This semester really opened my eyes. It’s been six years since I’ve been in recovery and I found my love for Journalism. So, when I saw that Temple was offering this class, during my final semester, I just had to take it. However, I never thought it would impact me the way it did.

The guest speakers were very humbling. Each and every person that came in to speak to our class, I have the utmost respect for. It’s not easy to share one’s story, once you have been through an addiction. I remember, I never wanted to talk about it. I was ashamed and embarrassed, until my counselor helped me to realize that I had nothing to be ashamed about. Things happen to people in life in many different ways, and addiction just happens to be one of them. So, for these astounding people to come into a classroom full of journalism students, they don’t even know, to tell their story is just plain brave.

One story in particular hit quite close to home for me, and that was the story of Laurie and Keegan Wicks. I cried the day I heard these two tell their story, because it reminded me so much of myself and my mother. Laurie stated in class, “I wasn’t going to lose my son. It just wasn’t going to happen.” I cried when she made that statement because I had heard my mother say that to me so many times. I know I disappointed her and I put my family through a lot of heartache. But, I always knew my mom would be there for me, because she is my mom. She is my best friend, and my rock and I don’t know what would have happened to me in my life if I didn’t have her.

Another guest speaker, Maia Szalavitz, really showed me what life could be like after addiction. This class helped me because it helped me forgive myself. For almost six years I have been in recovery and everyone in my life has forgiven me, except for myself. I’m my harshest critic and I just couldn’t move on. However, after hearing Szalavitz’s story, what she went through, and how she overcame it, is simply inspiring. She helped me to realize that I’m never going to move forward in my life and get to where I want to be, without forgiving myself and moving on.

I will admit, at times, this class was hard. It brought up a lot of painful memories and forced me to face my demons. Going to class every week and hearing how painful this epidemic has been and how many people it has impacted is just plain sad. But, these stories are also stories of redemption. Yes, unfortunately many stories don’t end happily. But, when someone overcomes this disease known as addiction, it is something to be praised. So, I just want to say thank you to each and every guest speaker, my classmates, and my teacher, for an amazing classroom experience.