Change is Good: Willis-Martin Leaves Career to Work in Alcohol & Drug Counseling



After 20 years as a financial adviser and insurance agent, Amanda Willis-Martin decided it was time for a change and enrolled in Bemidji State University’s addiction certificate program.

Willis-Martin first earned an undergraduate degree 20 years ago at the University of Minnesota, Morris. However, during that time she also took some classes at Bemidji State to fulfill her degree requirements and fell in love with the university. It was her first choice when she decided to go back to school.

“When I first received my bachelor’s degree years ago, BSU was instrumental in helping me. They partnered with my university and let me take classes at Bemidji State. It’s a great school and my experience on campus was one of the primary reasons I looked at attending Bemidji State now,” Willis-Martin said.

When Willis-Martin was first considering changing her career she was looking into master’s programs to become a therapist. After consulting friend Rebecca Hoffman, chair of BSU’s social work department, she decided to explore Bemidji State’s fully-online addictions certificate.

“I never thought I would be getting a licensed alcohol and drug counselor certification. It wasn’t on my radar until Dr. Hoffman talked to me about it,” Willis-Martin said. “Now that I have worked through the program, I think everyone should take some of the coursework. Our communities would be better served if we all had more knowledge on how substance abuse works.”

As a nontraditional student, Willis-Martin said she appreciates how this program is preparing her for a career so different from her past experience.

“The addictions program has prepared me not only by giving me the physical resources I need, but a support system,” she said. “The professors provided the encouragement to try something new and the education to do it. The psychology and social work departments partner well and give students a strong overview of what working in this field truly looks like.”

Willis-Martin is currently an intern at Sanford Behavioral Health in Bemidji. She hopes to continue her education and eventually earn her masters as a marriage and family therapist. The addictions certificate will help her reach that goal by support her as she works with individuals and families who face substance abuse.

“Substance abuse is an epidemic. This program helps not only those dealing with substance abuse, but also those who are impacted by it – which is everyone,” Willis-Martin said.

About the Addictions Certificate

In Bemidji State’s fully online addictions certificate program students can complete the course work required to become a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor as specified by Minnesota statute. Students who complete the addictions certificate plan will be prepared to work in the field of substance and behavioral addictions. Visit the addictions certificate website for more information.