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Overcoming Obstacles Leads to M.A. in Counseling for PAU June Grad

Monday, May 20, 2019

Each PAU student finds their way through our doors in different ways. Dennis Haysley’s path was remarkably unique. After spending 20 years without a home and addicted to drugs, Haysley sought help to get off the streets, graduate from college, survive a quadruple heart bypass, and eventually, at the age of 70, reach his goal of earning an M.A. in counseling. He is now employed in a recovery program where he will use his experience and PAU degree to help others.
Haysley’s life began to turn around June 10, 2005 when he self-admitted to the Homeless Veterans Rehabilitation Program (HVRP) in Palo Alto, a six-month inpatient program at the VA Hospital. “In my early days in HVRP, I heard other veterans proclaim that they just wanted their life back, and I remember thinking, not me, I want a new life. I invested myself into the HVRP motto, ’I create what happens to me.’ Haysley was fortunate to receive excellent career counseling, which led to a conversation with one of the program’s addiction therapists that shaped his career goal: to become a state certified alcohol and drug counselor.
His new plan led Haysley to a local community college where he passed the California certification exam and earned an associate's degree in alcohol and drug studies, and then matriculated at Palo Alto University.
Helping Others Achieve a Life in Which they can Dream Again
Haysley looks forward with excitement and pride to Saturday, June 22, 2019 when he will receive his degree as a professional clinical counselor. But he is not stopping there. “For the last three years I assumed my appetite for career advancement would be satisfied with a master addiction counselor. But as I think ahead to the commencement ceremony, I’ve been thinking about the possibility of other opportunities where I can help people recover from their addictions and get on a path to a healthy life. Perhaps a life in which they can dream again.”
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