Grads, Gifts & Gratitude

Students walking to class on campus

Thanks to a Donor-Funded Scholarship, Jennifer's Dream Comes True

Jennifer B. was back in school last summer for her fourth semester in our online master's program in Integrated Recovery for Co-Occurring Disorders. But up until a few months ago, it wasn't a sure thing.

"I was struggling, taking out loans I probably shouldn't have," says Jennifer. "It's very difficult as a single mom."

Then, last May, Jennifer learned she was the first recipient of a new scholarship program, funded by Bennett and Carolyn Rosenthal. Thanks to a generous grant toward her tuition, she's on track to get her degree.

Hazelden Was in the Family

Jennifer's dad was treated at Hazelden for alcoholism when she was a teenager.

A couple of decades later, with her own life derailed by addiction, Jennifer made her way to Hazelden, too. "I lost my nursing license for being impaired on the job," she says. "My husband and I were getting a divorce." She even found herself in jail for six days, after two DUIs.

Worst of all, she lost her two boys. "It goes against every instinct you have as a mother," she says. "But I had to leave them—temporarily—to get the help I needed to get healthy."

Following treatment, Jennifer moved into a sober house. After several months she was asked to become the manager. There she discovered that her nightmarish experiences could be put to good use, helping others.

"That's when I knew I wanted to be a counselor"

"When I was in treatment, I realized how important it is to share with others who understood my story," she said. "I've been through a lot of tough stuff, and I knew I could use my experience to help others get through theirs."

Jennifer got her kids back, found a job waiting tables, and went to college online—all at the same time. After receiving her bachelor's degree, she started a master's program at the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies in the summer of 2016.

It's been very challenging, academically—"The students are such high quality!" said Jennifer. But she knows she's getting the best education available in addiction counseling.

Her goal is to work with women in recovery—particularly those who struggle with opioid addiction, like she did. But for now, she's still glowing from the thrill of getting her kids and life back, and receiving a donor-funded scholarship that will allow her to complete her degree.

"When I got the call about the scholarship, "I held the phone out to let my son hear too. He smiled, his face turned red and his chest popped out," says Jennifer. "My kids had a reason to be proud of their mom again."

"I want Bennett and Carolyn Rosenthal to know how thankful I am. They made such a big difference—not only in my life, but in the lives of everyone in my family."

When I was in treatment, I realized how important it is to share with others who understood my story, I've been through a lot of tough stuff, and I knew I could use my experience to help others get through theirs.

A Graduate School Student Alum
What was the most valuable feature of my graduate school education? The practical experience. We worked 900 hours on the units, which means you get to experience just about everything. The other schools I looked at didn't have anything like that.

Joanne Schmitt
Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies, Class of 2007

Think About It This Way ...

Two of every three of our Graduate School students rely on financial aid in order to pay their tuition. That means without your financial support, two of every three students might never become practicing addiction counselors.

Over the course of a career, a single counselor may be the key to recovery for thousands of people struggling with substance abuse. So please—don't let us lose even one future counselor because of the cost of an education.

Harnessing science, love and the wisdom of lived experience, we are a force of healing and hope ​​​​​​​for families and communities affected by substance use and mental health conditions.