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Maryland Lieutenant Governor Boyd K. Rutherford and Maryland’s Higher Education Commission Secretary, Dr. James D. Fielder, recently announced the awarding of $46,000 in scholarships to Maryland students, including a team of six from Montgomery College, who are helping to combat opioid abuse in Maryland. 

Since 2015, Lt. Governor Rutherford has led the state’s efforts to address the heroin and opioid epidemic and has worked with both the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) and Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC) to promote the need for ongoing education against this nationwide crisis. 

To increase awareness of the opioid epidemic at the college level, the state created a public service announcement (PSA) challenge for college-aged students. A total of 25 students from four postsecondary institutions participated in the video public service announcement challenge, and will share $46,000 awarded to MHEC through an OOCC state grant.

The MC team, consisting of students Franz Spillenger, Deana Wilson, Barke Khamis, Dennis West, Goodness Isaac, and Nadia Villegas created this video, earning them the scholarship awards.

“Since the very beginning of the Hogan-Rutherford administration, we have been focused on instituting a holistic, comprehensive approach to addressing Maryland’s heroin and opioid epidemic that includes the traditional angles of law enforcement and treatment, as well as prevention and educational efforts,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “Education plays a critical role in breaking the cycle of addiction by engaging young people on the dangers of opioids before they consider using or are faced with the pressure to do so.”    

MHEC began its video challenge with three outreach events to inform students about the need for increased awareness about the opioid epidemic and to provide naloxone training to students, faculty, and staff. Later, MHEC staff invited students across the state to submit a video PSA that would draw attention to the opioid epidemic and would resonate with college students in Maryland. 

“We are impressed with the contribution our Maryland students have made to combat the opioid crisis by developing, creating, and producing these public service announcements,” Dr. Fielder said. “We have engaged college students to help raise awareness about addiction, the opioid epidemic, and the resources Maryland has to offer its residents.”

The 25 students will receive scholarship money to support their education at their current institution. Joining Montgomery College’s team in receiving the scholarship award are students from the following institutions, accompanied by their respective videos:

Hood College 

University of Maryland Eastern Shore: 

University of Maryland, College Park: 

The PSAs will be used by MHEC, OOCC, and the Maryland Department of Health, as well as other organizations statewide to raise awareness of the dangers of opioids.​

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