Judy McSilvers: From Drug Court to Higher Education

June 28, 2019

Judy McSilvers has come a long way since hitting her bottom sitting in jail on a possession charge in Lane County jail.  She describes her entire existence for years consisted of self-inflicted misery. She couldn’t go more than four hours without using, and was addicted to alcohol and methamphetamine.  Today, Judy has been in recovery for over six years and is enrolled at the University of Oregon.  

Before entering recovery, Judy could never hold down a job or place to live, and only associated with those who used like she did. She avoided answering phone calls, lost all self respect and lost custody of her son, Isaac.  She was barely surviving, when she was arrested for possession of methamphetamine. Not only was she humiliated, but she was finally ready to accept she needed help. However, she didn’t know what to do or where to turn.  

While sitting in jail, Judy was offered to participate in the Lane County Drug Court Program, and she reluctantly agreed.  She attending group therapy three times a week, followed the rules of drug court, and even got accepted into an Oxford House after a month. She became very involved in a 12-step program, and became the treasurer for her home group meeting. She found a job, got her driver’s license reinstated, and was accepted into her own apartment. As part of the 12-step program, she began making financial amends to institutions from her past that she had been avoiding for years, and also paid on her student loans until they were taken out of default. 

Judy then turned her eyes to school.  She reapplied to Lane Community College, having attended there before, and upon her graduation of the drug court program, she was welcomed back to school on a probationary status. She excelled and finished her Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer Degree and Associate of General Studies Degree in March of 2018. Currently, she is enrolled in her first term at the University of Oregon in the Family and Human Services Program through the College of Education. She also works as a server four days a week and interns six hours a week on top of being a single mom to Isaac, who is now 17 years old. 

Judy remains very active in the recovery community, and she is always willing to share her story wherever it’s needed. She celebrated six years in recovery on April 22 of this year, and she will continue to be proof that recovery works in everything she does.

“I believe that my purpose is to share my story with others, in and out of recovery, in everything I do. I am willing to put myself out there, and show that addiction is a disease that needs constant maintenance to remain in remission,” Judy says. 

Judy’s educational goal is to earn her bachelor’s degree in family and human services, and then go on to earn her Master of Social Work and become a licensed clinical social worker. She wants a career where she can be the voice for those who are not heard, specifically those who are struggling with addiction and/or mental health barriers. Ultimately, she would like to start a non-profit with the goal is to connect people to necessary services. 

Our blog features the profiles of other recipients of the scholarship award, as well as information about how to apply.