Student Spotlight: Alyson Scott and Recovery 101

By Dr. Jessica Pulis

On a cold Monday morning, an incorrect appointment time led to a chance meeting that was probably fated well before the sun rose. I ran into one of our GASU grads who had gone on to pursue SSW here at Sheridan. Alyson Scott is one of those students you never, ever forget: dedicated, hard-working and hungry for academic knowledge. Alyson came to Sheridan when a friend told her about a similar program she was taking at Humber. Knowing that she wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to pursue yet, coupled with its proximity to her home, Alyson knew GASU would be the perfect program for her. I got to know Alyson in College Success, which is designed to support students in their pathway program and to better prepare them for a successful academic career. The class was full of students who had taken a previous path but were in our GASU program for a second chance or a chance to grow. Alyson was always in class and always asked questions. She spoke openly and honestly of her desire to fulfill her goals, not only for herself but for her one year old son Michael. Alyson also spoke frankly and honestly about her struggle with addiction. Alyson talks about how the glorification of alcohol use in college made her battle with recovery a daily struggle. Alyson persevered but saw some of her colleagues going down a path she knew very well, she had a strong desire to help others and always felt like she “had to do something”.

Photo: Alyson and Michael

So it came as no surprise when she told me during our chance meeting that she recently started Recovery 101. A recovery support group – the first of its kind at Sheridan – for students struggling with addition; a group that is designed for students and is supported completely by students, like Alyson. While other institutions have similar programs, Alyson aptly notes there was nothing like this for students suffering from addition at Sheridan. She notes there were some services available but says as someone who knows personally these were simply not enough. Alyson believes Sheridan should be a safe place for all students and that the pull toward partying and the “bar life” is too great and too strong for those students who battle addiction or are in recovery. Her Recovery 101 group provides peer support for students with an emphasis on harm reduction and long term sobriety and success (whatever these may be for each and every student).

Alyson tells me now that the same morning I was wandering the A-wing she was having a moment very familiar to those in recovery – where the pull to use is stronger than the person and tools they have learned to use to help battle sobriety. She was just about to pack up her bags and head to The Den for a drink when she looked up and saw me. I stopped to hug her and, of course, get an update on how she and Michael were doing. Our conversation, she says, altered the course of her life that day. She never made it to The Den, and continues to be strong and resilient in her own recovery. Alyson will be graduating from SSW this semester and will pursue a Bachelors of Sociology or Criminology at UTM or York in the fall of this year. She has a bright future ahead of her and will be successful in all of her endeavors.

Check out the Flyer for Recovery 101 here:  Recovery 101 Flyer