Jimmy Hatzell, the chief technology officer at Life of Purpose Treatment, said he felt like there was an asterisk next to his name as an undergraduate at Penn State. When he overheard his classmates talking about partying over the weekend or drinking at tailgates, he said he didn’t feel like he belonged in class.

It wasn’t until he found a recovery community on campus that he finally felt like he belonged again.

Hatzell and Robert Ashford, a master’s of social work candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, both found recovery through collegiate recovery programs at their respective universities. Now the pair works to spread collegiate recovery programs through organizations and research.

Their mission, they said, revolves around the idea that students “need support where you exist.”

Hatzell said an important part of his recovery was realizing that recovery can be “cool.” He met cool people within his recovery community at Penn State and learned that they could have their own college experience without the use of alcohol or drugs.

Hatzell and Ashford said one of the most important aspects of collegiate recovery is creating a community within the school and fostering relationships to create the college experience.

“Students in recovery are everywhere,” Ashford. “When you walk around campus every day, you walk into someone who is in recovery. The stats on that don’t lie. Jimmy and I are living proof that it works.”