Weiss Urban Livability fellow, Shannon Mulloy, and Merit Assistantship awardee, Jenna Brunner, describe their scholarship activities for the 2020-2021 academic year. The fellowship is an initiative of The Graduate School.
“Our division was very grateful to have two of our students receive these important and valuable scholarships. These scholarships provide funding, but importantly also provide activities and interactions that enrich their graduate experience,” noted Eileen Burker, director of the Division of Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling.
Shannon Mulloy – Weiss Urban Livability Fellowship
The Weiss Urban Livability Fellowship is a one-year fellowship that provides funding, learning opportunities, and practical experience to graduate students from various departments who share research interests in improving urban livability. The nine selected fellows participate in seminars twice a month throughout the fall and spring semesters.
As part of her fellowship, master’s degree candidate Shannon Mulloy facilitated a seminar on how mental health, education, and disability impacts urban livability. She utilized a Division of Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling (CRMH) framework to present questions such as “how can we address disparities in public education?” and “what is the relationship between disability and livability in urban settings?”
Describing her fellowship experience, Mulloy noted, “I really enjoyed the opportunity to work together and hear from student experts in their respective fields that I may not have otherwise met. People always brought new and insightful perspectives to the conversation that I don’t think I would have gotten without this experience.”
Mulloy’s research interests lie in creating mental health supports that utilize horticulture and wilderness therapy techniques that are accessible to low-socioeconomic status and minority youth in urban settings. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communication and a master’s degree in sociology from Stanford University where her studies focused on interpersonal relations and social psychology.
Before coming to UNC, Mulloy worked at start-ups in the San Francisco tech industry for three years, but a visit to Hawaii made her realize she wanted to escape the confines of a desk. She joined Pacific Quest, a wilderness therapy program, as a summer-only guide, but quickly fell in love with the work and stayed for two additional years. Most recently, Mulloy worked as a team manager at Equinox RTC, an adventure-based therapeutic program for struggling teenage boys. Upon graduation in 2022, she plans to study and apply holistic, nature-based counseling methods to treat at-risk indigenous youth.
Jenna Brunner – Merit Assistantship
As a Merit Assistantship awardee for the 2020-2021 academic year, master’s degree candidate Jenna Brunner received full tuition and fees, a service-based stipend, and school health insurance for one year. The award has also provided Brunner with the opportunity to work for 10 to 12 hours per week as a graduate assistant within the Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program since last fall.
Brunner is grateful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Dara Chan and other faculty members to gain exposure to the wide variety of important work that they do. She explained, “Throughout the year, I have had the opportunity to create multiple comprehensive continuing education training materials for NC Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors related to co-occurring trauma and substance use disorders, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on counselor burnout and self-care.
“I have also edited manuscripts and performed literature reviews for numerous research studies and have been involved in organizing the CRMH program’s admissions process, where I help facilitate program events such as interview days and student information sessions.”
Brunner graduated from Davidson College with a major in economics in 2017. She then worked in Charlotte, NC as a financial analyst for an investment bank for three years. While living in Charlotte, she interacted with multiple individuals experiencing homelessness. After witnessing firsthand the severity of mental health challenges, accessibility issues, stigma, and discrimination that these individuals face on a daily basis, Brunner decided to help individuals in underserved populations gain access to the mental health care by pursuing a career as a clinical mental health therapist.
Brunner is currently pursuing a master’s in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling and will graduate in May of 2022. Upon graduation, she hopes to become a licensed clinical mental health counselor. Ultimately, she would like to combine her finance and business strategy skills with her counseling skills to found a nonprofit organization that provides mental health care services to underserved, marginalized populations with mental illness.
Eileen Burker, PhD, CRC, is the director of the Division of Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, housed within the Department of Allied Health Sciences. She is a professor in the Department of Allied Health Sciences and an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry.