Substance abuse counselor overcomes grief and age discrimination

In this interview with a substance abuse counselor, she shares how she has overcome overwhelming grief at the loss of her mother that changed her career path and lead her to this rewarding field. She also tells about her experiences of looking too young for the job, and how she juggles her professional career along with caring for her 3 children, one of which has special needs.

What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?
I am a Masters Level Counselor of Substance Abuse Recovery. I am currently finishing up a year long internship in the area of professional counseling working with children who have been affected by the drug and alcohol abuse of their parents as well as working at a drug treatment facility. I would describe myself as caring, funny, and patient.

How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?
I come alongside of people who are struggling physically, emotionally, and spiritually due to trauma, abuse, and chemical dependance. While I am alongside of them I guide them, educate them and sometimes push them to dig deep within themselves to find healing and hope for a clean and fulfilling future. My work entails; understanding, being non-judgmental, being patient, a lot of listening, and a caring spirit.

One misunderstanding that I would like to correct about counselors/therapists/shrinks, we are not all trying to figure everyone out (analyzing) when we are off the clock, that is just what we do at work. We are like any one else that when we leave work, we like to leave it at work.

What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best? Do you speak another language, and has it been helpful in your career?
I am Caucasian and a female. Being a female has helped somewhat because many of the children I have worked with had been exposed to violence by men, so there was a better sense of trust being a female for the children. The discrimination that I faced was based on my age, I look younger than I am, so people are not sure I am old enough to hold the degree that I do. I responded to the discrimination by just proving myself and being the best that I could be and giving the best service that I could. I do not speak any other language, only English.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?
I would absolutely rate my job satisfaction a 10. I love what I do. The only thing I would change, and that I am working toward, is opening my own practice. This will come with time.

If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?
This job absolutely moves my heart everyday! I love getting up each day working with people who have found the courage to fight addiction, to face their past traumas and heal their gaping wounds. I feel privileged to come alongside these people and help them pick up the pieces of their lives. I feel honored that for the first time in many many years they are choosing to trust again and I am the person they are trusting. This is my calling, no doubt.

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
Growing up as a little girl, age 7 or so, I always told my mom I wanted to be a heart surgeon. Well, life happened and I married young and had three children. My youngest child has special needs; Cerebral Palsy, Seizure Disorder, Hydrocephalus, and other issues. I tell you this to say that I never made it to medical school.

However,  I did go to college and began working on my classes towards my nursing degree. I have always wanted to help people. I finally applied to the 4 year nursing school of my dreams, so excited, I was placed on the waiting list, now very excited.I was on the wait list for about a month and then my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal brain cancer, she was given 2 months to live.

Two days after that diagnosis, I was called and told a spot opened up at the school and I was next on the list. I turned down my spot, I chose to care for my mom in her last days on earth. She only lived 5 weeks after diagnosis. My spot at nursing school was gone. My mom was gone. I was devastated.

I chose just to finish my bachelors in psychology because it was easy. I then began counseling for myself after the death of my mom and soon saw how this wonderful woman was helping heal my mutilated heart. I started working on my masters a year after my mom passed away.

I feel like a heart surgeon, working every day on broken hearts. They are bleeding and they have huge gaping holes in them and I get to help mend the broken-hearted. I’m doing what I wanted to do as a child, just not in the way I thought I would be doing it.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?
I learned that human nature can be so evil. I learned this through listening to the loss, trauma and pain that other humans inflict on others.

What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?
That there is always someone in every place a person works that will try to overtake you, or be little you, or bully you. I need to stand up for myself be assertive and not allow others to dictate my future or how I will respond throughout the day.

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?
The strangest thing for me is when a fight broke out between a women and her nephew in the office.

Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?
I get up and go to work everyday because I love what I do. I really love when a client who never laughed out loud or hardly smiled for months finally laughs with a big belly laugh, and then does it weekly after that.

What kind of challenges do you face and what makes you just want to quit?
Resistance, when a client just shuts down and refuses to work any longer, especially when they are so close to critical issue.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?
My job could be stressful if I took home the troubles of the clients. I have had to learn that when I go home I am in the moment with my family, they are what is important.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?
$50,000 is a rough range. I am happy.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
Three weeks a year, I do feel it is enough right now.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
Some places require a 2 year degree to counsel at treatment center, however I am planning to have my own practice in few years so I have my Masters. One must have at least a Masters and a License to have a private practice.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
It takes a lot of study, commitment, and you really need to be called to this line of work. I cannot imagine doing this and not liking people, or not having patience. Really think it through.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
In five years I would have my own practice on my own property specializing in adolescents and young adults struggling with addictive behaviors.



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  • Very good story. I love how she is determined to make a difference in others lives despite her own tragic happenings in her life. Her mom passing was a hard situation for her and she took that hurt and put into helping others. Not doing exactly what she wanted to do as a child, but definitely doing good helping others.

  • I share the grief of loss with you but my mother is still with us just not always sober. I feel I lost a part of my childhood due to her drinking and a lot of relationship time with her due to her addiction. I love your metaphor for the heart surgeon.
    I also want to start my own practice. I want half to be alcohol/drug rehab and the other half to focus on the poor families dealing with the addiction because we are often forgotten about. I have very strong passion for this area of study.

  • just like her , whenever i do something that is related to my profession, which i would love for it to be criminal defense law, it can be something as small as defending someone at the mall when the cashier doesn’t want to honor their coupon and there is a language barrier . it gets me all warm inside at the fact that i was able to help someone who was in need. just like her i want to get licensed within the next 5 years. and have my own profession up and running.

  • This is a great article! I really loved how the author took her own pain and transformed it to healing. She really is a healer. I felt proud reading this article. I also, Aspire to become a counselor for the very exact reasons, to help people find their happy medium and to live beyond the trauma life can bring.

    I have a mom who did drugs and who is now mentally ill and I aspire to help her through helping others. No, she has not accepted the fact that she has mental illness nor does she want help. Its inspiring to not give up. I’m so much more motivated reading this article.

  • The motivation that this Substance Abuse Counselor displays is reflective of my own motivation to become a Mental Health and Rehabilitation Counselor. As a young girl I too dreamed of becoming a physician because I was filled with the desire to help others. It was not until I was in college that I realized that mental health is just as important as physical health. Through both personal experiences and professional experiences with mental health I became determined to play a role in helping individuals cope with trauma and the psychological symptoms that result from their trauma.

    Similar to her experience I have also faced the challenges of discrimination and adversity. Being a young Hispanic female my competency has often been called into question. Additionally, I have been faced with the challenge of living with my own trauma. Working with children and hearing their stories I have been forced to open up my own wounds. Although it may be difficult at times I have learned how to cope with my own pain and never take any moment for granted.
    Despite these challenges and the adversity I have persevered and remained determined because I truly feel it is my calling to help others.

    Ultimately, I too desire to open my practice and work with youth. My experiences working with the youth in the schools in my community and in the Juvenile Detention Center has led me want to work with this specific population and hopefully make a difference in lives of those children affected by trauma.

  • This was a beautiful story. My sister is working at an internship as a substance abuse counselor as well, and her experiences sound so similar to yours. I hear the way in which she tells her stories and they are filled with passion and emotion. It requires so much of you and your heart but it is also a career that matters and has a purpose in life that is greater than you. This has provided me with greater insight into the field and whether this specific path is right for me as well.

    Counseling and therapy can often become more than just your job but bleed into your personal life. My main challenge in pursuing this field one day would be to find that balance and I think this substance abuse counselor puts it very well. Your priorities are different based off of where you are. Family is most important at home, and your client is most important at work. I really enjoyed this interview, it was honest and raw and provided great insight.

  • I like this article I like that it talks about different aspects of the job and clears up any misunderstandings about the job.

  • This is a really inspiring story! In reading her story, I realized that my studies in nutrition and exercise physiology parallel the work that she does in many ways. Although registered dietitians are often demonized as the “food police,” the client-centered nutrition counseling approach involves a lot of empathy, understanding, and open-mindedness.

    I also empathize with the misunderstanding that she wanted to correct! Friends and family constantly ask me what they should be eating or if a certain food is good or bad (which is my pet peeve because I subscribe to the philosophy that all foods fit in a healthy lifestyle and that we should not place judgment on food). Believe it or not, dietitians eat cake, pizza, and ice cream!

    I am very inspired by the resilience she showed in grieving her mother’s death and the gradual journey she embarked on toward healing. My mother died when I was 5 years old, so although I can’t say that her death was the catalyst toward a monumental career change, it has certainly influenced my path toward preventive care through nutrition and exercise. She was someone that did everything “right” – she lived a generally healthy lifestyle and had no vices. There are so many things in life that we can’t control. I am passionate about helping people do everything in their power to lead long, healthy, fruitful lives.

  • I am a very attentive listener and have had many peoples personal stories shared with me. Learning more about how to handle these situations and respond accordingly would be greatly beneficial.

  • I grew up with an alcoholic father, so my childhood did not consist of spending much time with him. As a child, I looked at people like him like they were monsters, but what I did not know, was that a lot of what was happening, was going to rub off on me as I grew up. I never knew that years of not having a father and genetics could make me the person I was. Many times events change the way we look at things and what we want to do. I like this story because that’s exactly what happened. I am also thankful there are people like this willing to help others.

  • This story is extremely motivational, it truly shows that no matter what one may encounter or go through, anything is truly possible with hard work and dedication!

    I also can relate to her experiencing discrimination in the work place. As I currently work as a registrar in the Emergency Department, I am the youngest of all my coworkers which consists of different medical professionals and individuals in my department. With that, my ability was often questioned which pushed me to show them that I can do what they can do, if not better! This leading me to receiving immaculate scores on my patient satisfactory surveys. Unfortunately, this was not the only discrimination I have experienced in the work place. Being a woman of color, there have been patients who have refused to speak with me due to the color of my skin or they may say some really rude or derogatory things to me. At first, this would really get to me but, I have learned that those words mean nothing to me and my ability. These things push me continue my education and want to help people even more because, ignorance is truly bliss!

  • I can totally relate to her because I got a job right when I turned 16 and I was the first person in my family to be a full time student and a part time job. I had so many responsibilities and none go my family members thought I could do it, I was working close to 40 hours and having to get ready for my junior year in high school. But I did it and I now have two positions at my work place.

    I am a Host and I am also a Togo Specialist at Olive Garden. I have been working there for about 2 years and a couple months. I now have had to cut back on hours because college requires a lot more time and commitment than high school did but I never quit.

  • This is some of the work I want to do in particular I would like to work with children. I can relate to the therapy part the most as I went into counseling for my depression at the end of my sophomore year in college.

