BSU Senior On The Path of Recovery Looks to Help Others Overcome Addiction

Zach Gordon in his Mission Restart office in Grand Rapids.

Zach Gordon in his Mission Restart office in Grand Rapids.

Zach Gordon, a senior in Bemidji State University’s social work program, was inspired to pursue the university’s licensed alcohol and drug counseling (LADC) certification, after battling with his own addictions. Now nearly two years sober, Gordon is helping others in recovery.

“I’m in recovery myself, so I have years of experience in dealing with addiction and trying to overcome it,” Gordon said. “I made the decision that if I’m going to stay in recovery, the best thing I can do for myself is give back and help others trying to find recovery.”

From Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the flexibility of online classes made schooling convenient for Gordon by allowing him to work around his already busy life with four children. He also appreciates how the courses bring together students from different places and backgrounds.

“It’s cool to work with other students who are coming to the program from a different background than me. It’s very interesting to see how everyone’s different life experiences brings different perspectives to the program,” Gordon said.

Amanda Longie, assistant professor of social work, and Dr. Rebecca Hoffman, associate professor of social work, have also been influential in Gordon’s success within the program, he said. They go above and beyond teaching by creating a strong support system for students.

“It’s a good program to go through because of the support you receive from the professors. Amanda has been extremely supportive and helpful. Dr. Hoffman convinced me to pair the social work program with the LADC certificate to make myself more marketable to future employers,” Gordon said.

Gordon currently works for a nonprofit called Mission Restart, a recovery center in Grand Rapids, and at First Call for Help, a crisis intervention center. He feels his education and experiences in the addiction certification and social work programs have already been helping him in his career.

“I work with many people who are in the midst of their addiction so the certificate program has given me opportunities to flex my muscles in more advanced ways,” he said. “It has also helped me network. Through my coursework in Amanda’s classes, I found a mentor in someone that spoke to our class.”

Gordon hopes to one day start his own nonprofit intensive outpatient program that would offer sober and supportive housing to the Minnesota’s Iron Range communities.

“There’s a huge shortage of people going into this line of work, and the problem isn’t getting any smaller. It’s only growing,” Gordon said. “Bemidji State offers a good program led by great people who offer a lot of support and care to their students. The faculty really understand the problem and bring a lot of experience to it.”