After 15 years as an instructor in the University of South Florida (USF) Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling (CRMHC) program, Dae Sheridan’s name will continue to be recognized by faculty, students, and staff in CRMHC for many, many years to come.
Sheridan, PhD, LMHC, CRC, along with her husband Scott, recently established the Dr. Dae Sheridan Endowed Scholarship to support CRMHC students. Their gift, which includes $25,000 to fund an endowment and $5,000 in support while the endowment grows, will provide scholarships to full- or part-time graduate students pursuing a CRMHC major.
In addition to her years as an instructor, Sheridan is also a two-time USF graduate, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1994 and a Master of Arts in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling in 1997. She was no stranger to the financial struggle many face during their student years. While pursuing her master’s degree, Sheridan says she often worked up to three jobs, as a waitress, bartender, beverage cart driver for a local golf course, and banquet server on the weekends.
“If I can do just a tiny thing to ease the burden for someone and help them achieve their goals, then this is what it is all about for me,” says Sheridan. “After retiring from teaching at USF, I knew I wanted to stay connected to the students and the CRMHC program. Along with encouragement and mentorship, this scholarship is just another way for me to support these incredible students who have dedicated their lives to helping others.”
Sheridan says she always knew she wanted to give back to the CRMHC program that afforded her so many opportunities in her career. She was particularly inspired after hearing the phrase, “first you learn, then you earn, then you return” from a fellow member of the Women in Leadership and Philanthropy group at USF. She realized that creating an endowed scholarship would allow her to make a gift that would continue in perpetuity and leave a legacy at the university.
“In terms of any philanthropy, every single dollar counts. There were years where I sent whatever I could – sometimes $25 to the CRMHC program,” said Sheridan. “Do what you can, when you can, but also be aware of how a single donation like an endowment can create this opportunity for generations to come. It’s a way we can help so many more people and really meet the needs that are there.”
Sheridan continues to work as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a Board-Certified Clinical Sexologist, and a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor with a private consulting and psychotherapy practice. In addition to supporting students in the CRMHC master’s program, Sheridan also hopes the endowment will make an impact on the counseling field.
“There’s a shortage right now of therapists. People are on incredible waitlists, and it’s difficult to find quality care,” says Sheridan. “So, training the next generation of highly skilled clinicians who are trauma-informed and who are intrinsically compassionate and empathetic, those will be the new advocates and activists in the field. And that’s really exciting.”
It’s a mission that so precisely matches that of the CRMHC program: to promote quality behavioral health care for all, particularly people with disabilities, and to help the state and nation meet their human service and workforce needs in the area of rehabilitation and mental health counseling through teaching, research, and service.
“We are grateful to the Sheridans for their generosity and investment in our program,” said Chih-Chin Chou, PhD, CRC, associate professor and CRMHC program director. “Dae inspires and motivates everyone around her. She has had a tangible effect on the lives of her students in her class, and her impacts will be remembered for many years to come. The Dr. Dae Sheridan Endowed Scholarship will make the opportunity of a rewarding career in an important field more accessible for our students who need financial support.”
The scholarship will be awarded for two semesters each year, with preference going to first-generation students and CRMHC students who have demonstrated an intent to improve the fields of mental health counseling and human sexuality education.