60 for 60: Durham Tech helps TROSA residents achieve academic goals as they ‘reclaim their futures’

trosa logoSince 2003, Durham Tech has partnered with TROSA, a Durham-based nonprofit that empowers individuals with substance use disorders in the Triangle. The partnership provides Adult Basic Education classes to help TROSA residents further build their lives.

More than 100 TROSA participants have earned their GED through Durham Tech courses and many others have gone on to complete college degrees through the partnership.

“Community and connection are vitally important to TROSA and we are so fortunate to have a long-standing community partnership with Durham Tech,” said Keith Artin, President and CEO of TROSA. “For more than 25 years, TROSA has provided individuals with the time, tools, and resources to rebuild their lives and reclaim their futures.”

TROSA has served the Triangle since it was founded in 1994.

Artin said TROSA residents with educational and professional credentials have a greater opportunity for success in gaining and maintaining stable employment, which is a predictor of sustained sobriety.

“Durham Tech provides opportunities for TROSA residents to further put into practice new life skills they are learning and to achieve academic and professional goals as part of their long-term recovery plan,” he said. “The impacts of obtaining a GED or professional credential have been life-changing.”

Durham Tech instructors, like Mariann Smith, teach on TROSA’s campus Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Smith has been teaching residents for six years.

“For any teacher, it is very rewarding to be a part of the education journey of students and to help them enjoy the process. I feel especially honored to be even a small part of an area that is so vital to the TROSA residents to help them to stay sober and have good lives,” Smith said. “There are some students that come to class not expecting to make any progress toward completing high school, but then when they start learning and pass their first GED subject test, they gain more confidence in their ability and become very motivated.”

Smith said Durham Tech’s commencement ceremonies are especially exciting for TROSA residents.

“It is an event they previously missed being able to be a part of, and they absolutely love that they can have their family members attend to watch them graduate,” she said. “The impact that Durham Tech has made on TROSA residents is tremendous. Students in the program are at various stages of their education journey. Some work hard to improve their reading and math literacy, which in turn helps them to function better in society and improves their quality of life.”

person smiling at camera
Demitrius Flint

Some TROSA residents choose to go beyond their high school diploma, like Demitrius Flint, who just earned a certificate in Information Technology Foundations at Durham Tech.

Flint was using substances for several years as a way to deal with challenges in his life. One day he decided it wasn’t the life he wanted to lead anymore, and applied to TROSA’s residential treatment program.

“I have learned a lot about myself at TROSA. I am compassionate and have an analytical mind. I have found things that I’m really good at…even great at. As a result, I started to make long-term goals for myself. I was always a short-term person in terms of goals, but TROSA and Durham Tech are helping me achieve success,” he said. “The classes I have taken at Durham Tech will help my career goals and stability, which will help strengthen my recovery. I wanted to take classes at Durham Tech to expand my knowledge within the information technology field.”

Flint was also a recipient of the Richard M. Sloan Memorial Scholarship from the Durham Tech Foundation.

“I feel like I wasted so much of my life in addiction, but now I’m choosing to make my mark in life. TROSA has impacted me in ways that I cannot fully describe,” he said. “I feel empowered to create a new direction in my life, and use the tools learned at TROSA to continue reaching my goals and furthering my education. I'm confident now, and I can take the next steps to broaden my career while helping others in the process.”

TROSA is an innovative, multi-year residential program that empowers people with substance use disorders to be productive, recovering individuals by providing comprehensive treatment, experiential vocational training, education, and continuing care. TROSA’s evidenced-based program provides a safe community and services at no cost to their residents, allowing individuals to focus on their long-term recovery from substance use disorder. 
Contact Marcy Gardner, Content and Social Media Coordinator, at gardnerm@durhamtech.edu