Tell us about your Signature Course.
I am very careful to refer to Young People and Drugs as an experiential course. Students are given the imperative to find ways to raise awareness and lower stigma related to substance use disorders and recovery. Students are challenged to think critically about this complex topic that powerfully impacts lives and too often results in death. Class discussions, speakers, panels, and exercises help students wrestle with the many components of addiction: biological, psychological, social, spiritual, and legal/policy aspects. Students attend 12-step meetings to witness recovery first-hand and they design interventions for on-campus impact on the drug/alcohol culture. They created the Drug and Alcohol Public Awareness sponsored student group and they volunteer with the UT Center for Students in Recovery and University High School, Austin’s first sober high school adjacent to campus. Students learn about addiction as a brain disease, evidence-based interventions, mentorship, and the “Drug War.”
What is your favorite part about teaching a Signature Course?
I love that this course prompts “wide-eyes” and “lightbulbs” in terms of how students think about addiction and recovery as a social problem, a personal issue, and a national epidemic. I love that students report that they are different individuals at the end of the semester. They refer to the course as “life-changing.”
What is your best piece of advice for first-year students?
Step out of your comfort zones. College is not about proving what you know; it is about embracing what you don’t know and courageously stepping into the unknown looking for innovative answers.