Cheryl Reid served as the Banner Carrier for the Spring 2014 Convocation ceremony held last May. Cheryl, a 4.0 GPA student, was chosen because of her commitment to education and her outstanding example of what integrity and hard work can accomplish in academics.
Entering the College of Liberal Studies after more than 30 years of work in substance abuse treatment and prevention, Cheryl knew that an advanced degree would help her make a positive impact on the field. Thanks to her program at CLS, she was able to achieve this goal while working full time as the Director of the Office of Prevention at Crossroads Turning Points and remaining active on numerous coalitions and committees.
What life or college experiences led you to CLS?
I have worked in the field of substance abuse treatment and prevention for more than 30 years. I started my master’s degree two years ago because the timing was finally right! I, along with my husband Larry, had successfully raised our two children and now had the resources to dedicate to returning to college. In reviewing the CLS courses offered, I believed the Master of Science in Prevention Science would exactly match my needs. It has proved to be everything I was looking for in furthering my education.
I strongly believe that ongoing education is vital to sustaining professionalism and personal growth. I hold numerous certificates for substance abuse prevention, intervention and treatment trainings, conferences, and courses, including the Colorado Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist Training (SAPST). I attend webinar training, search online resources, receive regular updates from several national and state substance abuse prevention and treatment sources, and am an avid reader.
Did any particular person or incident inspire you to get your degree?
My family, specifically my husband Larry, inspires me. I was raised in a military household and taught to always strive to do my best, have integrity, and work hard. My family has witnessed my goals, efforts, successes, and frustrations throughout years working to make a difference in people’s lives through programs and projects addressing drug and alcohol abuse.
This new MPS degree program is laying the scientific foundation for the future of prevention, establishing higher standards for prevention specialists, and raising the level of professionalism in the prevention field.
Another strong inspiration has been my fellow MPS online classmate, Mary Ann Kluga. She and I became friends in our first semester after being paired up to complete an assigned peer review of each other’s papers. As we shared feedback, exchanged emails, and chatted regularly, we supported and inspired each other through the challenges and celebrations of completing our degrees with straight A’s! Mary Ann even travelled to Houston and joined our family to watch my son accomplish his first IRONMAN competition. Both of my children, Shawn and Nicole, plan to compete in the 2014 IRONMAN in Boulder.
How did you hear about the OU College of Liberal Studies?
Professor Joe Wiese was working the University of Oklahoma booth at a National Prevention Network (NPN) conference. He explained the distance learning programs and presented me with an MPS brochure, which I contemplated for more than a year before enrolling. Representatives from the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC/RC) helped our Colorado Providers Association (COPA) efforts to create the Colorado Prevention Specialist certification process and promoted the OU MPS program. When I met Joe Wiese again at the next NPN he convinced me that this would be the right time, and it has been one of the best decisions in my life!
What challenges did you face while working on your degree?
The primary challenges were internal doubts and time constraints. It had been 30 years since I received my undergraduate degree at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) and I thought I would be a bit rusty returning to the college scene. I balanced those thoughts with the fact that I have worked in the field and engaged in many learning opportunities during this time.
Another challenge was time constraints. I work full time as the Director of the Office of Prevention at Crossroads Turning Points, am active on numerous coalitions, committees and advisory boards, and understood that pursuing an advanced degree at this point in my life would change some of my priorities. I decided that the temporary sacrifice would be well worth it in the long run, as my ultimate goal is to make a positive difference in the field of substance abuse prevention. This new MPS degree program is laying the scientific foundation for the future of prevention, establishing higher standards for prevention specialists, and raising the level of professionalism in the prevention field.
What motivated you to push through those challenges?
I had a lot of loving support from my family, friends, and coworkers, as well as a very strong desire to make a positive difference. I find my work with youth, families, and professionals very fulfilling. I enjoy working with our culturally diverse partners to positively impact the risk and protective factors for those we serve.
Over the years, the personal and professional rewards of seeing individual lives, families, and communities change have prompted my continued efforts in this field. I have observed how substance abuse problems, and the various related issues, have continued to rise and this has cemented my commitment to stay in the field and advance my education. I hope to make an even bigger impact on the problems facing our youth and families today.
How will having this degree impact your life?
I am very interested in using my MPS to serve my current employer, as well as the coalitions and communities I serve. Eventually I would like to use my skills and education to teach and train prevention, intervention and treatment courses. My long-term goals are: to raise the level of professionalism of the field in Colorado; prevent alcohol and drug’s devastating effects on individuals, families, and communities; to continue my education and advance my career; and to promote OU’s MPS program!
While you were a CLS student, what did you learn about yourself?
I have learned so much from the professors and students I have encountered through OU’s interactive online learning process. I have learned to truly value my free time and how to better prioritize my efforts towards achieving work, school, and personal goals.
I respect CLS for creating this excellent MPS degree program, and for staffing it with so many quality subject matter experts. Because of this program I believe all of us will be much better equipped to implement the science of prevention in the communities we serve. I am very glad to have discovered that it is never too late to learn, grow, embrace new technologies, and achieve challenging goals.
Cheryl Reid is the Director of the Office of Prevention for Crossroads’ Turning Points, Inc. (CTP), the largest substance abuse treatment provider for Southern Colorado, and currently co-chairs the One Community Pueblo Coalition. She also actively serves on local advisory boards representing 15 southern Colorado counties, the statewide Colorado Prevention Connection coalition, the Colorado Child Passenger Safety state advisory board, the Colorado Providers Association (COPA) and the Colorado Prevention Certification board.
Update: The College of Liberal Studies was renamed the College of Professional and Continuing Studies in 2017.