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Rehabilitation professor to head national organization

June 3, 2010

KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University professor has been chosen president-elect of the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association and will assume that organization's presidency in 2011.

NRCA's new second-in-command is Dr. Jennipher Wiebold, associate professor of blindness and low vision studies.

The NRCA is the largest national organization representing practicing rehabilitation counselors. It helps advance the profession by promoting public understanding, setting ethical standards, and establishing supportive programs that assist all persons with disabilities in becoming self-sufficient and contributing members of society.

A certified rehabilitation counselor, Wiebold coordinates WMU's dual master's program in rehabilitation counseling and rehabilitation teaching, which is offered through the departments of Blindness and Low Vision Studies and of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology.

A special feature of that program is its immersion feature. Students go through the same regular sequence of classes that people go through when attending the Michigan Commission for the Blind, which is situated almost directly across from WMU's College of Health and Human Services Building. They live at the commission as though they are actual clients and keep their blindfolds on throughout the experience.

Wiebold is an expert in employment, independent living, and quality of life factors among individuals with disabilities. She is her second year of co-directing a three-year $546,000 state grant to create a model program for recruiting rehabilitation counselors.

Michigan Rehabilitation Services, a bureau within the state Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth awarded the grant to WMU's Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology to establish a Rehabilitation Internship-Employment Recruitment Model Program.

The project will provide funded internship experiences with MRS for students in rehabilitation counseling programs at WMU, Michigan State University, Wayne State University and Northern Illinois University. MRS will recruit those who complete the internship program to fill entry-level rehabilitation counselor positions.

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Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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