  • Reading this story was absolutely heart-warming and so relatable! I remember at the age of 16, our family found out that my aunt had a very bad heroin addiction. I remember everyone being so shocked and devastated knowing she was doing that and an addict. One day, I got a call from my mother saying that she had overdosed and that I needed to leave school and come to the hospital. That day really opened my eyes to see how close addiction can hit home and affect the ones you love so much. Im currently going to School for Criminal Justice and psychology. I mainly want to go into law enforcement to actually help people. I want to be that officer that actually stops and listens to a person’s needs and try my absolute best to better them and help them learn from their mistakes in a positive way. I don’t want to go out and arrest a person for substance abuse problems, I want to go out and use any other alternatives to get them help in any way and help get them clean.

  • Why would anyone try addicting substances? Sometimes I find myself wondering how people dare “try” certain substances that are known for causing serious addictions. Unfortunately, part of the reason for it seems to be general unawareness regarding the negative effects of developing an addiction, which is somewhat obvious at the individual level but might not be as obvious if we think about its impact on society. Throughout this essay, I will share my opinion regarding substance abuse in general, with a focus on why they have become a problem, what are the factors that cause them and how we can progress towards an addiction-free world.

    Before reflecting upon why drug abuse and addictions pose a problem to our society and its members, I find it necessary to analyze the different reasons or factors that lead people to put themselves in a position of risk. Traditionally, it was thought that the use certain substances was reserved to those who are unhappy, as a way to momentarily evade their obligations or escape their lives. This holds true for a small portion of the population and is especially common in low-income and conflictive communities. However, drug abuse has increased as a consequence of the appearance of a new market that includes middle or high-class buyers who have access and means to obtain them. Some of them are satisfied with their lives but develop an addiction out of imitation. Youngsters are especially vulnerable in this sense and tend to get involved in substance abuse because their friends are doing it as a way to socialize and it is considered “cool”. It is one of those things where someone decides to change their personality so as to be socially accepted by their peers. As expected, society itself is inciting this behavior and is thus a major cause for the increase in dependences among young people.

    What are drug addiction’s effects at the individual level? Firstly, abusing any kind of substance causes health issues that can be chronic and often life-threatening for the consumer. In addition to the “good” feeling drug addicts claim to be experiencing, these substances cause dangerous side effects that make their consumption not worth it. To name a few, many of them disrupt respiratory and digestive systems, cause abrupt changes in mood or immunity to normal doses, which results in the consumption of greater and greater amounts of substance to feel the same degree of pleasure. Secondly, addictions tend to have a very negative effect not only on the individual but also on those in their surrounding environment. Relatives and close friends of addicts usually suffer immensely as they witness them irremediably fall into that pit. I find it extremely sad that people under an addiction do not seem to be aware of the damage they are causing to their families. In the beginning, it is very common for them to deny they have a problem and be hateful towards anyone who suggests it. The more seriously addicted a person is, the less productive they become in every sense. The time spent consuming substances is time that cannot be dedicated to other activities that include obligations and leisure. Addictions can destroy family bonds and friendships but they also have a very negative impact on our society.

    I think there are multiple ways through which society can overcome or at least ameliorate the issue of drug abuse. For instance, banning any substance that has been reported to cause prejudicial addiction is an effective way of solving the problem by eliminating the source. Although in theory it seems like a good idea, it would be complicated to carry out due to blurred lines between what is considered addictive and what is not. In fact, many people would argue that caffeine is an addicting substance even though it is widely accepted and consumed on a daily basis around the world. In my opinion, the most effective solution to this problem is educating the population about the consequences of consuming addicting substances, its health and social implications. All high schools and universities should offer a course on drug abuse and addiction for students to understand how prejudicial it is. I am of the belief that education is the ultimate weapon to overcome all the problems faced by our modern society.

    It is difficult to imagine an addiction-free world considering how this “illness” has impacted social structure and human bonds. A word free of addicts would probably be much more productive, since every single one of its inhabitants would be able to make a contribution to our politics, economy and/or culture. Additionally, it would lead to more equality as a consequence of everyone being equally capable of demanding rights and responsibilities. The economy would be much better because all the money invested in the trade of these substances or in the maintenance of rehabilitation centers dedicated to detoxification of addicts could be given other use. Mortality rates would be lower and I imagine that the population would be healthier in general since exercise and sports would be an alternative relief factor.

    If I had to send a message to current addicts, it would be to think about the suffering of the people that are closest to them. Although the solutions I described above might decrease addiction levels, they are only ways to strengthen the will power of individual addicts. It is completely up to each individual to reflect upon the damage they are causing and make an effort to fight their addiction. So current addicts; you have the power to change your habits and make the world a better place for everyone. There are thousands of people willing to help you overcome your addiction and it is never too late to get cured. Ask for assistance, be patient and most importantly, never give up.

  • Beautiful story I appreciate you sharing your story. You are giving hope to those who needs to hear your story.

  • An awesome story. This story reminds my personal experience with my father. My father was an alcoholic and very aggressive man. He used to physically and mentally abusive on daily basis to my mother and older sister. My father was the typically “Mexican macho man,” who did not allow us to do anything if he did not approve it. My mother struggled a lot being part of that toxic relationship. My sister and I suffered emotionally during our childhood for seeing most of the time my parents yelling at each other and fighting. For this reason, I decided to choose my major in Family Studies and Human Development to help and support those people who need the most. It can make a huge difference in a person’s life but, especially for children.

  • This was amazing to read! I myself have worked in a mentorship program that paired me with a struggling youth in my community. In fact, in order to be in the program, the minors had to have had some experience with CPS. Therefore, I have come into personal contact with situations that are seemingly all negative and the resiliency of people overcoming that. It was an absolute privilege to be a part of something so enduring and positive towards someone else. The most important part of which was boundaries. I was there to guide and to help but not be a parent. It is similar to the boundaries of a counselor without the degree of professionalism.

  • I admire your strength to continue this job that has so many challenges.

    Within my own family, a terminal illness has claimed the lives of people I love, and made the lives of everyone I care about that much harder. However, just like the loss of your mother and the disability of your children changed your perspective on your career, the loss and pain that runs in my family has changed my view of the world.

    I am a film major at Webster University. When I was a child I always wanted to make cartoon and movies that make people laugh. However, after facing the loss and the pain that I have I realized that my gift of creativity had another purpose. I realized my film can be used to united the voices of others like me. Those who have felt loss and feel alone in this world, seeing a film made by someone who has had the same experience can mean the difference between feeling alone in this world, and having some hope for the future.

  • Summary:
    My name is ABDUL BATEN I Ma male aged 26 years with a Social Work and a Evaluation and I have more 3 years working experience in international development organizations . I looking for a position in data associate/clerk, M&E officer, program, project officer, field officer and any other position that meets my credentials.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I was also touched by cancer, except I was diagnosed myself last year. During that time, I was abused by my partner, who was still using, although he had fooled everyone in his life that he had been clean for years. This led me to wanting to further my work in human services, helping support those who are struggling and those who are their victims. To stop the cycle of abuse and trauma.
    I love that you said you are still working with hearts. You are totally right!

  • My mother also passed away of brain cancer, a few years before I graduated college. I told my mom that I would drop out of school to help take care of her, but she insisted that I stay in school and make her proud.

    I would have done anything for my mom, so I admire this woman’s sacrifice to be there during her mom’s final days. Those days, while heart-breaking, are a gift; and I know that I was lucky to be there with my mother in the end.

    Today, I am a first year medical student. And, while I am also young for my field and have had my share of age-discrimination, I am working towards my MD every day because it is my passion and I am going to make sure that I make my mom proud.

  • While a moving story, one aspect that really stands out is how she felt being a female in this profession helped her. I can understand her point of view, especially considering that a lot of victims of trauma, has been at the hands of male perpetrators. However, in this profession of social work, if we really are trying to move forward with more equal representations in professions, I find that being a female will be a disadvantage in social work, as there will be more incentives for men to pursue that profession. While I think it’s great that more men are pursuing this profession, as a female, I do worry that I will not be able to obtain a job as easy as I would hope it to be.

  • Interviews like this really showcase the number of paths one can take to reach the destination they are meant to be in. My heart went out to this woman as she watched both her mother and her dream slip away. It seems that while academic achievement and success are so intertwined with our personal lives, there are very few opportunities to discuss how those affect our academics in an academic setting. The belief is that you should leave your troubles at the classroom door, but the reality is that we take every life experience into our education and careers, and are likely better for it.

    I connected deeply to the discussion of discrimination based on age. As a trainee and future clinician, I have often faced parents who question my qualifications, whether implicitly or explicitly, and feel that I am too young to have the degree I hold, and have too little life experience to be able to add anything to their family system. Furthermore, I have often felt at a disadvantage because of my age as I have watched clinicians in the same training place as myself be deferred to because of their age.

    I am glad to read that while her road has been difficult, this woman has found a path that makes her happy and fulfilled while allowing her to help others.

  • As I read this interview I recalled many of my own personal struggles I had been through growing up in a family with parents who were drug addicts.

    Seeing my parents dig themselves deeper into addiction every day was the hardest thing for me as a child. As I got older I realized how horrible addiction can be not only for the addict but also for the family and loved ones of the person using. My oldest sister started to use drugs about two years ago, two years after the birth of her daughter, my God daughter.

    It’s so hard to see my sister struggle with the same problems my parents did, but it is even worse to see my God daughter suffer because she doesn’t have her mother there for her. I know all too well the heart ache and pain a child goes through when they do not have a sober and coherent parent to raise them.

    Through my schooling I hope to someday obtain a career that will help me to reach out to the children of addicts and at-risk youth, to make a difference and apply the understanding and experience I have to offer.

  • Sometimes life happens before you know it. I was an active duty spouse of a Army MSG. Before he retired our life continued to spiral down. I’ve worked with military families for the last 10 years and I thought I saw it all until life started happening to me. After getting pregnant and losing a child due to negligent healthcare, in addition to their physical therapy department tearing meniscus, my middle child was arrested for murder. I thought I could not continue with my life.
    Many people spiral down and not seek help. The counselor above made a power statement “When I come along side them”. We are not alone. Many are not spiritual or believe in God. I turned to the only one, I believe created me and know about me. Deep within I knew my life was not my own and I needed to learn from what is happening to help others. So I enrolled in a Counseling Masters Program.

    Prayerfully within two years, my belief, strength, and education can help me “come along others” to help prop them up in their life situations. I have a peace that surpasses all human understanding in spite of things happening in my life. You are not alone : )

  • This interview hits very close to home. I also started working towards a Nursing degree. January 10, 2016.. everything in my life changed. I lost someone who meant so much to me to addiction. Him and I used to talk about stopping this horrible disease, and helping as many people as we can one day. My hearts always been with Psychology, just never did anything about it. Until that tragic day came. I know am living the life he and I spoke about, and I’m gonna keep on trying to help anyone and everyone I can !!!

  • I have also encountered issues with age discrimination. I am frequently told that, based off my looks alone, I am too young to do something. I am legally an adult, but frequently spoken to by strangers as if I were a child. People tend to underestimate those of us who look considerably younger than our age, but I have learned to turn that around to be more motivation to succeed.
    To the author of this post, I am glad that you have found being a female an asset, as I have had several people discriminate against me because of it. This is a very male-centered world we live in. I hear all too often that women are “too emotional” and that that interferes more with the quality of work they produce. Whenever someone says that or that I cannot do something because it is a male’s job, it makes me more inspired to do it.
    I dream that one day, once I graduate and am in my career field that I will be as happy as you are.

  • This is an amazing story that I can relate to. I am one of those students who thought they had everything planned out, similar to this professional, however I quickly learned that was not the case. I chose my school and degree to do the sensible thing and try to please others. Now, as I was close to graduating with my bachelors degree in Biology, I felt that I was not happy with the path I had chosen and realized I needed to follow my heart! I applied to Colorado State University and was accepted and I will now be pursuing an Equine Science degree as well as completing my degree in Biology. I am also very interested in the field of psychology and have a passion for helping others. This woman helps children who have been affected by alcohol and drug abuse. I am too someone who has watched people and lives fall apart before them because of this issue. I am hoping to somehow incorporate my equine studies with equine assisted therapy to improve the lives of others!

  • In a strange way, losing someone close to you brings into your life a kind of potential. This can manifest as derailment or an opportunity for growth. I really admire the way that for the woman interviewed, it was able to propel her towards a career in which she helped others overcome the grief and panic that appears when a sudden vacancy appears in your life. When my close friend back on the East Coast committed suicide, I did not seek grief counseling. I was 17, it was my first semester of college, and I felt I had no one to turn to. My relationship with my family was strained at best and they lived on the other side of the country from me. I concluded the semester with a .04 GPA. I wish that someone had been able to provide this resource to me.
    Beyond this incident, coming to college at 17 was a difficult challenge. I’ve always excelled at school and been in classes and grade levels with people older than me. This combined with being read as female contributed to the constant initialization of me and my abilities. This became an issue in many of my upper-division classes my first two years as other students regarded me as incapable of critical thinking because of my age. As the woman interviewed shows, we are aged more by our experiences than anyone looking at us could know.

  • It was heartwarming to read your story. I am a mother of 6
    who at the age of 34 decided to go to college for the first time so that I
    could get a position in management instead of the support positions I have
    always held. It took me 8 years to complete my degree. I was very proud of
    myself for graduating with Cum Laude honors but still found it hard to find a management
    position and I think it is due to many discrimination factors like my age of 45,
    my ethnicity of being Hispanic, and the fact that I am also a lesbian who has
    been with her partner for almost 20 years. But mostly I think it is due to
    employers thinking since you are a mother then you can’t dedicate yourself to
    your job and your children. So after 3 frustrating years of trying to attain a
    management position I decided to pursue my Masters degree in hopes of qualifying
    better with additional education.
    Like you when it was time to start my Masters program
    I was one week into my first class and my father was diagnosed with terminal
    stomach cancer. I tended to him and did my school work but I got a B in that
    class not the usual A I am use to getting. My dad only last 2 weeks and then I
    had to deal with the grief of losing him but I keep him in my mind as I
    continue to take classes in Business Administration which he got me interested
    in since he was a business owner himself. No matter what my challenge is I know that I
    can continue and seeing others like your push though it makes me know I can

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I feel like you really highlighted the challenges and rewards of substance abuse counseling, which is something I hope to better experience in the near future. I can relate to you on many levels through 12 Step work. Although I recognize that it is not the same as one who assumes a professional role, I can certainly relate to that rewarding feeling you describe of seeing someone smile and laugh who was once miserable. In the rooms of 12 Step programs, I see many people come in for the first time scared, struggling, depressed, and the whole gamut of negative emotions that come with addiction. What keeps me going back is the unparalleled happiness I get when these people start to grow emotionally and spiritually; I can see the lights gradually appear in their eyes and the smiles show on their faces. Knowing that I was able to play a part in helping them because they trusted me enough to share some of the most vulnerable parts of themselves is a serene feeling that cannot be compared.

  • Being a counselor is a very hard profession to pursue. There are so many branches of the counselor profession that it is hard to choose which branch is right for you. A substance abuse counselor has to be one of the most taxing brahces of the counseling profession. There is you, your client, your client’s addiction, your client’s family, your client’s friends, your client’s significant other, and your client’s goals. There are so many people in the equation with so much hurt, hope, and questions. I respect these counselors so much. I am pursuing a MA in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). This includes the similar aspects as a substance abuse counselor.

  • This interview really hit home with me. I am a pre-business major at the University of Arizona but I have always had an interest in psychology, specifically child psychology. I also have experienced great family tragedy in recent years.

    Three years ago I lost my grandfather. My grandfather and I were extremely close and his loss paid quite a toll on me. At the time I was a sophomore in high school, running cross country and throwing myself into my work with my schools Student Council and Assisteens(philanthropy outside of school). My grandfather hadn’t seemed like himself for a few months but nothing stuck out enough to make me worry about not getting to say goodbye. As I sat there on a Tuesday taking my AP European Studies test I could feel something was off. My stomach started to turn and I felt light headed. Once my exam had ended I saw that my mother had called me twice and that my brother was coming to get me from school instead of me walking to my grandparents house, which i’d been doing a lot of that year. I’ll never forget the rush of emotions I felt when I walked in the gate to their house and saw my entire family sitting around the table. I knew right then and there that he was gone and that I never got to say goodbye.

    The next few months after his passing were the hardest. I went through a slump where I didn’t want to talk to anyone, when I didn’t want to be myself. I would do the things I was required but didn’t feel the motivation to go out and do extra things i’d always loved to do. I stopped seeing friends, I stopped singing, I stopped Greek dancing and I stopped attending church. I let my guilt of not saying goodbye get the best of me. I thought that if I gave up something I loved that somehow it would make up for not being around him as much at the end of his life.

    After a few months of feeling empty I finally talked to family friend who reminded me of how much I meant to my grandfather. They reminded me that he had sacrificed so much to create a better life for his family and that being able to watch me grow up and watch me put my mind and soul into the things I cared about was what was important to my grandfather. He wouldn’t have wanted me to give up on the things I loved, he would want me to work even harder and be even more dedicated.

    After being reminded of the thing i’d seemed to have forgotten, I went back to life as best I could. I picked up where I left off but this time gave it everything I had.

    I am also the child of a parent with severe addiction problems. My father has been addicted to drugs since before I was born and is now a recovering alcoholic. Growing up I was blind to his addictions. My mother and three older sisters sheltered me from the everyday pain they went through. They were successful at this for the first five years of my life. As I started school, I became more aware of his absence and minor actions he would take in front of me.

    I never could quite understand why he would choose such harmful things over a loving family. As a young child it didn’t seem to have a large affect on my life but as I matured and went on to middle school I started to have more issues with my father. At that age I understood more than I did as a child and the facts seemed to resonate with me more. I felt angry towards him but at the same time wanted to understand his thought process. It took me all the way until eighth grade promotion to realize that even if his brain wanted to stop and have a connection with me, his addiction was more powerful.

    These two life experiences taught me to be tough and to never give up on myself. They also showed me that Family Law/ Child Psychology is what I am truly passionate about. I know that being a business major doesn’t seem to fit in that line of work but just like the abuse counselor in this interview , I too would like to own my own practice one day. This is why my plan is to continue as a business major here at the University of Arizona and then continue my education through the JD/MBA program where I will not only get my law knowledge but also have a masters in Business. Having both of these will help me be successful in my dreams of being a successful family lawyer.

  • This is very inspiring story. I am a School Counselor and also find my job extremely rewarding. I too have the challenge of looking younger than I am. This does require one to be the best professional possible and to prove to clients that we are well trained and good at what we do.

  • It takes so much self-awareness to help others in a sincere and proactive place. Having met a few therapists, it becomes very clear who’s in the profession because they “loved psychology and understanding people” and who’s in the profession because they know and accept the challenges of bringing people into their stronger selves.

    I relate to the counselor in 2 different ways. 1 – appearing younger than the stereotype of my profession and 2 – being called to the line of work (my area is education). I remember walking down a school hallway and a faculty member said “you can’t possibly be a teacher?!” and another faculty member asking me if I was a new student. These are both harmless statements, but it immediately makes you self-conscious about your appearance. questions float around like “should I wear more grays? Does my hair being up make me look younger? Will I be convincing enough to teach?” It’s an interesting cunocndrum that most young educators, especially female, experience when they’re in the middle/high school.

    Being called to be an educator sounds funny because there are so many organizations that belittle the profession with undertones of “it’s so easy to be a teacher, even a economics major can do it.” But those who stick with the profession because they know they have wonderful qualities to teach and they receive so much satisfaction in the small and big achievements is really where the calling lies. Loved this interview. It shed light on the authenticity of service-work.

  • I completely connected with the “working every day on broken hearts. They are
    bleeding and they have huge gaping holes in them and I get to help mend
    the broken-hearted”. I have always had a desire to help those who are suffering, and a little over a year ago I became a volunteer at a telephone crisis and suicide prevention hotline in my hometown. I always enjoyed having a breakthrough with callers and seeing their progress, but never more so than when my boyfriend ended our almost 2 year relationship.

    I truly felt as though my heart was bleeding, torn to pieces…just completely broken. I felt very depressed and didn’t want to do much of anything, but the days that I went to the crisis hotline made me feel a little more alive. I couldn’t mend my heart or fix my problems, but knowing that I could make someone else’s day a little better just by listening to them and speaking with them over the phone was – and still is – so rewarding. I commend this woman for turning a devastating tragedy into something positive and I hope I am as helpful to my callers as she is to the people she helps.

  • It is so refreshing to read about a woman who has overcome bad things in her life and still has become successful. Being a woman in the medical or science field is very tough in terms of discrimination; however, with support I am sure that can be changed. I am very happy for this woman because it is rare to hear someone say they are in love with their job. I hope to someday be able to say that about my occupation!

  • This is the exact field I am going in when I finish with my bachelor’s degree. I personally have never experienced the substance abuse for myself but I see so many people struggle with this in their lives. I feel like I would get discriminated against when I go to field I think some people will ask me why I even got into this field when I have no personal experience for myself. I don’t believe that you actually have to go through it in order to understand the pain it brings someone. I agree with her I want to be able to get up and go to work in the morning and love exactly what I do everyday. I feel like when I entered this degree program I felt like this is where I finally belonged. At the end of the day some people just want to be the little contributing factor of change for someone in their lives. Be there someone that some have never had in their lives. So many people I am sure have looked at people and judged them based on what they see but never seeing who they are. She is so right when she says that you have to be non-judgmental in this field because you will run across a lot of people that will test you and your values but you have to be able to not bring your personal thoughts into equation. I really loved this piece because she feels the exact same way about why I want to enter this field.

  • Over the years I worked worked with many adult clients who had various types of developmental disabilities. While this is a very different field from what she did I identified with much of what she was saying. Particularly this statement, “My work entails; understanding, being non-judgmental, being patient, a lot of listening, and a caring spirit.” Working with adults that had severe autism or traumatic brain injuries could be very trying at times but it was far more rewarding than any other job I have ever had. I often found that my individuals helped me just as much as I helped them. I wonder if the author feels the same way about her clients.

    I also identified with what she was saying about age. When I was hired by my organization I was the youngest person out of 700 employees working there. I quickly showed that I was the right man for the job. Only five months after being hired I became the youngest and fastest person to ever earn employee of the month at that place. Despite that accomplishment I often found that my individuals families would not take me seriously or scoff about the fact that they had been sent “a useless kid.” They would always learn though that whenever I am on the job that means they had someone 100% committed to their son while I was there.

    I really appreciate the work this woman does. I come from a family with a history of addictions and know first hand how devastating it can be on the children of such families. It’s important work and it takes a caring individual to do what she does.

  • Reading this only reminds me of my Step-father. He used to be a caretaker at a psychiatric trauma ward. Everyday he would come home with stories about the people he would have to help with. His main duties were to keep the patients from hurting themselves, doing things like hold them down while they had seizures, and once even taking a razor from a suicidal rape victim. All of these powerful and painful stories would weigh down his heart so much, and yet, every night he would get dressed and go to work, because he wanted to make a difference, because he wanted to help. He sacrificed his own happiness to help heal others.

  • Diversity makes us strong and this gal is strong. We all have trials to go through with life and I can feel her

    strength as she speaks about the children and her job. She has found her calling and this is what I hope to

    do. Between being a child of divorced parents, dealing with my mother who has had her share of addictions, to

    having a son who is ADHD and now a father at 18, my grandson has Cerebral Palsy and other related problems
    and I am a 45 year old grandmother who has decided to go back to school so I can help people in a way I have
    not been able to in the past. I also open my home up to people when they are having hard times (I have 2
    roommates and a family of 7 living in their RV right now). I also have a passion for animals and have 8
    rescued animals in my home. It seems like a lot, but they give me so much more than I have ever imagined.

  • I enjoyed reading this interview because it reminded me that I have chosen the right career path for me. I agree that pursing a career in the Psychology field takes patience and the right person. I believe that every person’s experiences shape who they are, and point them in the direction of what they should do with their life. Allowing something that you are passionate about to veer your decisions, allows your career path to choose you. I think that having a personal attachment to your job enables you to be able to truly enjoy the career you choose. I found it interesting that the counselor said she does not find her job stressful if she tries her best not to bring her patients issues home with her. I liked that this was added into her interview, because many people ask me if I think I’m going to be able to deal with issues that fall close to home. I think that sometimes certain situations may upset me, however I know that I will be able to separate work and home. I enjoyed reading this article because it showed me that with every job there will be challenges to face, however if you enjoy the work you do it will be fulfilling and valuable.

  • Your story is truly touching. I’ve always wanted to help others overcome addiction and I believe me wanting to help has come from my experiences with my father who is addicted to methane and several other drugs. He’s been a drug addict for 13 years and has been in and out of my life. So having the intel on this issue makes me want to pursue a career similar to yours and i thank you for giving me a little insight on how it would be working the career that you currently have. I strongly encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing because if it may not seem like it you’ve helped millions have an amazing recovery and be able to live to tell their story about their recovery. Keep it up!

  • Reading this article has opened my eyes to the meaning of hope and inspiration. The fact that this woman was inspired to achieve greatness in her career as a Substance abuse counselor even after facing adversity with the death of her mother, shows how much inner strength she possess. Her issue with discrimination is one that I personally have gone through in my life.

    Even through those difficult times, I’ve managed to pull myself together and not let stupidity define my role in this diverse nation. Rather, I attempted to see my challenges as a learning experience for myself.

  • My entire young adult life has consisted of people telling me that I look 4 years younger than I actually am. When I interview for jobs, I’m not taken very seriously. Potential employers immediately inquire about my age, rather than my qualifications. It’s difficult to be taken seriously enough in order to get one’s foot in the door of opportunity at a wonderful work place.

    People don’t take me seriously because of my youthful appearance. Some even laugh when I tell them that I’m well on my way to completing my degree in Criminal Justice Studies, a year and a half early. When I inquire about job opportunities after I do complete my degree, I am told that I will more than likely have to wait several years in order to get anything due to my age.

    However, I’m planning on not allowing my youth hold me back. It is my life and I plan on living it my way. Although some might say that I need to stop and smell the roses and enjoy college instead of racing through it. I would say that just because I’m completing my degree faster than the norm, doesn’t mean that I’m failing to enjoy the accelerated journey. Besides, roses smell just as nice when you’re walking briskly past them.

  • Reading this article, I was able to relate a lot to the points that were being made. From the beginning I related to the discrimination that she felt because of the career she had chosen. This related to me because even though I did not chose to be a part of the medical career, I chose to be apart of a career involving art. Before choosing to attend California College of The Arts, many of my peers chose schools with paths such as psychology, or math, or even social work while I was the only one who focused more on an art base school. Even though it is a different type of discrimination, it is something that I faced as well as being Hispanic, going to college was not seen as an option for me because of my skin color and the stereotypes that were put on me as well. I think choosing an art based school does help with fighting the stereotypes because I have worked on writing pieces that go against what those stereotypes are as well as making a short film about it as well.

    Something else that I also connected with this article would be having hardships in life and over coming those. Even though it focused on substance abuse, I related to it because I feel that a lot of the patterns that people have that are addicted to substance abuse can also be seen with different illness such as depression, or any form of mental abuse as well. Making through this hardships I believe that it takes a strong person but not only do they have to do it alone but also finding a counselor or some sort of helping hand helps with the process as well. Going through a similar experience myself reading this article left an important impact on me on realizing that it is something that is dealt with everyday in different circumstances, but they initially all have the same healing process.

  • We all have our struggles in life but what is meant to be will happen. Reading this career story helped me to realize that hardships can be overcome and that sometimes the life throws curve balls your way. The woman sharing her story faced losing her mother and her position in nursing school, but was still able to find a career to fulfil her dreams.
    I understand that the career I choose now may change in the future. I want to do as this counselor has done and allow for my determination and schooling to prepare me for any future job that I encounter. I want that job to a job I love.

  • I loved reading this story, it’s very inspiring to me because I am trying to start a similar career path. I’ve always wanted to help people, I wanted to be a missionary when I was young. I graduated from high school and started college early at 16, but I already knew I wanted to study psychology. I love other people and I wanted to do what I could to improve other’s lives. I knew counseling worked, as I struggled with depression when I was a teenager after my parents got divorced. My family didn’t have the ability to help pay for my education very much, so I’ve had to work simultaneously, and I ended up getting into the legal field. I finished my Associate degree in Paralegal Studies and now work as a legal secretary to help fun my education. I decided to double major in criminology because I find it very interesting, and I particularly wanted to be able to help adolescents who were going down the wrong path. One day I hope to be a counselor for juvenile delinquents. However, I was thrown a curve ball when I was raped at 17, and subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. This was difficult because I was the victim of a crime, yet I also want to help the perpetrators of crime psychologically. It was also difficult because I again needed counseling for my PTSD, and it was hard to come to terms with the idea of being a psychogist and eventually a counselor, while also suffering from a mental disorder and needing counseling myself. Through this process, I’ve learned to be able to understand psychological ailments even more, and have found a renewed commitment to helping adolescents avoid a life of crime and injuring others, while also learning to empathize with the people behind the crimes, and be able to forgive the man who committed a crime against me. I have learned a lot about crime and about the healing process, and I now know that this will help me in my career and not hinder me. My long term goal is to be able to open a group home, similar to a half-way home, that can serve as an alternative for adolescents who might otherwise serve sentences at a juvenile detention center. I would like to focus on counseling, empathy and skill training, and rehabilitation into productive and crime-free lives.

  • I’ve grown up in a household where substance abuse was a major issue. My stepdad has dealt with a drug addiction most of his life and it has ruined almost everything in his life, including our family. I sympathize and relate to this story quite a bit when she talks about feeling like a heart surgeon, working everyday on broken hearts. Living with an addiction is more than being the addicted person, their families, colleagues, neighbors and everyone around the addict has to live with it too. I also relate to her saying that she felt discriminated against because she looks younger than her actual age and having to prove herself along the way to gain the respect she deserved. I have experienced discrimination based on my race, and the area I live in which is predominantly white, where the expectations of blacks are very low. I have excelled academically and socially with my volunteer work and continue to impress my instructors and my community leaders. I know that I can overcome anything with determination.

  • As I read this story it reminded me of myself. Before I switched my major to Family Studies
    and Human Development, I was a pharmacy major. I had chosen pharmacy because I wanted
    to help people out, but then I realized that I didn’t want to be behind the counter
    trying to help people I wanted to be interacting with them. I love to help
    people and this story was one that I had the biggest connection with.

    I can also relate with people trying to put you down. For me
    it has been hard to be seen as something less because of the color of my skin.
    At some point in my life it did put me down, but then I realized that I shouldn’t
    be ashamed of who I am and that the color of my skin is not going to determine
    the knowledge that I have. No one can take my education away!

    Like she mentions she loves working with people and seeing
    them smile; that is exactly the kind of person that I am. I just love to help
    people out and be there when they need a shoulder to lean on. I like to listen and give advice and do
    anything that I can to help out with their problems. It’s rewarding to know
    that being there for someone can really impact and change their lives.

  • After reading this post, I definitely found myself connecting with this lady’s commitment to her field. Despite her age, she really wants to make a difference in her client’s lives. Regardless of her, or the mental health fields difficulties, she finds drive to provide an excellent quality of service. That’s very courageous and inspiring!

    I’m an older student myself, recently accepted to grad school for education. I’m hoping to transfer my case worker skills into a successful second act as an educator. Reading this post reminds me that, sustained effort and drive can overcome any obstacle. I want to be an example; but also, provide my students a road map as to how education could empower them.

    This article is another example of the power of change. Just imagine if each teacher changed each student’s mind in his/her classroom? Wow! Now that’s what i want to be, a change agent. Teaching is activism, just like what this lady is doing in social services. Age has nothing to do with it, only a willing heart counts!

  • This is a touching story how we can overcome overwhelming obstacles and succeed in reaching our dreams. Being a minority in the area where I live means that I have to face adversity every day. This Helps me solidify my choice of study and career path.

  • I connected with this article in a manner that I did not think I would. I had to make rather hard choices in my life when it came to my education and other aspects of self. I specifically identified with her having to make life changes regarding taking care of her mother when she got sick. I had to do similar when my grandmother had a stroke. I was living in California, while she lives in Indiana. I decided that there were hardly any other member of my biological family that would take care of her, thus I knew that I would have to take care of her to help her have a manageable life. I took care of her for the better part of a year when my father stepped into the role of taking care of her, but I will always remember that I was able to help out during a rough patch for her and know that I helped her to be better. Taking care of her helped me to realize that I wanted to work in the helping profession, which I now recognize is because I know now that I have these abilities to help others achieve great things. It is so powerful what one individual can do to help the world at large. It just takes us giving ourselves a voice to be heard and not allowing ourselves to be pushed down by our pasts.

  • It is truly amazing how each individual finds there calling to this type of field. I will have to admit that I grew up wanting to be many different things. I think the biggest that I wanted to do when I was younger was to be a dancer. Although, I had talent for it I never really pushed myself in this career path because my whole heart was not involved. However, after my father entered into a treatment facility after many years of substance abuse this is when I found my true calling in life. I was able to see how dramatic my father’s changes were in my own. My life went from a difficult one with drugs and alcohol involved, excuses for him, and the lack of finances in my home to a happier lifestyle when he got out. I was able to have conversations with my father and not worry about finances as a high school student. I think that this experience has allowed me to obtain a career in the helping profession to help others that were in a similar situation.

  • I am truly touched by how this women has overcome so much to rise to the top. Her story is very inspirational in the sense that many people, like myself, can relate to it. She talks about how she faced discrimination and I was taken back to times when that has happened to me as well. However, through her words she has inspired me to continue my goal of being a counseling psychologist. They manner that she describes her job as being fulfilling makes me want to be able to say the same if not more some day.

  • This story relates to my life in
    numerous ways, being an African American growing up I have experienced a lot of
    discrimination in my life time, there are always people thinking I am stealing,
    or lying, or trying to fight but in reality I am nothing like that people just
    go off of stereotypes and just assume that’s the way I am, just like what the
    substance abuse counselor, had stated the discrimination
    that she faced was based on her age, and she treats discrimination exactly how I
    would, by just proving them wrong and
    being the best that you can be so no one can stay they were right about you.

    I totally relate to
    putting your dreams on hold to do something more meaningful, like how she took
    care of her mother, instead of going to nursing school, I have 5 siblings
    living with me and ever since I was old even to watch them all I did was sacrifice
    for them, I did everything in my power to make sure that they were happy and my
    siblings come before anything, this story just shows me that even though you
    are living with hardships you can still be successful in life its up to you.

  • This article strengthened me today. I remember wanting to be a psychiatrist in high school but ended up changing what I wanted to be out of fear of bringing the work home with me. My mom used to be a nurse. She had me while young and worked several jobs and it was during my adolescent ages. She experienced a lot of death and discrimination at her work place and it affected our relationship and even her health. She is no longer a nurse and her health has improved. I hope to one day possess the same patience that is required being a younger woman in an “adult” world.

  • This article strengthened my soul today. It certainly does take a lot of patience to be in her field. In high school I really wanted to be a psychiatrist, but my history teacher who had taken that path before said it’s hard not to bring your work home. She seems like a wonderful woman and I hope she reaches her dream in every way she imagined it.

  • This article was very touching and I felt I had a lot in common with her. Were she had felt discrimination with her age, I feel it with being Mexican and a women with kids. I Identify with Mexican Americans, working class Americans, and women. I grew up in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania; a town known for steel factories and coal mining. My family did not have a lot of money growing up, my mother was an accountant for a trucking company and my father was Mexican and did not speak English very well. He found it very hard to find a job in this area and moved back to California were he could find work. He died a few years later of cancer, and my family moved on. Growing up I did not know that we were poor, and how hard I would have to work when I got older to be a successful adult. I have worked as a waitress and movie theater cashier while in high school and Business College.
    I went to business college for medical assisting and worked for 10 years doing just that. I liked my job, but it did not pay enough to support my family. After I had my two sons, and got older I felt I needed to start school again, and try to break out of this lower class American status I was born into. As a Mexican American woman working lower paid jobs I have seen and witnessed a certain level of discrimination.

    It seems that every job I have had there was just no growth for women in that profession. In five years with the same company I only received one fifty cent raise. I am positive that is was not my job performance because I tried to hand in my resignation and it was denied and I was asked to please stay. I never did understand after the getting the seniority after putting in all that hard work, why I was never offered more responsibilities, a new title or a raise. My boss was very belittling at times and it was not a job I could stay with for a longer time then I already had.

    Being a woman, a mother, half Mexican and not having a higher level of education has still not held me back. I am working hard to bring myself up and be a proud successful American woman.

  • Your story is amazing. I lost my mom during my Associates program. She was the driving force behind my pursuit of a higher education. I, too, took care of her in her final days while working full time, attending school full time, raising my youngest daughter and supporting my oldest daughter in a multitude of ways, as she was in treatment for a heroin addiction. I have lived through my daughter suffering from the disease of addiction, and many relapses, have worked in a treatment center, and feel that living through the trauma of addiction and what it does to the family unit will help me to be a better counselor. My daughter is currently facing 2.5 years in prison from charges she incurred in 2008, I am still working a full time job, enrolled in school full time to obtain my Master’s Degree, and now raising my, almost two year old, granddaughter.

    I hope to make a difference in the lives of the families and lost souls that suffer from addiction and be as strong an inspiration as you are to your clients. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Since I started working in an entry level position at 14 I can definitely relate to the age discrimination. Its really amazing how you can tell by simply reading her responses that she really loves her job. That is such a strong testament to the idea that loving your job makes all the difference.

  • I totally identify with you because I have also been told that I look very young for my age. Despite being a senior in high school, people still confuse me as a freshman. Even though I am the captain of the varsity tennis team and am the president of other clubs, I still am sometimes mistreated because of how young I look. At the work place, I teach tennis lessons to younger kids. My co workers will often treat me as a child because I am not as old as they are. I am a Mexican female and I attend private school. Since there is not much diversity at school, I am subject to several racist jokes and rude comments. Luckily, I have surrounded myself with a true group of friends that helps me get through it all.

  • I am pursuing a career in sociology, and this article dealt with something I too feel I will be dealing with once I graduate. I will be an African American 22 year old female, and Im not sure how employers and companies will respond to my appearance. This article inspired me because there’s nothing you can do except your best and prove others wrong.

  • While I read this interview at some points I felt a connection. We both have been discriminated even though she was discriminated about her age and because of her career, I was discriminated because of my color during school. My teacher thought that becoming a doctor was not a reachable goal just because I was a Hispanic. No matter what people discriminate you about, it still hurts. Her and I, have learned that there are bad people who are out to put us down, mine was my teacher; but it doesn’t stop us. It encourages us to prove them wrong.

  • This is a great example of the hard work and dedication of pursing a dream no matter the obstacle. A women that is extremely dedicated and it continues me to continue my goals of becoming a young city councilwomen.

  • As soon as I saw the description for this interview, I knew this was the one to read. I have recently decided to go back to school to get a Bachelor of Science in Human Services with a concentration in addictions. My ultimate goal is to be a substance abuse counselor.

    My road to this career path was a little different than this lady. My mother is an alcoholic and my brother *was* an alcoholic who battled depression. Last year, drunk and facing a bout of depression, he shot himself and ended his life. I’ve always been a people person. I’ve always wanted a career doing something that is truly helping others, but it wasn’t until last year that I realized *how* I wanted to fulfill that dream. Depression and substance abuse are a deadly combination, and I hope that I’ll be able to help heal people who need it so that they don’t make the same mistake my brother did.

  • One of the people in my life who I have known for years and years and sincerely love…and I think she loves me back…she collects broken people. She says she collects misfit toys so that she can fix them. Does she want to be surrounded by broken people to the point that she’ll help them on the path. I just don’t understand the motivation behind something like that.

  • I really like the message of this story, that you can turn something so detrimental and turn it into something positive. I also think the notion that people are capable of altering their dreams to best fit their way of life while still accomplishing something meaningful is inspiring. This interview spoke to me because I’m in a position between choosing a dream that will simultaneously change the world and bring me success. A big dream, I know, but I believe I can cater my skills to create and fill a position that will give me an enormous sense of accomplishment on both a personal and professional basis.

    In my 18 years of life I’ve been exposed to poverty and wealth, seen both the privileged and the disadvantaged as well as the expectant and the appreciative, and been viewed as part of both extremes. I come from a lower class family with one source of income and the burden of a drug addled parent. I lived in a decent neighborhood near one of the most influential cities in the world. Being immersed into and having to adapt to communicate with both sides of the spectrum, I feel as though I’ve gained enough wisdom to find and implement the answers to a number of social problems across the world. Where the substance abuse counselor mended the broken hearts of individuals, I wish to reach populations of people who’s voices are maybe heard but not listened to.

  • This interview really connected with me and my life goals. When she began to talk about how she grew up wanting
    to be a heart surgeon but decided to peruse another goal, I relate a lot. I always
    wanted to be in the medical field and my mom always pushed me in that

    However, growing up I took care of my mom. She was bed ridden and depended
    on me and my older sister to take care of her. Those were the toughest years of
    my life and having frequent hospital visits, for my mom made me realize that
    the hospital was not where I belong. At age 15 my mother passed away, I was at
    her bed side.
    That summer was the summer I had to find something worth fighting
    for. I volunteered at a children’s camp and that experience completely changed
    my life. I now know I want to be a teacher for special needs children. I realize
    that woman and I had to experience a bump in the road to point us to home.

  • I love hearing stories of people overcoming obstacles and then using what they have learned to help others. I was a juvenile delinquent who now lives to help others change their behaviors and attitudes through education and understanding. I try to use my experiences to help others not make the same mistakes I did, or as living proof that people can change. People are people and patience for others goes a long way.

  • I understand what the counselor had to overcome. In my own life, I know the determination that is created when you want to provide and do well for your family. As a young girl I always knew I loved sitting and understanding who people are, what causes them to do certain things, and why they do them. I have family members who suffer from mental illness and it hit close to home when my grandmother was diagnosed with schisophrenia. This put into focus the reality of being a psychologist/therapist. Also I had my daugther as well, so now I realized that I not only wanted to understand what my grandmother was going through, but now I have this little girl that would look to me for everything in her world. I wanted to ensure that her world would be much better than the world I was given. I knew that I must continue my education and obtain not only an Associates and Bachelor’s, but I must strive for a Masters and Doctorial Degree. Education is the only way anyone will take you serious regardless of how much experienc and knowledge you have. So it is my goal to obtain the education along with my experience and knowledge. I will use my degrees to help others realize their full potential within themselves!

