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Scholarship success: Dr. Kenyuatia L. Gash

At VA, we know that supporting your growth and development allows us to deliver on our promise to provide care to Veterans. If you want to attain the highest peaks of your chosen profession, we can help you get there through some of the most comprehensive scholarship programs around.

With the Employee Incentive Scholarship Program (EISP), we offer eligible VA employees tax-free scholarships of up to $46,307 toward the cost of higher education, including tuition, registration fees and books. In return, you agree to work at VA in a health care occupation for 1 to 3 years after you complete the program.

Dr. Kenyuatia L. Gash, a senior social worker and staff psychotherapist who has worked for VA for 12 years, obtained her Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degree through her VA career thanks to the EISP, and has seen the benefits firsthand.

Instrumental support

“EISP has been instrumental in my professional journey,” Gash shared, “laying a robust foundation for my commitment to national service and leadership.”

Gash also mentioned that easing the financial strain of higher education, the scholarship allowed her to immerse herself fully in her academic pursuits and research endeavors. She described the result as liberating, as it offered her the opportunity to explore her field in greater depth.

In turn, the scholarship bolstered her academic achievements, and provided her with the ability to advance her professional skill set.

“The scholarship program has done more than fund my educational endeavors,” she shared. “It has endowed me with the tools required to effectively meet and advocate for the complex needs of our Veterans.”

Advanced opportunities

With the support of the EISP, and with guidance from VA leadership, Gash said that she has also been granted opportunities to engage with prestigious platforms beyond academia, programs which she may not have been able to participate without her advanced degree.

For instance, Gash serves on the board of the Council on Social Work Education’s National Disaster Task Force Committee, serves as co-chair for the American Board of Clinical Social Work’s Program Committee, and supports the Journal of Military Social Work and Behavioral Health Services as an editorial board member.

“In these roles, my voice and expertise can influence meaningful change,” she said. “In addition, EISP has afforded me invaluable connections with respected and esteemed professionals, weaving my efforts into the national tapestry of social work and policy development.”

Gash described these relationships as “pivotal” for forging future partnerships, securing employment, and making meaningful contributions, especially in advocacy for Veterans’ welfare.

Program requirements

EISP scholarships are available to VA employees who meet the following criteria:

  • Applicants must be continuously employed by the Veterans Health Administration for at least one year before applying.
  • Applicants must be enrolled or accepted in an approved academic program which meets VA Qualification Standards. 
  • Applicants must be within credit limits of EISP (90 hours for undergraduate courses, 54 for graduate courses).
  • Applicants must be in a permanent full-time or part-time position at the VA at the time of application and during participation in the program.
  • Applicants must agree to perform a service obligation in a Title 38 or hybrid Title 38 occupation after graduation.

As noted above, scholarship recipients also agree to work at the VA in a health care occupation for a period of 1 to 3 years after completing the program, but as Gash noted, there is more to be gained than just a fiscal reward.

“EISP is more than just monetary assistance,” she said. “It is a cornerstone investment in my professional growth and ongoing contributions to social work and Veterans’ affairs. This investment has prepared me to emerge as a vanguard and innovator in the field of social work.”

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