2022-2023 Military and Rural Scholars
Each NBCC Foundation scholar will receive $8,000 to support their counseling education and to recognize their commitment to underserved communities.
Marc Fichtner (he/him) – Lake Worth Beach, Florida
Marc Fichtner is a graduate of Coastal Carolina University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Capella University. Upon graduation from Capella, Fichtner intends to work with veterans and first responders, particularly those who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and those who are transitioning out of their service or careers. Fichtner has a passion to help those who have served the American population both at home and abroad. He intends to use his own experience as both a veteran and first responder to serve the community he cares so much about. This scholarship will allow Fichtner to gain further knowledge in the profession by attending counseling conferences, completing residency, and attending workshops on specialized counseling practices such as EMDR and emerging practices such as psychedelic-assisted therapy. Fichtner believes in a holistic model of counseling and hopes to integrate spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health into his counseling practice.
Francis A. Murillo (she/her) – Johnson City, Tennessee
Francis Murillo is both a graduate of and a current master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at East Tennessee State University. Upon graduation, Murillo intends to work with the veteran population. She would also like to bring awareness to and advocate for veterans in the community and the importance of mental health services and resources for this population. Through this award, Murillo will be able to attend different counseling trainings, make connections, and learn skills that will aid her in serving the veteran community.
Taneisha (Neisha) L. Stephens (she/her) –Nashville, Tennessee
Neisha L. Stephens is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Trevecca Nazarene University. She is a United States Air Force veteran originally from Chicago, Illinois, who relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, in 2005. Stephens earned her undergraduate degree in multi/interdisciplinary studies from Middle Tennessee State University in 2018 and is currently pursuing her master’s in licensed mental health clinical counseling with a scheduled completion date of December 2023. Currently as an Equal Employee Opportunity Assistant at the Department of Veterans Affairs - VA Medical Center, Stephens’s commitment to mental health includes providing a safe space to everyone that she works with regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender or gender identity, age, disability, and/or sexual orientation. Stephens is passionate about working to address the needs of military veterans, families of veterans, and individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic communities. Earning this fellowship will allow her to attend various counseling conferences and trainings to establish a professional identity as a BIPOC, allowing her the opportunity and skill sets to work with people who are often marginalized, such as those from underrepresented ethnic communities and people living in rural areas, where mental health services are typically lacking.
Jeanne Sterling (she/her) – Carencro, Louisiana
Jeanne Sterling holds an MBA from University of Phoenix and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Capella University.
After retiring from the military, she realized her life’s work would be to help veterans deal with trauma, family reintegration, sexual assault, and any other invisible wounds that she could be trained to help with. Sterling is the biggest supporter and cheerleader of veterans and their families, as she understands the challenges, having walked the path as a soldier and spouse of a resolute Army soldier who spent many years away from his wife and children serving his country.
Sterling plans to continue and complete her education, attend mental health conferences, and join counseling organizations that will give her access to opportunities to be an astute veteran advocate. Upon graduation, she plans to partner with Veterans Affairs to assist in serving the veteran community to bring them resources, information, and treatment, which will allow them to thrive in daily life.
Al Yokum (he/him) – Carson City, Nevada
Al Yokum is a graduate of the Community College of Denver and Metropolitain State University of Denver, and he is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Walden University. Upon graduation, Yokum intends to work with military veterans and families, specifically those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He would also work collaboratively with organizations such as NBCC; NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals; the American Counseling Association; and the American Psychological Association to stay abreast of ongoing research. Earning this scholarship will allow him to attend counseling conferences, which will establish a more robust professional identity as a counselor, learn evidence-based practices to serve underserved populations better, and advocate for the counseling profession.
Daphne Deeren – Beulah, Michigan
Daphne Deeren is a graduate of Northwestern Michigan College and Central Michigan University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Spring Arbor University. Upon graduation, Deeren intends to work within a rural community mental health system to facilitate the needs of this underserved population. Deeren would like to specialize in dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy to help individuals working through trauma and complex diagnoses. Earning this scholarship will allow Deeren to attend extra trainings and conferences that provide the education and experiences to meet these goals.
Eli Evans (she/her) – Anchorage, Alaska/New Orleans, Louisiana
Eli Evans is a graduate of Evergreen State College and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Xavier University of Louisiana. Evans is from Anchorage, Alaska, and has lived in northern places her entire life. She is currently living in New Orleans, Louisiana, and is loving finally living someplace warm. Upon graduation, Evans plans on moving back to Alaska to serve rural populations, specifically LGBTQ+ youth. She is honored and grateful to be a part of the NBCC scholarship program.
Crystal Neff (she/her) – Hannibal, Missouri
Crystal Neff is a graduate of Central Bible College and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Grace College. Neff intends to serve the rural populations of Hannibal, Missouri, and surrounding areas upon graduation. Specifically, she is interested in working with teenagers and is considering seeking a position within the schools. Rural life is a new experience for Neff, so she is excited about the training and mentorship provided by this scholarship. She looks forward to leaning into these opportunities to better prepare her to serve the beautiful people of Hannibal. This scholarship will also assist her in establishing supportive professional connections within the counseling profession, which will help her to creatively advocate for access to services in rural areas.