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Your View: My journey from addiction to state’s top community college student

My name is Michelle Tatosian, and I am a grateful recovering addict.My story, like that of many others, is one of obstacles, victories, and defeats. At age 15, I thought I was just another typical teenager. I partied, but everyone did. I took drugs, but everyone did. What started with designer drugs and alcohol turned into household highs and more addictive drugs.Even though I clearly had a problem, my mind came up with complex, twisted ways of justifying my behavior. Before I knew it, I found myself pacing the floor, trying over and over to find something, anything, to silence the incessant cravings. It didn’t matter who I hurt or how close I came to death.My family watched me spiral into self-destruction. I broke their hearts every day, and caused countless sleepless nights, but not once did I consider them. Nothing else existed, only the pursuit of that next hit. Anyone who knew me then thought I wouldn’t live to see 25.David Zinczenko was the 2019 commencement speaker at Moravian College. (Contributed photo / The Morning Call /)Commencement speech by Moravian’s David Zinczenko: Grads, do this, not that to succeedIt wasn’t long before I found myself crashing into rock bottom. Shaking and terrified, I looked at myself in the mirror. I couldn’t deny it anymore. I am an addict.Every addict has their own rock bottom, but not every addict has a way out. I was fortunate to have that moment of clarity, as well as the resources to treat my disease.What no one can truly tell you, though, is what happens when you get clean. When you’re no longer numb to the pain, and you’re no longer blind to your actions. The guilt was suffocating, and the fear was debilitating. My stomach turned as the memories of my addiction invaded my head. I was forced to accept the fact that I had burned bridges I so desperately needed, and I had to build my own.I had no idea who I was sober, where I would go, or what I would do. All I knew was that there was a truly good woman inside of me, and that I would fight every demon with everything I had to give her a chance to thrive.Shabana Basij-Rasikh delivers the Cedar Crest College commencement address on May 11 at PPL Center in Allentown. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/COURTESY CEDAR CREST COLLEGE/)Cedar Crest commencement speech: ‘When you educate a girl, you change the world’As an addict, I know desperation. I felt it nearly every single day for four years. When I got clean, I still felt that desperation, only I was desperate for change. There were no lengths I wouldn’t go to, no obstacles I wouldn’t face, to hold on to my sobriety. I swore to myself I would become a good person, to do the right thing at every opportunity. I worked hard to do my best at everything I pursued, no matter how small or insignificant. There was nothing in this world that was going to stop me from rising above my addiction.Countless times I faced difficult situations, but my faith in myself never faltered. Slowly, my relationship with my family healed, and I became successful at work. I found myself, five years later, feeling like I could still do better. I found myself, five years later, walking into Northampton Community College. I sat in my first college class, English I, pride beaming out of every fiber of my being. I was going to create my future, despite my past.Northampton Community College is the perfect place for a person looking to develop themselves and create their future. At NCC, I was surrounded by opportunities, and I took advantage of every one I could. My hunger for education and personal growth was insatiable. From Psychology Club to Phi Theta Kappa, I showed up and I got involved. From Speech Communication to Anatomy and Physiology, I soaked up each bit of information and put every ounce of effort I had into maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Today, I am a grateful recovering addict. Today, I am a compassionate individual and college graduate who goes above and beyond to serve her community. Today, I am an All-PA Academic Team member, a New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar, recipient of NCC’s Trustee Leadership Award, recipient of NCC’s Liberal Arts Award and president of the Tau Gamma Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.Six years ago, no one, not even myself, would have thought I would be here at all. Despite my addiction, and in some ways, because of it, I have become stronger and more successful that I could have ever imagined.Michelle Tatosian, a Washington Township resident, graduated from Northampton Community College on May 23. She was named Pennsylvania’s New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar, as the top community college student in the state.
Source: Morningcall

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