Graduation Season is Upon Us

May 31, 2019

Graduation Season is Upon Us

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

Graduation regalias, the caps and gowns we see people wearing in late May and late June as they celebrate their completion of degrees, dates back to the Middle Ages. They were intended to set students apart from fellow citizens and in places like Columbia University, they were worn daily while in residence. Nowadays, these gowns continue to be a tradition, and with the age of social media, we get to see photos of individuals happily displaying their graduation attire. The gowns don’t tell the full story of the sleepless nights, fighting through mountains of papers, the endless hours of lecture, and the efforts of both the student and their educators.  The gown, instead, symbolizes a distinct time of transition.

Ammon Recovery Scholars know about transitions. These individuals all applied and were awarded scholarships to help them financially. They are all individuals in recovery, committed to their recovery and utilizing education as a stepping stone into an intentional career.  Here are a few of them, wearing their traditional graduation regalia.

For Samera Bishop, this graduation season means completing her Associates Degree in Human Services with a G.P.A. of 3.4.  She attended Atlantic Cape Community College in New Jersey and is transferring to Rutgers Camden where she will work on her Bachelors of Social Work.  That program begins in the fall.

Samera is a person in long-term recovery. At the age of 22 years old she began suffering from a substance use disorder when she became addicted to heroin. She spent 4 years battling the disease of addiction. She says, “my recovery journey wasn’t easy – it included relapses and slips, nevertheless I never gave up and continued to seek help.”  She credits her friends and family support for helping her along the way.   She recognizes that there are many different paths to recovery and says, “I’ve actually tried them all until I found one that worked for me. This included IOP, MAT, and 12- step attendance just to name a few, as well as working on my own spirituality.”

Today Samera has over 10 years in recovery and continues to attend 12-step meetings.  She is also participating in the Peer Recovery Coaching services offered by the Ammon Foundation to their Ammon Recovery Scholars.

Victor Flores began his recovery journey on February 24, 2012.  Victor shares that “One day my sponsor suggested that maybe I should apply to Middlesex County College and see where things went.” Victor recently graduated on May 16th, 2019 from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, with his Bachelors in Social Work (BSW).

Victor was the first person in his family to graduate from high school and now he is also the first person to graduate from college. His motivation and perseverance to succeed in his life continue as he gets ready to pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Work at Rutgers University.

Victor is a proud member of the Collegiate Recovery Leadership Academy sponsored by the Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE) and S.A.F.E Projet US. He has been working on a long year collegiate recovery impact project that brought awareness of addiction and recovery at Rutgers University and in the community. His project involved the Rutgers University collegiate recovery program and The Lesniak Experience, Strength and Hope Recovery High School where he has been interning/working as a recovery mentor for the past 3 years. Victor continues to encourage and empower others to seek help for their addiction. He hopes that his success can be a testament that recovery is possible and attainable with the help of his sober support network and his community.

Kathleen Kronenberger received her Associates in Chemical Dependency Counseling from Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood, NY.  She worked full time and attended school full time.  Today, 5 years in long-term recovery, she happily celebrates with her family wearing her full Phi Theta Kappa honors regalia.  This past March 2019, only halfway through her internship, she was hired full time as a Recovery Support Specialist.  In her scholarship application, Kathleen stated, “I have finally realized that my purpose in life is to help others and let them know how wonderful a life in recovery can be.  It is my goal to pass along the invaluable gift that was handed to me.” After graduation, Kathleen applied for the Bachelors in Substance Use Disorder Counseling Program.

Ronald Easley wore his graduation cap and gown and shared the following post, “Today marks another victory. My Graduation is evidence that recovery can and does work. The Ammon Foundation provided the resources that made it possible for me to be successful and inspired me to be the best me I can be. Having someone believe in you is such a powerful tool in the journey of recovery & The Ammon Foundation fulfills that need without question!! Thanks, Ammon Foundation for believing in me!!” He graduated from Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland,  with his associate’s degree. His life in recovery began a little over 3 years ago after a long battle with addiction. He states, “I struggled with substance use disorder for over 27 years. My life was a repetitive cycle of incarceration, treatment facilities, and homelessness for the majority of my adult life. I convinced myself that my life was nothing more than the one block radius that I inhabited for 3 or 4 years.”  Today, Ronald has received his national certification as a CPRSS (Certified Peer Recovery Specialist) and graduated with a certificate in Addictions Counseling.

And just like this tradition of cap and gowns that dates back hundreds of years, so is the history of recovery. William White has researched a whole series of past events and found traces of recovery movements dating back mid-1700’s. If you read his books and articles, you’ll be able to learn about the history of our nation and the many lessons it contains in the field of recovery. White writes, “The history of recovery mutual aid societies, specialized addiction treatment and new recovery community organizations indicates a potential shift in focus from facilitating the intrapersonal recovery experience to creating supportive community environments in which such recoveries can flourish.” (2010)

It is in that spirit of community that the Ammon Recovery Scholar exists.

The Ammon Foundation is committed to giving away at least $100,000 in scholarships annually and is looking to fund education as a pathway to stable employment.  We believe that when individuals are holistically supported, the more likely they are to sustain their recovery. The Ammon Recovery Scholars Program goals include: removing financial barriers through financial scholarships; providing strategic support for recipients through offering personal, professional and academic support; and creating a supportive peer community committed to combating the stigma associated with addiction by promoting that recovery is possible.

Fall 2019 Scholarships are due June 1st and Spring 2020 applications are due on November 1st. For trade, vocational and certificate programs, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Please visit for more information or email with any questions.