Former fast food manager now helps people recovering from addictions

Former fast food manager now helps people recovering from addictionsNovember 27, 2017

The image to use for this article. Listing image managed through RSS tab. Stephen Ellison

After working in the fast food industry for over ten years and then in a pediatric office for almost two years, Stephen Ellison, 33, has finally found his true calling.  In January 2016, he began taking classes in Midland College’s Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling (ADAC) program and is now a counselor intern at The Springboard Center.

“I guess you might say it was ‘coincidence’ that caused me to get interested in becoming a counselor,” said Ellison.  “I was working in a pediatric office handling billing, coding and referrals when I met a mental health deputy because we were referring a child for counseling.  I was really interested in helping the child and knowing more about counseling services.  The deputy suggested I contact Midland College about their ADAC program.  So, I did, and then I enrolled in classes in January of 2016.  That was one of the best decisions of my life.”

Ellison grew up in Corsicana, TX and graduated in 2002 from Corsicana High School.  Like many teens, he had part-time jobs in fast food restaurants and continued to work while attending Navarro College and later the University of North Texas.  He eventually was promoted to management positions, and in November 2012, Dairy Queen transferred him to manage their restaurant in Seminole.

“West Texas was definitely different from Corsicana,” stated Ellison.  “Fortunately, my older sister Monique and her husband had also moved to West Texas, so I had family in the area.”

Ellison said he grew tired of working in the fast food industry, and that’s when he landed a job working for a pediatric group in Midland.

“I enjoyed working in the pediatric office and probably would still be there had it not been for meeting the mental health deputy and learning about Midland College’s ADAC program,” said Ellison.

Because of Ellison’s previous college credit at Navarro and the University of North Texas, he had already completed much of his core classes, and he was able to complete his Associate of Applied Science degree in just three semesters. 

One of the requirements for his degree was to successfully complete a counseling internship.  So, from August until December of 2016, Ellison interned at The Springboard Center, which offers programs and services for alcohol and drug addiction services.  Members of the management staff at Springboard were so impressed with Ellison that immediately after his internship ended, they hired him on a full-time basis.  He is now a counselor/intern working toward the 4,000-hour requirement to take the Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) exam and become a licensed counselor.

Ellison credits his education at Midland College in helping him succeed at Springboard because of the intimate environment and real world training that MC’s program provided.

Ellison is now taking online courses toward a baccalaureate degree in social work through the University of Texas at Arlington.

In addition to his sister Monique who is an occupational therapy assistant at Health South, other members of Ellison’s family have also moved to West Texas.  His older brother Adrian works in the Permian Basin oil industry, and his younger brother Carlton is employed in the engineering department at Texas Tech in Lubbock.  The only member of his immediate family still in East Texas is his mother Sherretta, who is a school counselor in DeSoto.

“We keep telling my mom that she needs to move to Midland,” laughed Stephen.

At Springboard, Ellison’s responsibilities include performing clinical assessments, developing individualized patient treatment plans and working as a residential counselor.  He has also begun to carry a caseload and facilitate groups. 

 “My career goal is to grow with Springboard,” said Ellison.  “I’ve always been a ‘people person.’  Now instead of serving people burgers, I’m actually providing guidance and emotional support to people who are recovering from addictions.  I wake up in the morning excited knowing that I am going to meet new people and set them on a better path.”

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