How recovery is pushing me to the next level

September 27, 2019

For Daniel John Joseph, doing things independently and seeing positive results is something that he can truly appreciate in recovery.  So is the ability to set high standards and create strong goals, something he was not used to before. The 25-year-old student at Penn State University is majoring in psychology, with a minor in neuroscience.  

Daniel received an Ammon Recovery Scholarship award in August to assist him with his Fall 2019 semester.  Soon after, he shared the following with us, “ I feel extremely honored and proud.  Throughout most of my life, I have always underachieved and only desired to do the bare minimum.  After getting into recovery, I realized that I would not be successful in my life or my recovery with that kind of attitude.  Since then I have realized that I can achieve if I work hard, which has been a huge part of my recovery. The feeling of working hard and succeeding to achieve new levels in all aspects of my life is my new pursuit.  Receiving the scholarship though was especially meaning for me though because it was one of the first selective processes that I have accomplished on my own. For example, when applying to Penn State, I received a lot of help from my sister when doing the editing, wording, and content.  For the Ammon Foundation, I did all my editing by myself, it was purely a creation of my own, so to receive an award like this is especially meaningful to me because I did it all on my own. It means a lot to me and I really appreciate it.”

Daniel shared his story by providing answers to the following questions: 

Can you share your recovery story? I, like many others, began my use in high school, although the signs of addictive potential showed much earlier in my life.  My use progressed into a lifestyle and that lifestyle led me to a full-blown opiate addiction by my sophomore year of college.  It was then where I first reached for help, but that was just the beginning. I spent the next four years in and out of jails and institutions, finding only temporary success ranging from a couple of days to over a year.  My breaking point came when I was again arrested, I have been in the court system before and knew that to get out of this I had to rededicate my life to recovery. It was then that I decide to enter into a long-term residential rehab for the next nine months.  That was two years ago, today I have a life I could not have previously imagined.  I can be a son to my family, a friend to my friends, a helping hand to those in need, and a student to a university.”

How has addiction or alcoholism hindered your ability to pursue an education in the past?  “In the past I would always go for what I knew I could do, but never challenged myself.  Today I am only interested in reaching outside of my comfort zone to do something that will be challenging, something I can really be proud of.  Addiction also led me to drop out of university two previous times.” 

What is your education and career goal? “It has been a while since I have taken any math or sciences, although the last time I went to school and was sober I excelled, this leads me to believe that today when my sobriety is even stronger, that I can excel at math and science as well.  I say this because my goal is to become either a physician assistant or a doctor.  If I try my best and see that my talent isn’t math and science, I am also content with pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology, which I know I am capable of, but like I previously said, I am more interested in really challenging myself and reaching out of my comfort zone.”

Why is it important for you to pursue education while in recovery? “ It is important to me because I believe in the whole person model of recovery.  I am not interested in simply staying sober, I did that before and I lost interest in staying sober because that was all I really had.  I want to accomplish things in all aspects of my life, I want to highly achieve in every area. Education is a huge aspect of pursuing excellence in all areas of life and pushing to the next level.”

What are or have been some of your biggest hurdles in obtaining an education?  “Because of my substance use, I have a scattered academic record and an extensive list of misdemeanors.  The combination of the two has made getting into school not impossible but led to a lot of extra work. Also, last time I was in school, I was newly sober and in shock, as I had been away from school for some time, I was not able to connect with the student body or really share my experiences with anyone.  I am looking forward to going to Penn State because they took the time to hear my story and accepted me despite the baggage I come with, they are also a very good understanding of recovery as they have a huge support system for recovery there including a close-knit community of recovery housing.”

When Daniel submitted his answers, he sent the photo above.  We followed up with one of the most important questions we could ever ask, what’s the name of your dog? He responded by saying, “The puppy in the picture is Cooper!  He is the family dog and we love him greatly.”

Our blog features the profiles of other recipients of the scholarship award, as well as information about how to apply.  Applications for the Spring 2020 semester are open now and are due on November 1, 2019 for 2- and 4-year students.  Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis for trade and vocational students.