By Susie Robinson
I remember the Tuesday morning writing class I had in Lloyd Hall because I attended it in my flannel pajamas with half-brushed hair. A perk that drew me to apply to LSWA (formerly known as LHSP) was having class in my dorm, but as an alumna looking back on the experience eight years later, I realize that was just one of the many benefits that the program offered me.
I joined LSWA to become part of a community that valued connection and creativity. Through LSWA, I was able to sing in a band that I created with other LSWA members through a student-led club. I can still remember the rendition of Damien Rice’s “Volcano” we performed for the community. LSWA influenced my decision to participate in FestiFools and helped me become a better leader. Standing out and being bold were integral parts of the friendships and art that I created through LSWA; I carried those parts with me on campus as a student and member of a sorority when it sometimes felt like conforming was the only way to be included.
In addition to being a part of LSWA, I majored in psychology, joined an a cappella club, and worked in Dr. Sara McClelland’s research lab. The people I met and knowledge I gained from these programs and communities shaped my undergraduate experience and led me to decide to do an Americorps program after graduating.
I moved to New York City, lived communally with fellow Americorps members, and worked at a nonprofit organization fighting to improve homelessness in NYC. I continued doing this line of work before deciding to get my MSW. I now work at The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, an addiction treatment and advocacy organization that has residential and outpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs throughout the nation. The issues of addiction and mental illness are dear to my heart and impact me on more than just a professional level. This work allows me to help others, improve myself, and challenge the stigma surrounding addiction and mental illness.
My LSWA peers and professors were advocates and activists for all sorts of important social issues. The issues were reflected in the art they made be it drawings, songs, dances, and poems. Human experiences like love and loss were also captured. At that time, I was drawn to the honesty in what I was hearing and seeing and in the conversations I was having in the hallways and classrooms of LSWA. I found it to be inspiring and validating. My work today centers around helping my patients open up and express themselves in a similar fashion. What often follows is a healing process, and I'm grateful to play a role in it with them.
To find balance, I practice yoga, meditate, and spend time in nature. I just got engaged to my UMich college sweetheart and am a proud mommy of an adorable Labradoodle.
All photos courtesy of Susie Robinson.