This student loves the “we’re all in this together” mentality at ECU

k dewald

Kelly Dewald is a graduate student currently pursuing her master’s degree in substance abuse and clinical counseling at East Carolina University.  She describes why she chose this field and what it’s like to be a pirate at ECU!

What made you choose substance abuse and clinical counseling as your career?

I have always been interested in the ways that people can experience similar events yet use different coping strategies (including maladaptive ones) to deal with those events. I find that helping people deal with roots of their issues will lead to greater success in their desired abstinence. I also had opportunity to gain experience in a research setting with alcohol use and wanted to continue my education in the same field at the graduate level. I love gaining the knowledge and experience to one day help others. I see this as a way of giving back and helping people find ways to be happy and healthy throughout their lives.

Tell me more about being a rehabilitation counseling/substance abuse counseling student at East Carolina University.

You will definitely stay busy and active while being in the program. I feel that this program not only gives you the tools of becoming a counselor but also I have learned a lot about myself and have grown as a person from the experiences and classes I have taken. I have really felt supported by my cohort as well as the faculty in my program, which I think really helped with my success here. There is definitely a “we are all in this together mentality” here which I found beneficial. The mix of experiential as well as regular classes really gives you a taste of the field.

What would you tell a prospective student about ECU?

Do not get too stressed out about the application process!  Just apply, be yourself and it will all work out. This is a wonderful program but just make sure this is the right fit for you.

Kelly received her BS in Psychology from Florida State University where she also gained three years of research experience working in an alcohol studies lab within the Department of Psychology. Her goals are to work with dual-diagnosis clients as well as the offender and involuntary commitment populations with hopes of working both in the clinical and research settings.

For more information about the MS in Substance Abuse and Clinical Counseling degree, contact Dr. Shari Sias at