Rutgers MSW Student Awarded Scholarship for Tourette Syndrome Advocacy

NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders (NJCTS) announced their annual scholarship awards this week and Drew Friedrich, a Rutgers Master of Social Work Student, was awarded the Faith W. Rice Memorial Scholarship, named after NJCTS founder and former executive director.

Tourette Syndrome is a neurobiological disorder characterized by uncontrollable movements and sounds known as tics. As many as 1 in 50 school-aged children show signs of TS or other tic disorders, which are frequently accompanied by mental health disorders including ADHD, OCD, and anxiety. For some, about 1/3 of those affected, the disorder will become more manageable in adulthood, but for the other 2/3’s, the tics will continue as is, or worsen. There is no cure for TS, but there has been recent, significant advances in discovering the combination of genes thought to be the cause.

Drew is from Clifton NJ. He is currently pursuing a MSW from Rutgers University after getting an associate’s degree in criminal justice from County College of Mercer and earning a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Ramapo College. Drew became involved in NJCTS in 2006, when he was in the 7th grade, as a camper. However, his greatest contributions to NJCTS have been centered around the Leadership Academy.

The NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy is a four-day program for high school students diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. The students stay in the Rutgers dormitories and learn more about their condition, participate in recreational activities and much more.

“Drew has been an integral part of the NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy.  He is the only team member, besides myself, who has been a part of the program from its inception,” said Melissa Fowler, the Leadership Academy Director.  “Drew has grown as the program has grown, always one step ahead.  He is a critical leader and has helped advance the mission of the program—to help youth develop as leaders and advocates.”

Friedrich became a coach at the Leadership Academy at the age of 21, much younger than all the other coaches at the time. He had such a strong leadership quality that he was deemed Head Coach in 2017 and then Assistant Director in 2022. He now spends every August in this role, helping the new generation of students who need a place to feel safe and understood.

“Our founder, Faith Rice, was well-known for her commitment to bettering the lives of those with TS and Drew has followed in her footsteps,” said Santina Reichenbach, Acting Executive Director of NJCTS. “He has made a difference in the lives of so many children with TS and will continue to make a difference with his continuing education. We congratulate and thank him.”

NJCTS is a not-for-profit organization committed to the advocacy of individuals and families affected by Tourette Syndrome and its associated disorders. Dedicated to delivering high quality services, the Center recognizes the importance of educating the public, medical professionals, and teachers about this disorder through programs and affiliations with schools, health centers, and the community. To learn more about Tourette Syndrome and the programs available from NJCTS, visit www.njcts.org.