Preparing Student’s for real life
In my time working with adolescents, I’ve been blessed to work for some very good programs. In fact, I believe that most programs in our industry are ethical and do the best they can for their clients. While we may approach this task through different models, most have sound therapeutic models and deliver services that help improve mental health and cognitive growth. That being said, I have never worked for a program quite like Sunrise – one that provides a balance of outstanding clinical, residential and academic work while truly preparing students to return home and thrive in the “real world”. Although there are so many stories I could share about girls and families who have received excellent services at Sunrise and are now thriving at home, I want to focus on three who are either still enrolled at Sunrise or recently graduated.
A student’s journey
Last week one of our students who is currently attending school full-time at Dixie State University was in my office. We were reviewing her progress and upcoming transition, hopefully this spring. Sammie* was reviewing all the progress she has made since arriving last May and how different her life looks moving forward. When I asked Sammie what she was most concerned about regarding her graduation from Sunrise, she reported that she had a solid plan for her academic path, but was concerned about moving into the St. George community and finding friends whom could support her new found values of sobriety and a healthy lifestyle. Sammie remarked that while she is currently attending Dixie, she doesn’t have many opportunities to engage socially as she is focused on her class work while on campus. I told her that I have a close friend who supervises the clubs and student activities on campus as asked if she would like me to introduce them. Sammie was thrilled about the possibility and I immediately called my friend to arrange a lunch date the following Monday.
I met Sammie on campus following her College Calculus class the next Monday and we proceeded to our meeting spot for lunch. While we were ordering lunch, I heard my name being shouted from across the deli where we were eating and turned to see a previous Sunrise student, who also decided to stay in the area and attend Dixie State University, running toward me with open arms. We hugged and she then took me to her table to introduce me to her roommate. As I watched Alex* interact and laugh with her roommate, sharing funny stories of their recent adventures, I couldn’t help but think back to the girl I met just a year before . . . one literally crippled with anxiety and unable to engage in reciprocal relationships. We talked briefly as they were heading to the gym, and as we left we promised to meet for dinner soon to talk more about Alex’s life and the wonderful things she is doing.
I then rejoined Sammie and my friend, who were discussing Sammie’s many talents and how she would be an asset to almost any organization on campus. After finishing our lunch, we were leaving the Holland building when I ran into another previous Sunrise student who is living independently in the area and taking classes at Dixie. She was excited to tell me about the classes she is taking, her job, and how thankful she is for the things she learned at Sunrise. When looking at her Facebook page later, I saw the following post.
“We’re taught college is the time in your life to “experiment with scary things” like drugs or things you know down in your soul are risky. For me, that’s exactly what college is. I challenged myself to be an adult early and avoid things like crazy parties and smoking and bad influences in my life. Everyone in my life right now who is at all close to me is a support towards me. I used to think engaging in risky behaviors and getting messed up was the best part of life and that friends just come along with that lifestyle. Not true. I used to think being lonely was the worst thing, but being with people who don’t care about you and just want to drink, smoke or whatever is far worse. I’m 108372028% more happy with the few people I have in my life and being independent and healthy. I am still working on some things every day like holding boundaries, but I know now this lifestyle is so much brighter. I know I can finish college which is crazy because I never thought I would finish high school. Thanks, Sunrise Residential Treatment Center.”
As I said at the beginning of this blog, I’ve been blessed to work for great programs in my career. But, I have never worked for a program that prepares girls for the real world like Sunrise does. Real life is what we’re all about!
*names have been changed