Degree program helps counselor communicate with clients – Sherry Lowe ’18
"It was about making myself a better person so I can help others help themselves"
As a recovering addict, Sherry Lowe has experienced her share of struggles.
Now a drug and alcohol counselor, it was her degree program in Human Services Administration from Antioch University Online that strengthened her abilities to serve her clients experiencing the very same struggles.
A Leadership course with Paul Lucas expanded her ability to write and communicate effectively and think critically. “He was willing to meet me where I was at and encouraged and empowered me even though it was uncomfortable,” she said. “It helped my ability to interview clients because he taught me how to ask a question the right way.”
Raised in a small town in New Hampshire, Lowe endured tragedy at a young age when she wasn’t equipped to understand.
She never thought she’d graduate from high school, let alone attend college. After high school, she was married and later divorced her high school sweetheart. She became addicted to drugs and arrested, disappointing herself and her family.
She moved to Ohio for a fresh start at the urging of a friend she met online – a friend who is now her husband.
After being sober for a little more than a year, she started on a path to help others struggling with addiction. She earned her associate’s in Applied Science majoring in chemical dependency about a decade ago and got her first job working as a drug and alcohol counselor. At that point, she hadn’t considered continuing her education.
Her motivation came from the desire to prove to herself she could earn a college degree – something no one in her family had done.
After a long break and much encouragement from family and friends, she decided to work toward her bachelor’s degree, which landed her at Antioch University.
As an adult student with a full-time job and family, the flexibility an online degree program offered was a key to her success.
Her professors were another.
Many of her courses resonated with her on a personal level. For instance, her Leadership course with Paul Lucas helped her learn to have compassion for others, be passionate about her work and to realize being a good leader is a journey through many life lessons.
“Experience and Expressions” with Professor Lisa Prosek allowed her to reflect on her life through sharing stories, struggles, and successes.
She wrote a memoir of four life-changing events for the course, which she said was difficult for her because it involved her family tragedy and the death of a close friend.
“She was super-genuine – there’s no other way to describe her,” said Lowe of her professor. “When I sent her the memoir she said ‘Oh my gosh! You’ve been through a lot!’ She listened to my story. It wasn’t just an assignment to her.”
Not only did she not feel any judgment from any of her professors, they gave her feedback that made sense.
Today Lowe works in a 28-day residential program as a residential counselor for men.
“People get tired of the same story,” she said. “I have nine clients and literally every one would tell you I’m a caring, compassionate person. They say, ‘She really cares about us – she will help us in any way she can.'”
The rewards are mutual.
“I love my job – I like to see that lightbulb moment (from my clients),” she said. “It also helps keep me clean every day.”
For Lowe, her education strengthened the path she was on.
“It was about making myself a better person so I can help others help themselves,” she said. “It enhanced me as a professional. I like the woman I am today because of my experience at Antioch.”