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Milligan student presents research at US Capitol

Recent Milligan graduate Collin Prusak presented his research on school-based mental health in Washington, D.C., along with Dr. Rebecca Sapp, a counseling, psychology and social work professor at the college.

MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. (May 24, 2017)—Despite a divisive political landscape in Washington, D.C., a Milligan College student was inspired by his recent trip to the U.S. Capitol.

Collin Prusak presented his research on the effectiveness of school-based mental health to U.S. House and Senate politicians and their staff at the 2017 Posters on the Hill conference, sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research. In addition, he also got to meet one-on-one with Senator Bob Corker and U.S. Representative Dr. Phil Roe and discuss his research, which focused on the effectiveness of the mental health interventions at Indian Trail Intermediate School in Johnson City, Tennessee.

“I have a voice and a desire to create change,” said Prusak, from Houston, Texas. “This opportunity not only allowed me to rediscover my passion for the mental healthcare field, but it gave me the tools to communicate why that field is so important.”

Dr. Rebecca Sapp, director of Milligan’s counseling center and associate professor of counseling, psychology and social work, accompanied Prusak on this trip and mentored him through his research project, which was one of 60 presentations accepted out of over 300 submissions across the nation at Posters on the Hill.

Sapp is actively involved in local mental health treatment. She currently is supervising therapists and case managers working in the HEROES program at Frontier Health, a school-based mental health support for all Johnson City Schools, including Indian Trail Intermediate School.

Funding for mental healthcare programs in schools has ramped up over the years in the wake of tragic school shootings, like Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook.

Prusak’s interest in this field was inspired by his sister, who has Down Syndrome. He said he wished she could have received the care that students are receiving now at a school like Indian Trail.

Sapp explained that the big takeaway for an experience like this for Prusak was not only learning about the field of mental healthcare, but learning how policy-making works in government and how to be an advocate.

“Because he was able to meet with Senator Corker, and for an extended period with Representative Roe, Collin realized that his voice does make a difference, that mental health issues matter and that he has a say in how our government operates.”

Prusak plans to continue his study of mental health issues this fall in Milligan’s Master of Science in Counseling program.

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MILLIGAN COLLEGE is a Christian liberal arts college in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The college offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan College, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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