Hi, nice to meet you! First off I would like to introduce myself, my name is Alana and I am 26 years old. I am starting the Community Mental Health and Addictions Worker (CMHAW) diploma program with Stenberg College today (October 17, 2016).
I have been working at a long term residential treatment centre for women healing from addiction that takes a holistic approach to recovery. My experience has shown me that there is much more for me to learn and to understand about mental health and substance use.
I searched for a program that would equip me with the knowledge and tools needed to work in this field.
After looking at a number of different colleges and their programs, I walked into Stenberg College and quickly discovered that this was the school for me.
Everyone I spoke to was welcoming and extremely helpful. I arranged a meeting with a program advisor and was blown away as she took the time to get to know me, find out about my interests and passions and ensure that the program they offered was the right fit for me. I began the registration process and wrote the entrance exam that same morning. I registered for this program in January of this year thinking that the October start would allow me time to put structures in place so that when school did begin I would be adequately prepared for this full time course. Now I realise, as much as I had prepared, nothing could have truly readied me for what was to happen along the way.
In late September 2016 I received an e-mail informing me that a scholarship was being offered for my program and applications were due September 30th. In 2011, Stenberg College worked in collaboration with Karen O’Shannacery and a number of outreach societies to put together the CMHAW program. Karen is the founder and former executive director of the Lookout Emergency Aid Society, a charitable organization and social safety net that provides housing and a range of support services to adults with low or no income and lack housing or support options. In August of this year, in celebration of Karen’s 45 years of supporting Metro Vancouver’s most vulnerable, Stenberg College announced the creation of the Karen O’Shannacery Scholarship.
One component of the application was an essay about why I want to support people with mental health and addictions issues under a thousand words, so I put a pen to paper and started writing. A thousand words is really not a lot as I found out after having to cut my essay by two thirds! Just days after submitting my application I received a call informing me that my application had been shortlisted and I would be interviewed on Wednesday that week. I changed my schedule and prepared for the interview that would change my life for the better.
Later that day I found out that I was chosen to receive the full scholarship. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and tears as one more door opened for me.
This amazing opportunity reassures me that I am going in the right direction in my life. This program means more to me than just a way to find a job. I want to give back and help people to find a life of happiness. I want to help people access the tools and resources to enable them to succeed and live a productive life that they can be proud of. I look forward to supporting people to see the possibilities life has to offer while challenging the stigma that surrounds mental health and substance use.
I look forward to sharing my experiences in the Community Mental health and Addictions Worker Program with you.