News Wilson Is Gcs 1st Addictions Counseling Online Grad - Garrett College
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Campus News

August 16th, 2022

Wilson is GC's 1st addictions counseling online grad

College partnered with Carroll Co. Workforce Development on pilot effort


Glenn Wilson

First, Glenn Wilson helped himself. Then he set about helping others, aided by the combined efforts of Garrett College and Carroll County Workforce Development.

Wilson's wife died suddenly in 2018. After COVID began, he retired from a career as a corporate IT professional. As a result of the grief and suddenly idle time, Wilson said "a long-time problem with alcohol escalated from unhealthy to dangerous."

Wilson admitted himself to the Ashley Treatment Center in the summer of 2020 and spent the remainder of 2020 "working on recovery and growing in the recovery fellowship – the COVID way, via Zoom."

Sober ever since, Wilson recognized a need to find meaningful work.

"I was bored – I needed to get back to work and find purpose in my life," said Wilson, who made a connection with Carroll County's Business Employment Resource Center (BERC), which recently became Carroll County Workforce Development. In working with Leslie Flanagan and Tammi Casson, Wilson recognized that a career in the addictions counseling field would provide the purpose he was seeking.

That's also where Garrett College entered the picture.

"Garrett College had an addictions counseling program on Maryland's Eligible Training Provider List – one of the only programs on the list that aligned with what Glenn wanted to do," explained Casson, who is an employment consultant with Carroll County Workforce Development. "Garrett was so willing to work with us – the communications were phenomenal and Nicole [Andrews] was just awesome. I can't say enough about how all that played out."

Carroll County's funding and Andrews' scheduling ingenuity allowed Wilson to become a test case for an all-online addictions counseling degree.

"Once we started talking to the College, we found out that most of the classes were in person," recalled Casson. "Nicole did a phenomenal job allowing him to take the coursework he needed and to do it online.

"Glenn was our first client doing any kind of classroom training at Garrett," added Casson. "It worked out exceptionally well – I think he got straight A's the whole time he was there."

Andrews – at that time GC's addictions counseling program director – said the College was anxious to test out an all-online option as a way to expand the program's reach and potential.

The all-online program can have a powerful impact. We can reach a different audience," said Andrews, who now works as a program coordinator for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services' Learning Opportunities Program while still teaching as an adjunct at GC.

"The pool of people interested in this field and the offices that need our graduates are somewhat limited in Garrett County," added Andrews. "With the online program, we can meet needs around the state, both for people looking for training in this field and offices looking for graduates with this skill set."

Andrews said Wilson was an excellent student who helped provide a richer classroom experience for his classmates.

"Glenn had a lot of good insight he could share with his classmates, both from his own personal experience and from our assignments," said Andrews. "In addition to being insightful, you could tell there was an internal vibe that he wanted to give back to the community."

"Nicole was fantastic," said Wilson. "She took all the time we needed to review my past degrees and see where we could cut redundant classes and make the commitment to another degree more palatable.

"After all of Nicole's work and efforts with the team at GC, she was able to present to Tammi and me a program that included about 36 credits," said Wilson who committed to an accelerated full-time program that he finished in 2022, graduating magna cum laude.

Wilson said the core courses within the program were quite conducive to online education.

Everything I did with Nicole was in a small-class setting," said Wilson. "That was no problem – Nicole ran those classes entirely online on [Microsoft] Teams and that was perfect."

Wilson now works at the Right Turn Impact Treatment Center in Eldersburg – where he completed an internship as part of the Garrett College program – as an Alcohol and Drug Trainee (ADT). He is currently studying for his Certified Supervised Counselor – Alcohol and Drug (CSC-AD) certification exam.

Wilson noted that COVID has dramatically increased the need for both addictions counselors and rehabilitation options.

"I hit it [the need for a rehabilitation option] a little early in COVID. By 2021, you couldn't even get a mental health professional," said Wilson.

"The things festering in people certainly manifested themselves in COVID," added Wilson, whose decision to retire from his IT job without anything to replace it proved to be a problem. "If you're borderline addictive, you're going to become an addict when you have nothing but 24 hours a day on your hand."

Yet Wilson's experiences – as difficult as they have been – led him eventually to a place where he can now help others help themselves.

"It's all very interesting in the way it happened," said Wilson. "Five years ago, if you'd said I'd be an addictions counselor – you could have told me I'd be an astronaut and the chances would have been about the same."