Human Services training leads addiction recovery effort in Douglas County
Human Services students give back
With salt and pepper hair, a broad white smile and a deep gravely voice, 62-year-old George Humphrey is what is known as a nontraditional college student. In UCC’s Human Services department, Humphrey is one of many nontraditional students hoping to give back to the recovery community through their continued education.
Humphrey, like some of his classmates, has a history of recovery from substance use.
“There are a lot of students interested in addiction treatment in some form or another; there are a lot of students in recovery themselves, and a lot of them want to pass that forward and prevent people from having to go through what they’ve gone through or help them along with the process as someone helped them before,” associate professor and current Program Coordinator of Human Services Alex Jardon says.
Assistant professor of social and behavioral sciences and the next Human Service Program Coordinator Alex Olsen also notes the prevalence of students in recovery.
“In my experience in the Human Services department, I would say at least 50% of the students are in recovery from addiction,” Olsen says. “I think it brings a real richness into classes too because people get to both draw on their lived experience while also learning the best practices within the field so they can be effective when they go out and engage in human service work.”
“From what I hear from students, (these programs) are a big tenant of their recovery,” Olsen says. “Part of being in recovery is wanting to give back and help others; they’ve seen what a change there is in their lives from before recovery to being in recovery, and I think that really motivates people to want to help others make those positive changes because a lot of this doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
“It’s not like they’re the only person who struggled with addiction. Often times they still have family members, friends, people in the community who they care about and would also like to know there are resources for them when they are ready to get into recovery.”
Human Services and addiction treatment
Originally a counseling psychologist, Jardon always knew he wanted to teach but was still initially surprised when he joined the UCC Human Services Department by the addiction treatment-focused curriculum.
However, he quickly found he meshed well with the students.
“I think it’s a great community of students,” Jardon says. “Because a lot of them have that common experience of having a history of addiction they support each other really well. I found the students really are just so passionate about helping other people that it makes it a pleasure to come to work every day,” Jardon says.
“I like the humility factor. I’ve known people who want to help, but they haven’t really been through any major challenges, so they have a hard time empathizing with what other people are going through,” Jardon says. “We know there is a lot of addiction in Douglas County, and so a lot of people have those real-life experiences and want to use that experience to help others, which I find to be very inspiring.”
Resources at UCC
UCC offers multiple certificates in the Human Services department geared towards the recovery community, such as addiction studies and addiction treatment. Both of these certificates also include the course work needed to become a certified drug and alcohol counselor, what is called a CADC1.
“We also provide cooperative work experience opportunities so students can start getting the 1000 hours they need to sit for the exam and become an official CADC1 and not just an intern,” Olsen says.
“The big thing I have seen is that some students just need the extra support to know they can do it. I think something that is really common with our human services students is ‘oh I am just going to get this two-term certificate,’ but then they realize ‘oh, actually, I am really good at school, I’m doing really well here. I actually wanna get my whole year certificate’ or ‘I wanna get my AAS.’ I think a lot of what UCC can do is build students’ confidence to see hey you can succeed; this is something you really can turn into a career and be really good at and move up the educational pathway,” Olsen says.
UCC also offers a peer support specialist class, HS 110, every other summer offering peer recovery mentor training in a single 40-plus hour course. Students learn to provide supportive services to persons in recovery.
Layken Woodard is one of the students who want to give back.
Layken Woodward learns she likes learning
Woodward was a full-time working single mother, celebrating four years of sobriety when she joined the UCC Human Services program fall of 2022.
“I’m really just soaking it all in and loving it. The more I learn, the more I want to learn so I can make a better life for me and my daughter.”
“I have worked in entry-level jobs for 15 years, and in my active addiction, I never bothered to care about that. I had seen people in the same circles go back to school and be successful, so I posted on Facebook that I was considering going back to school and got immediate feedback and encouragement.”
Woodard did not expect to enjoy learning as much as she does here. She previously did not have a good school experience and dropped out of high school in 2006, eventually achieving her GED in 2007 .“I didn’t think I’d enjoy learning as much as I do,” Woodard says.
Now, Woodard has quit her job at Blac-N-Bleu so she can be a student full time and is heavily considering switching from an AAS to an AAOT so she may broaden her educational possibilities.
Like Woodard, returning student George Humphrey came back to school not only to expand educational possibilities but also for a change in perspective.
George Humphrey finds a positive outlook
After the 2015 shooting at UCC, Humphrey did not see himself ever returing to school. Prior to the tragedy, he was 18 months into recovery and an accomplished geology student. He had encouraged his friend, Jason Johnson, to return to school as he had done; Johnson was one of the first victims of the shooting in Snyder Hall.
“I just kind of lost it again,” Humphrey says. After the shooting, Humphrey relapsed and returned to crime eventually returning to prison for the second time a year and half later.
“Coming back here wasn’t something I saw myself doing,” Humphrey says. After his release from prison, Humphrey moved into an Oxford House in Roseburg, a sober living facility, and was eventually encouraged to go back to school like many of his friends had.
Humphrey was admittedly depressed after his time in prison and throughout the COVID-19 lockdown but found a change in perspective with his return to school.
“You gotta find the positive in everything you have done and keep moving on, stay motivated, and move forward,” Humphrey says.
Humphrey is working for the certificate in addiction studies to be a certified recovery mentor and eventually hopes to work for Adapt. “I have noticed since I started school, I am happier,” Humphrey says. “I have a more positive outlook.”
Humphrey’s classmate Lori Bogle can relate to Humphrey’s experience.
Lori Bogle learns valuable communication skills
Bogle is a nontraditional student with a long history of sobriety interrupted by a relapse that led to, as she puts it, “a significant turn in prison.” When released, Bogel decided to return to school to finish the credits for the AGS degree she had begun years prior at Chemeketa Community College.
Bogle has acquired skills in her human services classes applicable to her work as a claims manager assisting victims of the Archie Creek fire.
“My human services classes have helped me immensely to communicate and get clients to open up; I try to connect on a personal level,” Bogle says.
“I know I had a calling to help others, but I feel very called to work with women,” Bogle says
“I feel well equipped to go into the human service field, but I am learning what I need to learn, regardless of the type of field I eventually choose; these skills of active listening and communication are transferable to any field,” Bogle says.
Bogle found value in her return to school and encourages others to do the same if they feel called to. “Do not allow your past to dictate your future,” Bogle says.
Bogle’s passion for helping others is shared by student Shelby Slay.
Shelby Slay pays it forward
Shelby Slay is an addiction studies student with over 10 years of sobriety. Her interest in the human services field was sparked by her own success with her recovery counselor.
“When I was in treatment, I really admired my counselor; he was an intervention in my spiritual journey, and I wanted to be that for someone else,” Slay says.
“I had friends in similar situations that went through school with grace. Watching my friends do it has given me the motivation to keep going,” Slay says.
Slay, through previous school at Lane Community College and work with Serenity Lane, has already earned her CADCII; she has returned to UCC to focus on furthering her education before transferring to Portland State University. She now works at Adapt in the ARTeam (addiction recovery team) helping clients live happy lives and remove barriers they sometimes face to engage in treatment.
“If you have a passion for helping people, this is a good field,” Slay says. “If you feel like you are not good enough, always remember you are. Going to school just tightens the qualities you already possess,” Slay says. “If others can do it, so can you.”
For more information on the Human Services programs and certificates available at UCC, please call or email Alex Olsen at Alex.Olsen@umpqua.edu.
If you or someone you know struggles with addiction please remember recovery from addiction is possible. For help, please call the free and confidential treatment referral hotline (1-800-662-HELP) or visit findtreatment.gov.
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