We’re honored to feature Shauntelle Hammonds — who is also a member of ARHE’s board — in our Student Spotlight series. Shauntelle tells us about her experiences in a collegiate recovery program, and explains how a CRP has supported her and her recovery.

Tell us about why you chose a CRP? 

Shauntelle: I started volunteering at Rams in Recovery with AmeriCorps’s Richmond Healthy Future project. I was continuously involved with college students and the culture of collegiate recovery. I attended all the events that the students attended, including ARHE events and the national conference in Houston. I was immersed in college recovery before I became a student. My peers in recovery and Tom Bannard (program coordinator for Rams in Recovery) encouraged me to re enroll into a local community college which I flunked out of in active addiction.

Which program/college did you decide upon, and what key factors in making your decision?

Shauntelle: I attend Virginia Commonwealth University and a proud member of rams in recovery. I chose this program because I already had a core group of individuals in our CRP that supported me. I already had community and family at VCU. Tom Bannard and a few students there have helped me through some of my toughest times in recovery. I also researched other communities and Rams in Recovery is one of the more diverse communities. That was also very important to me.

As a transwoman of color I’m already the only person in the room majority of the time. I wanted to attend a college where the population and the CRP was diverse.

In what ways has studying within a CRP affected your studies?

Shauntelle: I have so many people who are willing to help me with papers, studying for tests and just offering support anyway they can.

Overall, how has the CRP supported your recovery? And what are the main challenges you’ve faced?

Shauntelle: The CRP has introduced me into alternative recovery support. Before getting involved with my CRP I only knew about traditional 12 step groups. I was able to expand my recovery program and embrace different pathways to recovery.

The challenges that I face within collegiate recovery as a whole is the lack of inclusion and spaces that are supportive of marginalized individuals. I can’t say the challenges came from within my CRP, they are a representation of the structure that recovery spaces have been built upon. Collegiate recovery as a whole is filled with a lot of privilege, racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. It’s extremely tough being the only transwoman in collegiate recovery that I know of and the only black Trans person in any recovery space I have ever been in.

What is your perspective on CRPs in general in terms of how they impact the trajectory of one’s life and recovery?

Shauntelle: Having recovery support on a college campus where being sober is not the norm, gives students a safe place so they don’t have to choose between recovery and college. Programs like this also offer a place for individuals to build relationships with other individuals in recovery. In my CRP we believe that you can still have fun in recovery and we push that in all aspects of our program. We show young people in recovery that life isn’t over and they can still have a fun productive life in recovery.

What are your top five tips for a prospective student in recovery who is considering CRP programs? 

Shauntelle:

  • You belong here
  • You deserve recovery
  • Continue to show up no matter what.
  • You belong here
  • You are valid