trauma victims. Work at a senior center led her to present papers at two professional conferences, which led to an opportunity to work as a volunteer victim advocate for the West Georgia Rape Crisis Center. There, she provides crisis intervention and support to victims through a crisis hotline. As a case manager for Impact Counseling and Consulting, she provides emotional support and psychological guidance to youth and their families.

Social Change Goal: To become a licensed trauma counselor and conduct research to reshape how community members respond to victims of sexual assault.

Recipient: Jacqueline Fletcher
Hometown: Olympia, Wash.
Title: First-grade teacher at Evergreen Christian School in Olympia
Program: MS in Education (MSEd)

Social Change Achievement: After attending a seminar to recognize the signs and symptoms of dyslexia more than eight years ago, Jacqueline Fletcher was moved to act. When she couldn’t locate a local tutor to help her students, she completed her own training and became a tutor for students in her community. She also acts as an advisor to teachers and parents to provide materials and access to resources to help them identify and accommodate students with dyslexia.

Social Change Goal: To differentiate curricula to meet the needs of all of her students.