James Edwards began coursework toward a degree in rehabilitation counseling at UALR in August 2007.
Upon graduation in August 2010, he moved to New York City with his spouse. Almost immediately, Edwards found a job with Greenhope Services for Women, which seeks to rehabilitate women with substance abuse and mental health issues.
After completing the requirements for his degree, Edwards took and passed the exam to become a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, thanks to what he refers to as “great teaching’ on the part of his UALR professors.
“The degree program made me focus and work independently while also giving me the support I needed when I had questions or challenges with the curriculum,” said Edwards.
Edwards was promoted to Director of Career and Educational Services, a senior management position, in the first year of his employment.
He is responsible for an area that helps women prepare for job interviews and other vital skills. Even though Edwards is a Caucasian working in the heavily Latino and African-American borough of East Harlem, his cross-cultural courses at UALR prepared him with specific skills to bridge the gap.
“What it did was show us that it is really not so much about culture, but about being a human and how we can help one another,” he said.
The most challenging aspect of his job is the work the agency does with women whose drug and alcohol addiction is fueled by their harsh socio-economic backgrounds, so that strides in personal improvement become seemingly insurmountable.
“These women come from such poor living conditions they couldn’t even think about getting an education. They were too busy thinking about getting a roof over their head or not getting abused,” Edwards said.
“On the other hand, they are so resilient. And when they find their voice and really start to blossom, it is just amazing to know you’ve been part of that process,” he added.
“Thanks UALR for the great education that prepared me to be a leader in my career field,” he said.