About Us

The Core of White Apple Institute

In 2013, White Apple Institute (WAI) was granted nonprofit status as a 501 (C) (3) by the Internal Revenue Service and Certified as a Veteran-operated organization. WAI was formerly known as White Apple Training & Education Center, a private company in 1983. Founder Danita Applewhite, PhD, CRC, a Woman Veteran, developed the organization and the Self-Rehabilitation Program (c) in response to the overwhelming requests of educators, counselors, and employers who wanted to bring awareness to the challenges facing nontraditional adult learners/ students with disability (e.g. mental, learning and non-visible physical).
The services of White Apple Institute remain focused on helping Veterans,and eligible Non-Veterans, avoid drop-out from higher education (college, vocational training) and burn-out from the workforce due to a variety of psychosocial factors (i.e. adaptation to disability, emotional challenges, financial hardship, parenting, relationships, environmental barriers, adjustment to civilian life, conflicting job and class schedules, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, trauma including PTSD & MST and more). The delivery of services is based on the philosophies of Humanistic Psychology, Independent Living and Vocational Rehabilitation*.
The staff of White Apple Institute is composed of Student Veterans and Non-Veterans with disabilities who answer a critical call to action to ensure that “no Student Veteran/Student Parent should be left behind or underserved” if the motivation and skill levels are present.

“We can determine SUCCESS when the Student recognizes the Teacher within, strives to understand purpose, improves performance and productivity and desires the pathway to lifelong learning, peace, love and joy amidst the inevitable changes.” – Danita Applewhite, PhD-CRC, Army veteran, author, host of the White Apple Institute Talk Show, retired psychology professor and counselor and founder/CEO of White Apple Institute.

Our Founder


Dr. Applewhite (aka “Professor Apple”)

Dr. Applewhite (aka “Professor Apple”) is recognized as one of the leading experts in the fields of Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling, Independent Living and Education. For over 40 years, she remains dedicated to improving school and work performance for fellow Veterans,Nontraditional Adult Learners/Students and Employees with disabilities (e.g. mental, learning, non-visible disabilities). Dr. Applewhite is appointed by the Governor to serve on the Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council and the Arizona State Rehabilitation Council. She also serves on the Veterans Medical Leadership Council, the Women’s Army Corp Veterans Association, and is a Lifetime Member of Disabled American Veterans and Paralyzed Veterans of America.

She founded the White Apple Institute (formerly White Apple Training and Education Center) as a private practice in 1983 and it became a Veteran operated non-profit 501 c (3) in 2013. Her purpose continues to focus on CONNECTING or reconnecting Students; EDUCATING them on self-advocacy for accommodations at school and in the workplace; and SUPPORTING them with Mentorships and Sponsorships to ensure emotional and financial stability to reach their goals for workforce success. The unique methods implemented by White Apple Institute has helped thousands of Veterans and Non-Veterans prevent dropout and burnout from school, work and a quality life. Her mission is supported by a wonderful team of differently-abled Veterans and Non-Veterans who volunteer their time, skills, and passion to help others.

She is also the Host of the“White Apple Institute Talk Show”, a nonprofit radio/videopodcast outreach (formerly Student2Teacher Radio) featuring Ask Dr. Applewhite and Vet2Vet2U programs. The show provides information and inspirational stories on a variety of subjects related to the cultural, psychological and social impact of disability and emotional challenges on school and work performance. Many recognized educators, employers and health professionals learn and share valuable information for recruiting, retaining and recognizing nontraditional students and employees with disability, including learning, mental and nonvisible.

Dr. Applewhite is a frequent Speaker and Consultant at “Disability and Veteran-Friendly” educational institutions and companies. She is most effective with her clientele because of her own recovery from cancer and a near fatal car accident, resulting in her being wheelchair-bound and adapting to chronic pain. This journey has inspired her to help others change the perception of “disabled to differently-abled” and to recognize that everyone, regardless of the severity of our disabilities, is capable of being a “student and teacher”! She has written the Ask Dr. Applewhite Self-Rehabilitation Program (pending publication) as a compilation of counseling and self-help techniques she has implemented with Nontraditional, Underserved Students, as well as herself.

A significant portion of her time is spent supporting local and international efforts to encourage community outreach and workforce development projects for underserved persons with disability via Telerehabilitation and Videoconferencing. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling with her family, including five grandsons, and sitting in her Serenity Garden at home in Mesa, Arizona. She also enjoys jazz, swimming, and playing chess, Scrabble and poker games.

The Board of Directors

Beverly Poellnitz, EdD
Beverly Poellnitz, EdDDr. Poellnitz is a board member and serves as an Adjunct Professor at Estrella Mountain Community College in Arizona. She graduated with a doctorate in Education from Arizona State University and maintains a private practice as a Professional Storyteller and Wellness Educator. Her experience and skills as a successful Entrepreneur has gained her recognition in the Business Education community. She has helped hundreds of disadvantaged students reach their work and school goals.
Kim Owens-Hamilton, BA
kim2Ms. Owens is Secretary/Treasurer. She is the Owner and Operator of several residential facilities in the State of California for persons with mental disabilities. Ms. Owens possesses an extensive background in social services and group home administration. She is also the Executive Producer of the “Ask Dr. Applewhite” Radio Talk Show. She is a graduate of Ohio State University and has extensive skills in working with disadvantaged families.
Nazim Rashid
nazeemNazim Rashid is a board member who has served the community as a counselor in the fields of mental health, substance abuse and for persons previously incarcerated. He has served as a Trainer, Educational Consultant, and Teacher for severely disturbed adolescents, autistic children and adults and teaches private music lessons. He currently serves as a Life Coach, Author of “Reconnected: How To Be A Mentor To Your Child-Self”, Personal Development Specialist and host of “Reconnected” Radio Show.
Hear his CD “Remembrance” at: www.jazzrenaissance.com.
Email: nrbookclub@gmail.com


Christine Anderson
chrissyChristine Anderson was born in Whittier, California and grew up in Glendale, Arizona where she attended Ironwood High School. She then attended Gateway Community College and majored in Computer Science. Christine volunteers for White Apple Institute as the Network Manager and organizes the database for all communications. She enjoys helping people become successful especially Veterans.

Jane Garcia, Army Veteran
janeJane Garcia is the Co-Chair of the Professional Advisory Council and she served in the US Army for ten years. After exiting from military service she became a science educator working at many levels of the k-12 school system. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Psychology focusing on cognition and instruction. Her areas of research interest are women issues.


Tom Baker, BA
tomswimmerTom is Chair of the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) of White Apple Institute. He completed his Associates Degree in Business at Mesa Community College and graduated from ASU with a Bachelor in Science degree in Psychology. Tom learned how to advocate to obtain his education after a major car accident and consequent paralysis. He played competitive wheelchair basketball for over ten years and was selected as an All-Star. He also competed in paralympic swimming and won two Bronze Medals. Tom encourages Adult Learners with physical and mental disabilities to overcome their fear and embarrassment when asking for accommodations. He inspires them to get involved with Disabled Student Resources on their college campus and learn how to advocate for accommodations.

Helpful Links

– The Independent Living Movement visit the National Council on Independent Living at www.ncil.org
– Vocational Rehabilitation visit the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification: CRC, CRCC at https://www.crccertification.com
– The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation at https://rsa.ed.gov/about-your-state.cfm
– Humanistic Psychology visit AHP: Association of Humanistic Psychology at https://www.ahpweb.org