To help combat the opioid crisis, Millersville University students who are interested in becoming experts in addiction and recovery will receive $840,000 in scholarships, thanks to a grant from the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration. Dr. Alex Redcay, assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Millersville University, is the principal investigator on the $1.35 million three-year grant and says the bulk of the money is for our students.
The majority of the grant is 84 scholarships for $10,000 each to Millersville students enrolled in the Master of Social Work (MSW) or the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) starting this fall and lasting for three years.
“The grant will alleviate the financial burden for our students, while at the same time providing the opportunity to receive specialized knowledge and to develop their expertise in addiction; prevention, treatment and recovery,” says Redcay. “We’ll also be developing new curriculum for classes to expand the students’ knowledge on addiction. Our community is in desperate need for professionals who understand the disease of addiction and how to help, not hinder, recovery efforts. Our students will come out with marketable skills and jobs!”
While the grant title is “Opioid Workforce Expansion Program” Redcay says it’s not just about opioids. “It’s about all addictions. We want to meet the needs of the community,” says Redcay. “
“Supporting a vibrant regional economy by educating and training a skilled workforce is a top priority for Millersville University,” says President Daniel Wubah. “As part of our public mission, we must continue to respond to the needs of our community by reducing costs and developing new academic programs that contribute directly to the demand for a highly qualified workforce. This program enables us to accomplish that goal.”
“Social workers don’t make a lot of money,” says Redcay. “They get into the area because they want to help others. Since they don’t get paid a lot of money, they have a rare opportunity to get a $10,000 scholarship so they can worry less about loans and can focus on helping others.”
The first scholarships will be given out this fall to eligible students. “We want MSW and DNP students who are interested in working in the addiction field to apply,” says Redcay. “We are very interested in students, or potential students, who are in recovery. We’ll work with that person because they understand the field better than others.”
Dr. Kelly Kuhns, associate professor and chair of nursing is the co-principal investigator with Redcay. “The grant will allow our DNP students to acquire a placement/internship related to addiction,” said Kuhns. “They may be placed in police departments, so when a call comes in about an addicted person it becomes not just a criminal justice matter, but a treatment matter as well.”
Other faculty involved with the grant include Drs. Marc Felizzi, associate professor of social work; Laura Granruth, assistant professor of social work; and Karen Rice, associate professor and chair of social work. Also assisting will be Tammy Carson, Millersville’s social work field coordinator.
In addition to the scholarships, the grant will pay for three training events per semester related to prevention, treatment and recovery and a new program coordinator to schedule and arrange the events. The events will be for the scholarship recipients and the community. “We will have trainers to help our students become experts in addiction recovery to the best of their ability.,” says Redcay.
The proposal was submitted in April and Millersville was notified that the grant was awarded on August 8th. Redcay worked closely with Dr. Rene Munoz, director of sponsored programs and research administration, to meet the April deadline. “Rene definitely deserves credit,” says Redcay. “He did the second most amount of work to secure this grant; he helped me write it and sat with me for 12 hours on the day it was due to finalize it. I am so grateful for his expertise in grant writing. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have gotten this grant. I can’t say enough about Rene, he’s smart, talented and a nice, easy person to work with.”
“I’ve written five or six grant proposals before, but this is the first $1 million award” says Redcay. “I feel like I won the lottery on behalf of our students. It feels great.”