Menomonie, Wis. – Jamie Stillion, recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stout Online Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling Programrecently received the 2022 Rehabilitation Graduate Student of the Year Award from the National Council on Rehabilitation Education.
Stillion, a vocational rehabilitation specialist at Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Servicesmanages a mixed caseload of adults and transitioning high school students, serving a mostly rural area in Claremore, Okla.
Professor DeLeana Strohl has nominated Stillion for the NCRE Award, which recognizes a master’s student who has demonstrated outstanding service, leadership, advocacy, and research contributions in rehabilitation or with people with disabilities .
“It’s a very competitive field, so it really speaks to Jamie’s professionalism and dedication to those she serves, her leadership activities, her totality of accomplishments and her approach to serving clients,” said said Strohl.
“I have been an educator for 20 years. During my tenure, I have witnessed an array of stellar rehab professionals enrolled in graduate programs. However, Jamie moves into a category that I have never experienced. She embodies service in her role,” Strohl added.
NCRE’s annual conference and awards luncheon was held in April at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina in San Diego.
CNRE is dedicated to quality services for people with disabilities through education and research.
A holistic approach to customer care
Stillion guides clients through all aspects of vocational rehabilitation, including application, assessment, vocational training and placement, and career success.
In her appointment letter, Strohl described Stillion’s holistic approach as she provides counseling to people with disabilities to help them understand their interests, skills and abilities, while developing coping skills and understanding the impact of disability on employment.
Stillion works with local school district special education departments to coordinate arrangements for high schools engaged in pre-employment transition services and also visits schools in his spare time to work with students.
“Jamie is always finding ways to increase and improve services to his students. She has found more success with students when she takes a more active role,” Strohl said. “Jamie is always planning and collaborating to find solutions and bring people together to meet the needs of those in his workload.”
In January, Stillion worked with the superintendent, principal, director of special education, and teachers to devise a plan with the Salina Chamber of Commerce and local businesses to create employment opportunities for students.
Along with a licensed professional counselor, Stillion also co-directs a group for people who are in various stages of addiction recovery. The group grew out of an assignment in his group counseling course, where students were tasked with developing a group after participating in a group themselves.
“I knew there was a need for local groups dealing with addiction because the only options available were those with a religious theme,” Stillion said. “Not everyone necessarily wants to participate, and others just don’t find them effective.
“I developed a group designed on that premise, but I wanted to take it a step further and implement it, especially for people involved with probation officers and required to attend group meetings,” he said. -she adds.
Stillion approached the probation officer in the area she covers for approval, as well as approval from the officer’s supervisors. She then spoke to an LPC who she knew had extensive experience in addiction counseling and who could volunteer on Saturday mornings to help.
“She agreed to co-lead the band with me,” Stillion said. “We started with 12 people on probation in January. Since that time we have added another group of people who are not on probation but want group support to maintain their sobriety. To this day, we have both groups meeting weekly. »
Service and leadership go hand in hand
Strohl believes that Stillion’s service intersects with her leadership, as she provided members of her MSRC program cohort with professional consultation and encouraged them to think more deeply.
“When Jamie first entered our program at Stout, it quickly became apparent that she would be the leader of the cohort, and she consistently went above and beyond as the leader of her cohort,” Strohl said. .
Stillion also provided support to his cohort after a member died by suicide, Strohl added.
For Stillion, service to others and leadership go hand in hand. “When we serve others, we help them learn the skills to not only succeed in employment, which is our ultimate goal, but they also learn valuable skills that will help them succeed in life,” said Stillion.
“I see it as part of leading by example. The best leaders don’t tell others what to do, but rather lead them to do it, with the end goal of developing other leaders. They praise in public and correct in private while giving credit to others and taking responsibility themselves,” she added.
Stillion was nominated by faculty and peers as Outstanding Student Leader of the Year. She was recognized, along with more than 100 students, at the annual leadership awards on May 4.
Stillion graduated from UW-Stout with her third master’s degree on May 7. She also holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia Southern University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix-Hawaii campus, as well as a bachelor of science degree in health care administration from Columbia University. from South.
UW Stout is Polytechnic University of Wisconsinwith a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes.