Could we get some brief biographical info from you? Hometown, previous experience, education, etc.?
Originally, I was born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, however, shortly after we moved to Williamsport, PA, which is where I would say my childhood took place. I have lived in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and several places around North Carolina, everywhere from the Outer Banks to Raleigh.
I grew up in a very medically inclined family. Both of my parents were Physician’s Assistants. As a kid, I watched Discovery Health for hours on end and some of my favorite toys included a medical cart with all the accessories. Growing up, I fell in love with animals, and always imagined being a veterinarian. I ended up going to North Carolina State University for the undecided track, but was really shooting for vet school.
In my first year, I spent a day shadowing a large animal vet. I ended up realizing that though I thoroughly enjoyed the job, it didn’t seem right for a long-term career. In one of my classes, we had a project in which we had to interview someone in a career that interested us. Aware that being a Veterinarian was now out, I decided to interview a psychologist. Often in my life, I found myself offering my ear to friends and was always the one people called when in crisis, so I thought, why not give it a shot? One conversation and I was sold. I transitioned to a psychology degree and started focusing on working with at-risk youth.
Following graduation, I (like a lot of people) found myself having a difficult time. I felt like I lost my path. I did, however, know that I always felt safe in school, so with the encouragement of my mother, I started applying to any psychology-related programs in the area. I applied to Eastern Carolina University’s Marriage and Family Therapy program, where I was accepted. During my time in graduate school, one of the faculty picked up on my interest in at-risk youth and addiction and connected me with the Walter B. Jones Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center. I completely fell in love with the work there and found that finally, I was finding my path again.
I ended up doing my internship at Walter B. Jones while completing my program and thesis. While completing my LCASA I continued to work at Walter B. Jones, but really felt called to return to Raleigh. I initially took a position at Triangle Springs as a therapist before finding a home at Green Hill Recovery.
What made you want to work in a) the clinical field generally and b) substance abuse specifically?
I decided to get into clinical work after deciding taking care of animals all day was not what I wanted to do professionally. I get enough of taking care of animals at home! I started my graduate program with no specific focus but always had an underlying drive to work with at-risk adolescents. Interestingly enough, I began with a fascination in teen pregnancy and worked my way into addiction.
I tell everyone, “I wish I had a cool story but I really don’t.” I did have enough self-awareness to know I would need some guidance, and I created a great relationship with one of the faculty, who listened to my interests and continued to encourage me to work with Walter B. Jones.
From there, I not only loved what I was doing and what I was learning, but I truly valued the relationship between my internship supervisor and what he taught me. Mr. Tart was one role model that I will hold close to my heart forever. Throughout my time at Walter B. Jones, I found that it was less about what I was teaching the patients than what they were teaching me.
What do you believe makes Green Hill stand out in its field, and why?
Green Hill is truly, like I mentioned earlier, home. I have never worked with an entire team that cares so deeply and passionately about not only what they do, but those they work with. I think that’s what makes it so special. Treatment and therapy all begin with the relationships one builds with those they are working with.
I believe our team is so in-tune with not only what our vision is as a program, but with what our client’s vision is for their future. We have such a unique team of people ranging from academic consultants to therapists to creativity to businesspeople. Somehow, we manage to use our strengths to come together to create a safe and encouraging place for our clients to dive into their own self-efficacy.
What’s one memory you’ll always take with you from your time here in Green Hill?
Absolutely our very first Iron Chef challenge at the Transitional Living house. This was one of the first activities we wanted to do during the coronavirus pandemic, and it ended up being fun for everyone.
Somehow, I was voted as a chef (not proud to admit it, but I totally used the “I have a session” excuse to try to get out of it). It was the ‘Apocalypse version’, so our recipes for the Iron Chef challenge included things like spam, ramen noodles, pasta, beef jerky, etc.
It was rough, but our guys were so creative and there ended up being some dishes that were actually delicious.
What makes Raleigh an ideal environment for young people in recovery?
Raleigh is an amazing place that encompasses everything any young adult, especially one in recovery, could desire. I love that you can easily access both the beaches and mountains. Raleigh is host to many wonderful colleges that encourage young adults to keep shooting for the moon. Raleigh also offers so many community life options, it allows people to find their own community.
What does your ideal day look like?
Anything outside! Ideally, it would be sunny and 75. I would wake up early and head to the barn to ride my horse, Mikey. I’d give him all the sour patch kids his little (big) heart desires before heading home to get ready for the beach. A perfect day for me is a day at the beach with family, friends and a good book before having a big communal dinner and talking about all the embarrassing moments from childhood.
Can you name one female role model you have, and what that person has had such an impact?
In my personal life, I would absolutely have to say my mother. As a single mother in the medical field, she has shown me what being an independent, caring, driven woman means.
Additionally, from the time I was a child, I have always admired surfer Bethany Hamilton. I’ve admired her for her worth ethic, passion, drive, ambition and courageous demeanor. She is a person who has not let her circumstances compromise her ability to work toward her dreams. She has proved time and time again that with some effort and courage, anything is possible. One of the main reasons why I admire her is that even as one of the best, she has been vulnerable enough to share about her experiences of loss, defeat and difficulty.
Quick facts about Emily
Undergraduate school: NC State University, GO PACK!
Graduate school: East Carolina University, GO PIRATES!
Desert island movie: Cast Away
Favorite book: Hmmm, the childhood book is probably Because of Winn Dixie. My tearjerker would have to be The Art of Racing in the Rain.
Favorite podcast: Up and Vanished or Cold or Yoga Girl: Conversations from the Heart.
Favorite sports team: ECU Pirates
Favorite spot to visit in Raleigh: Umstead Park, I love to take my dog for walks there.
Dream job as a child: Probably an orthopedist for a while before wanting to be a veterinarian.