Every year, CSUB Extended Education admits students from a variety of backgrounds into the Drug and Alcohol Studies Certificate Program. From doctors to social workers to those recovering from addiction, all these individuals come together to become certified counselors one day.
The Drug and Alcohol Studies program is CSUB's oldest certificate program, operating for 34 years. The two-year program has grown tremendously over the last five years.
Jennifer Patino, Director of Professional and Continuing Education Programs (PACE), said she is grateful to have a position that allows her to watch students flourish.
"One of the things I enjoy about being the director of certificate programs is being able to witness firsthand how these programs change people's lives," Patino said. "That is the biggest enjoyment I get out of this. It changes the life of the student and their family and everyone around them."
One of those students was LaMar Mayes. As a teenager, LaMar was well on his way to becoming a professional skateboarder.
"After bouts of addiction and relapse, I found myself lost, in and out of jails and on the streets," Mayes recounted. "I got clean six years ago, but after having an accident in the oilfields, I had to have back surgery. As I was recovering from my accident, I sank into a deep depression.
"Here I am going from being a pro skateboarder and being number one at everything I do physically to being in a wheelchair."
Then, he decided to return to school and apply to the Drug and Alcohol Studies Certificate Program.
"This program was life-changing for me," Mayes said. "This program has given me the foundation for my career with the tools to be successful."
LaMar says his plans are to become a certified substance abuse counselor, where he can mentor youth.
As for the Drug and Alcohol Program, Patino hopes to continue to expand the program with students like LaMar, noting, "The students are not just a number to us. They are each unique individuals we want to help succeed."