Graduate student awarded addictions counseling fellowship from national organization

July 25, 2018
Menomonie, Wis. —  A University of Wisconsin-Stout graduate student has been selected to receive a fellowship from the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Megan Schilling, of Ellsworth, who is studying clinical mental health counseling with concentrations in alcohol and substance abuse and dependency and eating disorders, recently received the National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation Minority Fellowship Program-Addictions Counselors fellowship.

Schilling will receive $11,000 and training to support her education and facilitate her addictions counseling service to underserved minority transition-age youth, ages 16 to 25.

The fellowship was one of 33 given to master’s level addiction counseling students.

The goal of the program is reduced health disparities and improved behavioral health care outcomes for racially and ethnically diverse populations by increasing the number of culturally competent behavioral health professionals, according to an NBCC Foundation news release.

Schilling was shocked when she received the fellowship. “I was in joy,” Schilling said. “I remember laughing and then I started to cry. It’s $11,000. That’s a lot of money for me.” 

Schilling, a UW-Eau Claire psychology graduate and an Ellsworth High School graduate, became interested in the mental health field when in high school. “I had the opportunity to have a mentor, who was a family friend, and who worked as a counselor,” Schilling said.  “I was able to ask her questions about her career, and she really inspired me.

“I realized I wanted to be that person who could help others. I had a wonderful experience (at UW-Eau Claire), helpful adviser, and throughout my four years I was able to prep for graduate school. I toured UW-Stout and after the interview, realized this was where I wanted to be.”

This fall Schilling will intern at Lutheran Social Services Exodus House in Hudson and Family Innovations in Maplewood, Minn. Exodus House is a halfway house for adults coping with alcohol and substance abuse. Family Innovations provides outpatient services for skill building and light therapy for youth.

When she graduates in May, Schilling plans to work with at-risk populations that struggle with alcohol and substance abuse and dependency, along with individuals who have co-occurring mental illness diagnoses. She wants to work in Minnesota and western Wisconsin doing in-patient or treatment center work.

Earning the fellowship allows Schilling to attend conferences and seminars to further develop as a professional and advocate in the counseling field. She also will benefit by learning evidence-based practices and techniques that can be applied to better serve individuals at risk.

John Klem, program director and associate professor in the rehabilitation and counseling department, said Schilling is a hard worker who is always seeking to facilitate her growth as a counselor.

“The populations that she wants to work with are very challenging. Most people are unaware of how often substance use disorders and other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia co-occur,” Klem said. “The world likes to treat these as separate issues, but in reality, they are very overlapping.

“People with chronic mental health/substance use disorders have a long history of traumatic experiences in their life. You have to be a very kind and skilled therapist to truly be effective with this population. Megan clearly has the desire and work ethic to be a counselor who could be effective with this group,” Klem said.

The UW-Stout Master of Science degree in clinical mental health counseling offers five concentrations including career counseling; child and adolescent counseling; eating disorders; gerontological counseling; and alcohol and other drug abuse counseling. Student also can develop their own area of specialized expertise, or the program may be completed without a concentration. Learn more at

The NBCC Foundation is the nonprofit affiliate of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), based in Greensboro, N.C.
Pam Powers, University Commmunications