‘What I’m meant to do’: Cortney finds her calling in Chemical Dependency Counseling

Cortney Rowley Cortney Rowley never imagined that she would teach, let alone for 90 minutes at a time in front of a classroom. Graduating in May with a degree in Chemical Dependency Counseling, the Cooperstown native saw herself becoming primary a counselor – one-on-one, or maybe small groups.

“About 30 days after graduation, I was hired at the Addiction Center of Broome County and there I have been using every single class I’ve had here,” she said.

She found her niche teaching addiction education to clients in recovery, adopting the engaging lecture style of her SUNY Broome professors. She still uses her textbooks, too, as well as some of the exercises she learned in her own classes.

Now pursuing her professional calling, she understands why SUNY Broome’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program covers so many different aspects of practice, from ice-breakers and group counseling methods, to keeping clients engaged and self-care: She uses them all.

Prior to enrolling at SUNY Broome, Rowley spent eight years in the Army – and considers the 8 a.m. classes dreaded by so many fellow Hornets to be sleeping in.

“This was a huge career change for me. I was a rotary wing aircraft mechanic in the Army,” she said. “I went from working with helicopters to working with people.”

Like many who seek careers in addiction counseling, she has a personal connection to the issue and a deep desire to make a difference. While she moved to the Binghamton area to be closer to family, SUNY Broome proved more than just a convenient option; it offered a highly-rated program in the field, with professors and instructors who have significant experience outside the classroom.

“The hire rate out of this program was phenomenal. It has a way of getting people placed where they need to be,” she said.

During her time at SUNY Broome, she interned with ABLE, the Broome County Re-Entry Program that aids the paroled population, an experience she describes as “phenomenal.”

As an addictions counselor, Rowley not only inspires healthy behavior in her charges. She must model a healthy lifestyle herself – something she considers a benefit. By helping others heal, she also keeps herself whole.

“If I’m not healthy, how am I going to teach anyone how to be healthy? I can use these skills I’m teaching every single day,” she said. “At the end of the day, I believe it’s okay if your job is good for you, and this is good for me. I know this is what I’m meant to do.”