Fresno State Associate Professor Dr. Jenelle S. Pitt has earned national recognition for her efforts to expand opportunities for people with disabilities, particularly individuals who are from minority backgrounds.

The National Rehabilitation Association awarded her the Sylvia Walker National Multicultural Award, named after a professor, researcher and director of the first federal Research and Training Center focused on minority issues and disability. Walker served as a long-time advocate for multicultural issues in rehabilitation.

Pitt joined the Kremen School of Education and Human Development faculty in 2009 and is coordinator of Fresno State’s nationally accredited Rehabilitation Counseling Program. She is also chair of the City of Fresno’s Disability Advisory Commission.

“Dr. Pitt’s personal and professional experiences have helped open new and exciting possibilities for individuals who have historically been marginalized and left behind,” said Fredric K. Schroeder, director of the National Rehabilitation Association. “All people, including people with disabilities and minority individuals with disabilities, have much to offer, and society is made better when their gifts and talents are recognized and appreciated.”

The award marks the third time in two years Pitt has earned national recognition. In March 2014, the National Council on Rehabilitation Education honored Pitt as Rehabilitation Educator of the Year, and in July 2015 the National Association of Multicultural Rehabilitation Concerns honored her work.

“I am extremely honored to be selected for the Sylvia Walker award, as this underscores the importance and value of the diversity and social justice contributions of which I have been involved,” Pitt said. “This area of work, where aspects of identity and lived experiences intersect, really is my life’s passion.”

Pitt was also among the 2014 recipients of the Fresno State Provost’s Promising New Faculty award.

She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from University of California, Riverside, and her master’s and doctoral degrees in rehabilitation counseling and rehabilitation counselor education from Michigan State University. Her research interests include cultural diversity and multiculturalism, rehabilitation counselor preparation and organizational behavioral practices in state vocational rehabilitation agencies.