  • You stand strong and you stand proud. The one thing I teach my children no matter what…NEVER LET NO ONE STEAL YOUR THUNDER… We our all driven but when we find purpose we find ourselves driven with that purpose.Hurt and pain has many faces and it’s how you look at it in the mirror and what you chose to see.

  • This article hit close to home due to my father being an alcoholic. My father’s alcoholism affected my family in very negative ways. He was an abusive partner to my mom and did not provide or take care of me and my sister. The alcohol instigated my father to cause hurtful emotional pain and his death affected our life. My father attended rehab three times and each were unsuccessful. Like the counselor in the story her biggest frustration was when patients shut down or refuse to work any longer. I wish he was able to be successful in the programs, but I am grateful that the counselors at the rehabilitation center were willing to give him a chance to succeed. My father’s death inspired me to pursue the public health field because I want to make a difference in people’s lives and prevent their family pain. I value health promotion because our community members are falling into addictive behaviors, unhealthy lifestyles, and disease.

  • Many people don’t think about what will make them happy, they only think about the money – sure, money may make some people happy but not everyone. When choosing a career, we must focus on something we love doing and that will make us thrive everyday to give it our best.

    She is a strong woman, overcoming all those challenges along the way, at the end of the day is what made her stronger in life. I have thought sometimes, “why is it so hard?” but now after knowing that other people might be struggling more than I have I know I can make it.

    I think she is a great inspiration for everyone around her, we could all learn something from her experiences and the way she keeps fighting for her dreams. I certainly did, I will keep working hard in my career to make my dreams come true.

  • I cannot imagine having to go through what this woman did. After having a child diagnosed with multiple medical problems and healing from the loss of her mother, this mother stayed strong. She refused to give up just because she was faced with difficulties. Her words really touched my heart.

    For many years people have asked me “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I never could give them a solid answer. There are so many choices to chose from, that the process used to just overwhelm me. After careful research, I came to the conclusion that I want to in a position where I can help people; having people look up to me and view me as a role model.

    My life goals are similar to hers. I would like to earn my Master’s degree in psychology so I can work within the court system to help underprivileged children and families suffering from the effects of drug abuse.

    Reading what this woman had to say about her career was very beneficial to me. It helped me gain a better understanding of the hard work and dedication this line of work will require.

    Both me and this woman have been inspired to be a part of this particular career. However, my driving force differs from hers. My parents have always been hard workers. Nothing could stop them from getting the task done. However, eventually the stress of life got to them and they began using drugs. I witnessed them taking drugs several times a day. I was too young at the time (about eight or nine years old) to fully understand the gravity of the situation. As the years progressed, so did their drug dependence. It was the worst feeling in the world to watch my family struggle with money and then go out and buy drugs. I still cannot fathom their reasoning for such an action.

    Being a direct victim of the affects of drug abuse, has been an advantage to me. Not only has this experience deterred me from trying drugs, it has also shaped me into the woman I am today. I have been inspired to help children and families that are going through similar difficulties. I want to be the one person that those children can look up to and feel encouraged. I am more excited than ever to start this career.

  • It’s great to read about someone who really enjoys the work they do. Many people start college with the notion that a degree automatically awards them a high paying job.
    This is not the right mentality to have toward college. I’m a Mira costa college transfer student and it has taken me a few years to realize this. The women in this article is has an intruiging and inspiring sory. Going with your gut and rolling with the punches is a big part of college life, as well as the real world, in relation to the job market.
    An honest job that betters the community and improves the moral of others earns my respect and should be a baseline that we should all strive to acheive.

  • I can tell that this women really is good at her job. She knows how to compose herself ad really is willing to help people I really want to help people as well when I become a psychiatrist. I can see that she has a good heart .

  • I hold a PhD in psychology with emphasis in substance abuse counseling. I have not worked long in the field but the burn out working with people who are mentally ill presents a unique challenge. It is self fulfilling if you help somebody in life overcome drug abuse but I am a very handy person and love to see what I produce with my hands. That is why when I was informed by my friend that there is a very strong welding and NDT technology department at the University of Alaska, I did not hesitate to start a new career from scratch. I have never done welding,never, ever in my life, but this is like a dream come true. My successes has in deed provided me the opportunity to encourage other minorities to join this noble career that deals with quality and safety. I am indeed proud for having realized my passion late than never. I hope to be able to continue and with a spirit of giving back to make the world a safer place and ensure quality for a better quality of life.

  • I can really relate to this professional in two ways. One my moms ex husband is an alcoholic, who is also believed to be addicted to cocaine. Two my youngest brother is disabled, and is Autistic.

    Growing up with an autistic brother was extremely hard on the entire family. We had to see him struggle in order to be able to live a normal life, and we had to witness him fight hard to be able to accomplish what everyone else wanted him to be able to accomplish. Through hard work he was able to do just that, although he now needs to be on medication due to other issues that have come about due to his disability.

    My mom was married to her ex husband for about nine years. While being married he was very much addicted, and with his addiction came abuse towards my mother. My mom would always try to hide the pain that she was in, but there was always something that didn’t feel right with their relationship. I always knew that she wasn’t happy, and I also knew that it had to do with a bigger issue than just the alcohol addiction. After learning about the abuse I vowed to never drink alcohol. This can be seen as both a positive and a negative, because it is part of the adult social life that has been stripped from me, due to someone who has committed horrific actions towards my mom. Although I have never gone to an abuse counselor I do feel that if I hadn’t found a program in school with a peer advisor, I would be completely lost and would definately need to seek help from an abuse counselor.

  • This is a very inspiring story, and I have so much respect for the profession you have chosen. I am a twenty year old college student and I have been battling addiction since around my freshman year of high school. Thanks to many specialists such as yourself I have been off narcotics for five years and sober in Alcoholics Anonymous for almost a year. Since I have been sober I have realized how much help people in your profession offer, I was not only helped to overcome my addiction, but given another chance to live a fulfilling life.

    Since my sobriety I have had a desire to give back, and help others as the many people I have encountered in my battle with addiction have helped me. I currently volunteer at the women’s jail and prison located in my city by running AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings for the inmates. When I first went in I had the same reaction you discussed, about people thinking you were too young to provide any assistance. In reality I’m a twenty year-old college student with no formal training. However, between my desire to be of service and help anyone I could, and my life experience I was able to win these women’s trust and eventually make a difference for some of the women I encountered. Despite my age, and lack of formal training I truly believe I was, and continue to make a difference with the women I have the privilege to speak with and help.

    Your story of overcoming so many obstacles in your own life, and then helping others to overcome their own is truly an inspiration. The job you do is absolutely not easy, but from personal experience I assure you it means the world to the people you help. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and for the amazing career you have chosen.

  • When we experience tragedy, such as the devastation of losing a loved one, it can have such a profound effect with our future decisions. I understand the pain this substance abuse counselor felt, with the sudden loss of her mom. While some people may react by “shutting down”, she sought out professional help. Because of people choosing the field of substance abuse counseling, many people are able to overcome their battle with addiction.
    In August of 2002; three days after my birthday, my mom passed away from a staff infection she had developed from a hernia surgery. It seemed surreal that she was fine two weeks before; then gone. My way of dealing with the pain was to shut down to all those around me; while my son to deal with his grief, decided to start self-medicating; .
    It would take a little over a year before I realized what my son was doing to himself. I had shut him out when he needed me the most. Because of my selfishness I almost lost my him; this was my wake-up call. Within days he sought out the help of a substance abuse counselor. The extensive counseling he received was a success.
    That was almost nine years ago, and I am happy to say my son is doing great in both his personal and career choices. Because of people; who like this substance abuse counselor, posses a certain gift to heal both the mind and soul; my son is still on this earth. Thank you!

  • This article really hit home with me because she used her grief to empower her to change her career path and makle a difference. A similar thing happened to me. When I was 20 years old, I delivered first child 5 ½ weeks early. It was discovered shortly after her birth that she had a rare terminal disorder. She lived for nine days until I had her baptized and taken off life support. She died 7 hours later in my arms. I would never have been able to make it through such a traumatic time period in my life if there had not been a neonatal grief counselor with me every step of the way. That experience changed my life in many ways, including the career path I want to pursue. I plan to start the Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling program for the 2013-2014 school year at the University of Phoenix. Upon graduation, I am going to pursue a career as a grief counselor. My ultimate goal is to work in close relationship with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at a respectable hospital to support families who experience similar misfortunes.

  • I can understand what she was feeling in this article. I too have suffered a personal loss and I can say that with time you feel better but the hurt from the loss never goes away. Just like her, I chose to focus my energy into something that can benefit my life. Any part of the healtcare field will be a challenge because you deal with people who may or may not want to be helped. You definitely have to be passionate about it and it is not a field a person should get into if they are just looking for a job that pays well.

  • This woman’s struggles has created a champion underdog outcome. Against all odds this woman is mending broken hearts. Through the death of her Mother and the loss of a career path that she originally wanted, she broke through as a shining star.

    Her drive and motivation is what kept her on the road to complete her academics and created the will for dreaming and setting goals for herself. Commendable! Inspiring! Willingness to do the footwork necessary to keep going! No matter what!

    I, too, share this type of willingness. I was once addicted to drugs and alcohol. Many years ago, while addicted, I lost the trust of my family, the integrity I once possessed, and myself. One day I woke up behind a dumpster, I had lost my apartment, and said to myself ‘enough is enough’. I got help and became willing to do the footwork necessary to get back on my feet. Five years later, here I am; Married (with children), going to school (for human services), have a home, own a car, have my family’s trust again, and I have my sanity back.

    I may have not gone through exactly what this woman went through, but, I can certainly identify with her willingness and motivation to do well for herself.

  • Becoming a mother at a young age totally took my life off of course. I always wanted to be an attorney as far back as I could remember. I learned that my child was special needs at birth. I had no clue as to how I would provide for him since I believed that becoming an attorney was out of the question. It took me ten years to figure that it wasn’t too late.

    After visiting a relative in prison I decided that I wanted to see how they were living and being treated. This gave me the idea to become a correctional officer. As I worked for the state jail

    I realized that I could still reach my goal in becoming an attorney so now I’m currently enrolled at the University of Phoenix where I will obtain my Bachelors in Criminal Justice and continue on to enroll in law school.

  • From the day i was born both my mother and father faced serious drug and alcohol abuse problems. My father is an alcoholic and was abusive to my mother throughout my childhood, and as a child i didn’t know any better.

    As i got into my early teenage years my parents filled for divorced due to my fathers alcohol and drug problems. Only a few years later my mother showed up to her job highly intoxicated and was fired and then sent to rehab. With me not able to stay with my alcoholic father or mother in rehab, i was forced to stay with my grandmother for a short while. When my mother came out of rehab she was a more responsible person and parent. My father began Alcoholics Anonymous when i reached high school and has now been sober for 4 years.

