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Midland College Student Seeks to Help Others with Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling DegreeJanuary 04, 2019

The image to use for this article. Listing image managed through RSS tab. Gracie Favela

When Gracie Favela came back to school at Midland College (MC) she never thought she would be graduating with a degree in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling (ADAC).

“At first, I was intimidated because substance abuse is a very big word,” said Favela. “A lot of people told me, ‘Gracie, that group of people is a scary population of people to work with.’ At first I believed them on some level, but I searched within myself and I realized all I wanted to do was help others, and the ADAC program was going to be a perfect fit.”

“I love Gracie’s attitude about wanting to help people,” said Stephanie Shelton, Midland College ADAC department chair. “When I first met her, I could clearly see her potential: she is bilingual and fiercely determined to succeed. All these traits make her a great addition to this program.”

Counseling has the ability to change individuals’ lives. Pursuing a career in the ADAC program can be rewarding and challenging. Favela said many people have asked her if she has personally gone through some type of substance abuse to become a counselor. She has not. Favela wants everyone to know that personal experience is not a requirement.

“You learn as you go,” said Favela. “Your history, my history has nothing to do with becoming a good, empathetic counselor. You have to be yourself while learning evidence-based approaches, theories and the reality of substances’ effects on individuals, families and friends.”

Favela now works as a counseling intern at Clover House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Odessa. She facilitates education groups and runs one-on-one counseling sessions.

“I have learned so much from working with these individuals,” said Favela. “I see beyond their imperfections. Their substance abuse problem has clouded a lot of their life and relationships, but they want help to get better. Once you see that progress, it is easy to counsel them.”

Favela credits MC with providing her a solid foundation for her work in the field.

“The teachers in the ADAC program are amazing,” said Favela. “They will work with you. If you talk, they listen. Every professor has been through many different scenarios in the professional world so they are able to build up the students in all the necessary ways. They prepared us a lot mentally as well as academically. Everyday, I go to work and say, ‘I learned that lesson in class!’ ‘Yes, my professors told me about this theory!’ The ADAC program at MC is amazing. It is a small degree but it gets you far.”

One unique feature about the ADAC program is the Cross Campus Connections (C3) program. It is a mentorship program where ADAC majors in their second year are assigned a mentee to meet with throughout the semester. The mentors offer support while receiving a $400 scholarship. Favela was a mentee and a mentor during her time at MC.

“You are not alone in the ADAC program,” said Favela. “It is scary to come back to school. Coming back at my age was very difficult. I had doubts of not being able to do it. I was a stay at home mom till I decided to go to MC. My mentor helped me fit in. I do not think I would have been able to succeed if I did not have that support. Here I am now about to graduate. I took six classes every semester.  I have two kids, and I did it. I have no doubt anyone can go back to school to fulfill his or her dreams.”

Favela plans on continuing her education working toward a social work degree. She hopes to one-day work work with children in foster care.

“It has been amazing to watch Gracie grow and get hired while completing her degree at MC,” said Shelton. “Her personality and academic experience will help her excel beyond this field.”

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