Sometimes a ray of hope comes to us during the darkest of nights, when all seems irreparably broken.
Two years ago, Anthony Hill had come to that place of shattering. In some senses, it was sudden: a 911 call, a 48-day stay in a psychiatric center and a chemical dependency treatment program. But those cracks were laid long before, during years as a functional alcoholic.
It didn’t show on the outside during his 38 years in the automotive field, where he rose from technician to manager to shop owner. He lived in North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland for a time. But the costs added up, resulting in a divorce and family estrangement. When his father and stepfather passed away in 2015, the pieces fell to the floor and he spent the following year in “a blackout drunken fog,” he explained.
At UHS’ New Horizons program, he finally began to accept the treatment he needed. He also deeply considered those who were putting him on a healthy course, and decided he wanted that future, too.
“I got a taste of wanting to possibly be a counselor,” he said. “It took about six months, but I was able to start classes this spring.”
Out of school for 35 years, Anthony is now in his second semester at SUNY Broome, as a Chemical Dependency Counseling major. The Owego native is also looking forward to the future: transferring to Binghamton University and someday earning his Master’s degree in social work, furthering his aim of helping those who wander in the darkness of addiction.
College is a new experience; after graduating high school, Anthony had gone into the military and then directly into the work world. But he greets that new experience with enthusiasm, excitement and a drive to succeed.
“I love to learn new things. I was taking a general psychology course with Professor Bill Altman, and something clicked where I thought, ‘This is very enjoyable.’ I love learning this material,” he said. “It fit the way I was feeling, the second chapter in my life.”
He is sharing that love of learning with his fellow students as a peer tutor in psychology. He also works in the college’s Liberal Arts office, and volunteers his time as events coordinator for the SWAG Club (short for Social Wellness Advocacy Group). One of his more interesting evenings: coordinating the appearances of divas at the SUNY Broome Drag Show, where he also served as event photographer.
SWAG is also planning a spring meet-and-greet with representatives from local rehab facilities, which will help students potentially make the connections they need for internships and jobs.
This new chapter in Anthony Hill’s life is far different from his old story – and rife with possibilities.
“Talking with other people in the field, I have the chance now to take the transfer and go on to get my masters. The opportunity is here for me now,” he said. “Sometimes I wish I would have done it years ago, but it wasn’t my calling then. Now it is.”