    Because of these troubling experiences as a child, i had no voice but to grow up faster than other children around me. I had to care for my younger sister then neither of my parents were responsible enough to do so. It has impacted me in a very negative way, but has also greatly contributed to the responsible and caring person that i am today. Going through such a thing, I’ve told stories of my experiences to AA meetings and family members going through similar situations. The only thing to do after experiencing some of the things i did is to do my best on helping others that were and are in my shoes.

  • I am so happy that I read this article because I can relate to
    this lady and what she has gone through. Although I have not graduated college
    and earned a degree yet, I still have faced many challenges and obstacles.
    These obstacles could have discouraged me from trying to pursue my dreams and
    reach my goals but instead they encouraged me to work harder. I feel as if the
    lady in this article faced obstacles and challenges as well, but instead of
    giving up she continued to pursue her career. After reading this article I can
    say that her story and the information she shared are things I will never forget
    and I am happy that she has succeeded and enjoys her career.

  • Discrimination is everywhere. There is discrimination for being to young or to old. I admire the author above because she has overcome discrimination for being “to young”. I always wanted to become a Psychologist or a Conselour; but I had to drop out of the University just 8 classes before graduation with a GPA of 3.8 because of financial hardship. I feel that I am still a winner because when I came to this Country I didn’t even know how to speak English.

  • I understand where she is coming from. It is hard to fight certain challenges in life like substance abuse or other mental blocks that would just ruin your day. I went through depression in high school and survived the terrible experience. We always find ways to fight the obstacles that stand in our way. I admire the courage she has for being a mother of three and having one with special needs. I have a Childhood Education background where I have interviewed families with children with special needs and it can be a struggle. I have seen documentaries, such as the young girl named January living with schizophrenia, who tries to overcome her fears as well. Being a counselor and a parent is hard to handle. There is such greatness and strength I see in these individuals who strive for happiness and never stop trying. We need more people like them who can beat all odds in a world of diverse jobs.

  • I understand where she is coming from. It is hard to fight certain challenges in life like substance abuse or other mental blocks that would just ruin your day. I went through depression in high school and survived the terrible experience. We always find ways to fight the obstacles that stand in our way. I admire the courage she has for being a mother of three and having one with special needs. I have a Childhood Education background where I have interviewed families with children with special needs and it can be a struggle. I have seen documentaries, such as the young girl named January living with schizophrenia, who tries to overcome her fears as well. Being a counselor and a parent is hard to handle. There is such greatness and strength I see in these individuals who strive for happiness and never stop trying. We need more people like them who can beat all odds in a world of diverse jobs.

  • I understand where she is coming from. It is hard to fight certain challenges in life like substance abuse or other mental blocks that would just ruin your day. I went through depression in high school and survived the terrible experience. We always find ways to fight the obstacles that stand in our way. I admire the courage she has for being a mother of three and having one with special needs. I have a Childhood Education background where I have interviewed families with children with special needs and it can be a struggle. I have seen documentaries, such as the young girl named January living with schizophrenia, who tries to overcome her fears as well. Being a counselor and a parent is hard to handle. There is such greatness and strength I see in these individuals who strive for happiness and never stop trying. We need more people like them who can beat all odds in a world of diverse jobs.

  • I understand where she is coming from. It is hard to fight certain challenges in life like substance abuse or other mental blocks that would just ruin your day. I went through depression in high school and survived the terrible experience. We always find ways to fight the obstacles that stand in our way. I admire the courage she has for being a mother of three and having one with special needs. I have a Childhood Education background where I have interviewed families with children with special needs and it can be a struggle. I have seen documentaries, such as the young girl named January living with schizophrenia, who tries to overcome her fears as well. Being a counselor and a parent is hard to handle. There is such greatness and strength I see in these individuals who strive for happiness and never stop trying. We need more people like them who can beat all odds in a world of diverse jobs.

  • I can relate to the satisfaction that she feels when helping others overcome tremendous obstacles in their lives. I come from a very disadvantaged background that was extremely abusive and addiction was a normal part of life. After breaking free from this lifestyle I have chosen to help others who struggle with similar problems. I volunteer with the local recovery community in my area, I plan on using my education to further my commitment to helping struggling individuals with addiction problems.

  • Thank you for sharing your story! I have worked in the field first as a health care provider to homeless youth, and then as a crisis mental health counselor in residential treatment facilities in San Francisco. I was drawn to this field due to witnessing first-hand the devastating effects of trauma and substance abuse in my own family. Your commitment to your life’s work despite hardship and struggle is truly inspirational. I am currently pursuing my Master’s degree in public health and aspire to eventually create my own program working with communities to heal trauma through creative arts projects. As trauma survivors, we have important stories to share to those who are in need of support or a compassionate listener that will understand where they are coming from. Keep up the fantastic work!

  • I can relate this this story on so many level. I always new that I wanted to be in a helping profession but I never knew that a school counselor would be my calling. I know that I had an interest in working with youth and that I have a strong interest in education but it wasn’t until I started to go through all of the problems that comes with life that I figured that I really want to be able to help youth get through there problems. I never really experienced deep trauma until I got to college and I know that as a young person, it has to be extremely difficult to deal with.

  • I think it is amazing that your job is to help broken people. Sometimes people are too head strong and dont want to admit they need help to better themselves and I think that you have the perfect job to give these people a helping push. We need more happy people in society. Things like addiction are hard cases. Being a female in your field gives hope to others because its like saying “yeah even though Im a lady I still have a good head over my shoulders.”

  • This article was truly an inspiration to me. I am pursuing my Masters in Counseling and I have similar aspirations as the substance abuse counselor. Being a counselor does require patience, understanding and the ability to be non-judgmental. I commend her on her strive, endurance, and dedication to her profession. This article provided me with light at the end of the tunnel. That my career choice will be very well worth it and satisfying.

  • You give females hope.There is a stigmatism against females because of who we are.We are supposdly to emotional to this and to that.WE as well can hold amazing jobs as the oppsite sex.I truly think you for your strive and progress in life.I want to be a sex and relationship therapist.And that is going to be an extremly hard road for me to do.AS to having failed before hand.And attempting a second round at school.More focus.Again thank you

  • I applaud you to have such a caring heart, my mother is also a nurse, she recently got her degree.It has been difficult so far, as a much older woman it is easy for her to get over looked. She has made so much sacrifice for us, and I want to be able to do the same for her. I was an high school drop out, and my mom encouraged me to get my G.E.D. If it was not for her I would not be in school full time pursuing my dreams. I have two people in my family that are mentally disabled. I found myself working with them, to get better.
    The family has tried to get help before but after a while they find it difficult to work with them, because they fight the people trying to help. I helped the boy with his speech problem, and it has improved tremendously. I hope you get to open your own practice, that is my dream also.

  • To have a heart that longs to help others is a true gift, this article has truly inspired me to work towards my goal to become a substance abuse counselor. Not everyone has a heart that is willing and wanting to help those in need, and this woman has the blessing of having a giving heart. I have seen first hand how counseling can heal a broken soul, home, or family. After reading this article i was encouraged to do whatever it takes to accomplish my goal. Knowing that i will face obsticals and will have to make sacrifices only makes me want to work harder and overcome any challange that my futaure might hold.

  • I believe that you will always face trials in life but it is the perspective in which you choose to see those trials that will get you through them. Her story is so encouraging because I see a woman that is dedicated to meeting the needs of others. She is selfless of herself and a women like her is to be praised. There is nothing more rewarding in life than helping people that are most in need.

  • This was a very inspiring article. I,myself, work with children who have been abused by their parents. The children usually are brought into DHS custody because of their parents’ issues such as neglect, abuse, or sexual abuse. Substance Abuse is an ongoing problem. Many people get hooked on drugs and will not seek help because they do not think that they have a problem.

    Also there is a stigma in receiving any type of counseling, but counseling is a great tool in order to receive help. I find myself in my current place of employment, of giving advice and counseling clients about their issues. This article just brought home to me why i have chosen to become a Licensed Psychologist: I want to help children and adults and I want to be an inspirations to others as well. It also made me see that my goals and dreams that I have set for myself are not in vain and I will continue to strive to achieve all my educational goals.

  • Behind Closed Doors
    After reading this article my heart, mind and body knew that this was the article to respond too. I am 28 yrs old, but I have been through so many challenges in life. I do not dwell on them, but take them with pride. A few years ago, I was working as a medical assistant at a clinic that had the suboxone treatment for people who wanted to get off drugs. They were not only chemical dependent, but had anxiety and depression as well. At the time, I was also going through a rough time in my life; I had a secret that nobody knew about, I myself was addicted to pain pills. The doctor that I worked for had no idea what these people were going through, he had no guidance for them, no understanding and no time to sit there and at least talk to them. I took over that roll because I knew exactly what they were going through. I helped them get through by guiding them, understanding them and the one thing they most appreciated was I listening to them. At the same time, they were helping me, even though they did not know. If the doctor would have just sat down with them and had the time to listen, he would have known that his patients had a good heart, good intentions and just wanted his attention for at least once. One day the clinic became a complete disaster, someone accused sexual harassment on the doctor. Soon after, his license was taking away and we had all these patients become even more depressed and had more anxiety. He sold all his patients to another doctor who did not take state insurance, so that was the most selfish move the doctor could of done, but money, money, money was what the doctor cared about. I took it upon myself to research on doctors who did take state insurance and I did get all my patients in with some other doctor to continue their treatment. During that time I was so depressed, that I knew my job would end shortly, I was down to 97lbs, literally lost my mind and hated the world. It has been two years ago since this has happened; the clinic closed down and I have been clean ever since. It took me a very long time to heal, but I take one day at a time and continue my journey “Riding down a rough road with hope, courage and gratitude.”

  • After reading this story I truly feel inspired, I am going to school to be a teacher right now I’m in the process of receiving my associates and sometimes financial issues have made it hard for me to complete school sooner. After reading her interview/ story it touched my heart. She turned her tragedy into a triumph, I have always wanted to become a substance abuse counselor and help families who suffer from it as well. Growing up my father was an alcoholic and a drug addict and my mother was a drug addict,(Which she is no longer) most people wouldn’t know because they were able to hide it so well. Due to these addictions I was scarred and it has also pushed me to want to become a better person and I have by the Grace of God and a better parent someday. To this day my parents are still in my life but through many trials in life I suffered greatly, Most people think that when you enter into a field at a young age you may not have enough knowledge or wisdom which shouldn’t be the determining factor at all. She suffered a great loss which was her Mother most people couldn’t handle being put in her situation. This story made me realize you can do anything, through any trial you are able to obtain victory I’m sure she still grieves over her Mother daily yet she continues to press on and ended up finding a career she truly loves this story is heartwarming and I’m sure through her trials we can learn from her.

