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Congratulations to the 2023 AccelerATe Scholarship Award Winners


The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) is proud to present the 2023 AccelerATe Scholarship awards

A diverse and well-trained workforce is critical to meet the needs of the growing number of individuals who can benefit from assistive technology (AT)--a number expected to double from one to two billion people by 2050. To ensure that AT is appropriate for those who need it, the workforce must promote excellence in AT education, design, provision, manufacturing and research. To help fuel workforce growth, the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology (RST) offers this AccelerATe Scholarship. 

Scholarship winners receive a maximum annual award of $5,000 (USD) to offset costs associated with RST degree-granting programs including the Master of Rehabilitation Technology (MRT) or Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics (MSPO). 

Program Director Mary Goldberg was eager to announce three of the scholarships with students who will be starting their studies in the Master of Rehabilitation Technology (MRT) this fall.  

“The AccelerATe Scholarship and those who received it represent the best things about the MRT program and the field itself: the recipients, the program and rehabilitation technology are inherently interprofessional and diverse!” Goldberg comments.  

“The one-time $5,000 award helps to lower the cost of the program and recognizes the recipients' commitment to diversity and diversifying the field.”  

“Each awardee embodies characteristics and demonstrates accomplishments that make us proud—including contributions to disability advocacy and prior service work for people with disabilities.” Goldberg continues, “This year's AccelerATe cohort includes students from three different countries: Colombia, Nigeria and the United States.”

The awardees--Stevie Mays, Mariana Ospina and Nneamaka Francisca-Ezeh--are eager to get started in the program. All three shared how the scholarship will assist in their studies at Pitt.

“Choosing the MRT program at the University of Pittsburgh was the greatest decision for me It is a progressive step toward gaining additional knowledge and experience on top of the knowledge and skills I already earned during my undergraduate studies. 
“I intend to increase my horizons, knowledge and competence in the field of medical rehabilitation technology while enrolled in this program. I want to bridge the gap between a patient's impairment and daily life activities with the application of advanced technology and medical therapy, therefore restoring functionality and mobility to a disabled body part through biomedical excellence. 

“In addition to the physical, psychological and financial challenges that lie ahead, receiving the AccelerATe scholarship is a significant motivator and push toward attaining my academic goal, thus ‘using little to gain more.’”

-- Nneamaka Francisca-Ezeh 

Nneamaka Francisca-Ezeh


“As a person with a variety of physical and mental health disabilities, I appreciate how the MRT program educates on the technology that the disability community advocates for. This provides maximum independence and therefore better quality of life. The program also often works directly with the disabled users of the products- which is not always the norm for disabled people receiving services.“  

“While in the MRT program, I am thrilled to learn in depth about the adaptive technology folks are using in their everyday lives. I want to ensure the best quality outcomes of this technology, from function to aesthetic, because these tools are inherently a part of disabled persons, as if they are an extension of their body. “While in the program I will continue my work with Easterseals, offering free of cost services to Navy families who have children with disabilities. Additionally, I work with a communication group that helps non-speaking, autistic folks and their families with training in typing in order to communicate. The scholarship will help lighten the burden of needing to find enough time for me to work and rest, and will allow me greater flexibility with study time.”

-- Stevie Mays


“I am incredibly grateful to have been awarded this scholarship, as it presents a tremendous opportunity for me to pursue my academic goals and make a significant impact in the field of assistive technologies. I am empowered to advance my studies and contribute meaningfully to the development of innovative solutions. As someone who aims to serve as a role model for underrepresented groups, I am deeply committed to leveraging my expertise to bring about positive change in both my field and my community. Fortunately, the receipt of this scholarship not only relieves the financial burden on both myself and my family but also allows me to fully focus on my academic pursuits and access the necessary resources to excel in my program.  

“This program is uniquely suited to help me achieve my long-term career objectives, as it combines academic rigor with practical training in the field of my choice. My inspiration initially came from two remarkable women, Sara Múnera and Maria Luisa Toro, who have made significant contributions to promoting changes for people with disabilities in my country (Colombia). Both of them are graduates of the SHRS at Pitt, which has motivated me to pursue my education there as well.  

-- Mariana Ospina

Mariana Ospina


Published July 21, 2023