  • This article make me really happy to know there are amazing people out
    there that care and want to help others, I hope to find a career helping
    people, even when you seek that sometimes it’s hard to accomplish. I can totally relate about the age discrimination, I am young (26) but I look like I could be 16. I worked managing a spa for about a little over a year and I was the youngest person in my department. I feel they only gave me the position because they needed someone, and working with upper management was a huge challenge. I kept everything running smoothly but when it came to my suggestions or requests I was constantly blown off and was never given full control of my department like the previous managers.

  • I agree with what you are saying. I feel that at times I would like too be a substance abuse counselor just because of the experiences that I have had to deal with it personally. I do not think that age has any thing to do with it. I get criticized for my age a lot but then that’s because I look like a twelve year old so I do know how you feel/

  • As a kid and an adult I was involved in abusive relationships directly and indirectly. In my childhood my grandmother removed me from the environment. All I could think about were the contributing events, people, and his or her actions.

    In school continue to make A’s and B’s but the mental state remained of what I had experienced. As time went on my grandmother continued to strengthen my self esteem, confidence, and trust. But somehow I became engaged in abusive relationships. All I knew was abuse as my father lived and exposed me to it. I even
    became a victim of being bullied in school and social circles as I knew nothing different.

    My grandmother would ask me when will I learn as she did not raise me in that manner. I became pregnant at the age of 20 had two kids for an abusive individual and married him. My grandmother would just nod her head and tell me she cannot believe what was going on. My grandmother would tell me what I was doing was a mistake but I continued the relationship.

    Well the abusiveness worsen, until I sustained a broken nose to bring some sense of positive direction to me. I separated from the individual but continued the marriage until three years ago, I finally broke the curse as the divorce was finalized. I began to pray and forgive and life began to move forward.

    I retired from a job of 28 years, started a new career, enrolled into college. Now I am a candidate for a Bachelors in Science/Business Management with advancement opportunities awaiting. Yes the abusiveness is something that will never be forgotten but has been removed as an obstacle of me moving forward. My social circle and activities are guiding lights of staying focus and removing the ‘riff raft’ out of my life.

    My grandmother is deceased and did not get the opportunity of being involved in my life changing paths, but before she passed I promised her I would not let her down. I know she has angels upon me and is present in my accomplishments. Upon graduation I will be enrolling in the MBA Program and continue to doctoral status.

    When it is for you and you know it is, obstacles only enables your strength and broadens your path of success, I am a living testimony!

  • I can completely relate to this story. I am a 35 year old mother of five small children my oldest being 11, and my youngest being 1. My oldest son who is nine has ADHD, it is very overwhelming trying to control him I have to watch the way I talk to him or he gets super angry, and emotioinal. It is very hard to deal with this along with the other 4. I also work 72 hours a week at a state nursing home nights twelve hour shifts, sleep three hours a day, and then I have school. The childrens father and I have recently divorced because of his substance, physical, and mental abuse I was in this marriage for twenty years I was sixteen when I married the 28 year old. He was very controlling, and jealous so I was forced to drop out of high school aty the age of sixteen.
    In May 2006 my daughter Savannah passed away from SIDS I thought my life was over, and I wanted it to be, but I had three babies to think of. It was hard for me to talk about her, it still is but now I want to talk about her it wasn’t until someone being concerned and called social services, and said “I needed professional help” when social services came to my home to follow up with their concernd call they approached my husband who was very intoxicated, and he opened up a whole new can beans per say. The focus turned to him because we have children in the home, he wasd asked to do an alcohol evauation and refused, so he was removed from the home. That was the day my life turned around it was a god scent that social services came for years I was to afraid to leave, so by social services having an order to have him removed from the home it was a start. We were both ordered to talk to a counselor, and this is when I found myself. In December,2010 I had my son, in January 2011 I was enrolled in college persuing a degree in human services.

  • I can completely relate to this story. In fact, when I first thought about going to college I always thought I would become a police officer. However, after the divorce of my parents and watching half of my family consume their lives in alcohol, I became addicted to both drugs and alcohol. I suffered from substance abuse all of my teenage years.
    Finally, when I was 23 I became pregnant and knew that it was time to change my life. Now, I am almost 5 years sober. When I decided to continue my education I chose psychology right away. I want to be able to help people who have been in similar situations I was in.
    Coming from a divorced family and as family filled with alcoholics can be very stressful for a young teenage girl. I want them to know that there is help out there, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I want to help these people in any way I can.
    I have both the patience and the heart to help these people. Not only that, but I myself have struggled with substance abuse, and many other situations that they would probably relate too.
    I really enjoyed reading this story. It has motivated me even more!

  • I put my career on hold because I was a young mother and I was completely ovewhelmed with it. I soon discovered my true calling and have face many of the adversitys you have, and to this day i dont know how i was strong enough to make it through to where i am now. Your story is truly inspiring thank you for sharing.

  • I was touched by your life story. I also have a child born with a
    disability. My daughter was born with Spina Bifada and red hair. I
    mention the red hair with the disability together because she was a
    little ball of fire and fought through many adversities. I was told she
    would never walk or crawl and would be mentally challenged. None of
    which came true. She has been my inspiration and gave me the strength
    to get my nursing degree at 40. I am now 65 years old and need a change
    of pace and want to find a new way to help people. We moved to a
    community that has a high rate of homeless people that I would like to
    obtain a degree in Human Services so that I may be able to help the
    homeless re-enter society.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. You are an inspiration for all women who are seeking a career. I am truly encouraged by your ability to move forward after your mom died. Thank you for giving to others who need what you have to give.

  • I put off fulfilling my dream career when my mother in law suffered a brain anurism. It happened the night before my GNA exam. There was a deadline to take the test because I was already working in a nursing home and eventually my time was up. She recovered, but during that time I decided to pursue a business degree.
    Today, I am satisfied with the path I have chosen but like the woman in this story I too face age discrimination for my youthful appearance. This story is an inspiration to so many who overcome obstacles and keep pushing to become a success.

  • I share so many similarities to this story. I too had to put off pursuing my “dream career” because of the diagnosis of cancer in a parent, my father. After his death, it seemed as though my life was a series of illnesses, caregiving, and deaths. Along the way, substance abuse has made its presence known not only in friends, but family members as well. Finally, in the early Spring of 2010, I was encouraged, by a very special nephew, to go to college and pursue my dream. Going back to school to reach my goal, has become a Godsend in so many different ways, and it has quite literally become a lifesaver for me. I lost that “very special nephew, Christopher,” in a car accident, just a couple of months into my college career. Although I have always known how precious life is, I now have extra motivation to reach my goal. Going to college after having suffered such a tragic loss was hard at first, but it gave me a focus in my daily life. I am now a 50 year old college student, that will not give up until I see a “Dr.” in front of my name, and I know that I can do it!!!

  • I think most mothers and daughters, and anyone committed to the health care field, makes sacrifices. It isn’t just what we do, it’s what we are. The most amazing thing is I don’t think we consider them sacrifices.
    I am a 60 year old single mother of three with one child, my 18 year old son, still at home. I’ve never had the responsibility of a physically disabled child like the individual in the above interview, but I was lucky enough to have two sons with ADHD and a daughter with ADD. I feel blessed to be their mother.
    I obviously don’t have a problem being too young, or appearing to be too young, but after I lost my job I was feeling too old to start all over. Not long after that I watched a special on Betty White. She began her Golden Girls carreer at age 60. So here I am, halfway through my RN to BSN program and excited about starting this new carreer phase.

  • I have to say her story can be related to in so many ways. I have made many decisions for my life to make sure that I keep my family together. The death of my mother also affected me in many ways. I relocated and had to stop attending school to be able to work and take care of my children and my mother. I love the fact that she was strong enough to make sure she accomplished her goals and has made even bigger goals. Strength and patience.

  • I got my first job at the age of 14 at ” Cold Stone Creamery.” By the age of 16 I became a General Manager of two stores, and me being the youngest person working there made it very difficult for me to stay positive at all times. I can relate to this article because people and co workers always tend to look down on me or make inappropriate when they find out my age and marital status, I am 18 now. I have always tried to do my best and be an example for even the older co workers around me. Knowing that I am doing my best and being awarded for my work has helped me stand on my feet and always encourage me to strive my best in everything I do no matter the age.

  • I can feel how a traumatic and tragic even in her life caused her world to come to a complete halt.
    She made the choice to care for her mom ( bravo ), she was with her for her last days and that is a beautiful thing that she did not only for her mom, but for herself. In doing this she also needed to find help to help her heal from her loss. She found her calling for helping others through the loss of her mother. I admire her strength, will, determination and heart.

  • I can empathize completely with her on how the diagnoses and death of her mother changed her life and career path. That is a life event can make you question what you purpose in life is and recognize just how short life really is. Additionally, I have experience with both age and gender discrimination when I was in sales and can relate to obstacles that result from that sort of treatment. I appreciate her positive outlook and ambition. I found this interview be enlightening and reassuring.

  • This is an awesome story on how people can bend so much to almost be broken and come back to be something awesome.

  • At the age of nineteen, I worked with the United States Small Business Administration for hurricane Rita and Katrina. My counterparts felt I was too young in age and displayed a sense of discrimination. Like the substance abuse counselor who overcame grief and age discrimination, located our career stories, I persevered and stayed true to my responsibilities in Texas and New Orleans. Helping the victims of hurricane Rita and Katrina has been the most rewarding experience in my life. I can only hope my professional career in business can reciprocate.

  • I love the correlation the Substance Abuse Counselor makes with not being able to become a Heart Surgeon and feeling “like a heart surgeon” because she’s “working every day on broken hearts”.

    • This mirrors my own life in ways due to the need for resilience among other things. When I was 4, I had my first operation. I was diagnosed with a Congenital Short Femur. I couldn’t walk well and I was curving my spine. The other kids I met with the same diagnoses were depressed, anxious and had generally given up hope of walking. At age 7, I was in a hospital bed when a doctor walked in and said that it was unlikely I would walk again.
      After that, I was in and out of the hospital and a wheelchair, when I wasn’t in a wheelchair I was using a walker. I couldn’t play outside often and I slowly felt this tremendous sadness. It worsened as I saw how hopeless the kids around me felt. But slowly I saw a change in the children around me.
      In the hospital, there were trained psychologists that would walk about and talk to children and when this woman talked to me, she gave me hope. After that, I knew I wanted to help people and push them to have hope and courage. I knew wanted to also mend the hearts of people. This story reflects the resilience I also had to possess as well as the way it showed me the path I needed to be on.
      Thank you for this story, it truly resonated with me.