Alumni Spotlight: Emily Wasel, BSW ’12


“I learned how to balance my life while I was at Carlow.”

Emily Wasel has a stepping stone on her desk: smooth, white plaster studded with glittery green glass gems. It's a constant reminder that she's doing what she's meant to do.

An outpatient facilitator at Cove Forge Behavioral Health Systems on Pittsburgh's South Side, Wasel counsels adults who are struggling with alcohol and drug addictions.

Several months ago, Wasel was thrilled by the progress of one of her patients-an 18-year-old who had worked hard to recover from an opiate addiction. Then he called to tell her he had relapsed. He was going back to jail.

Emily Wasel, '12

"I took his relapse so hard," says Wasel, "but my supervisor put it in perspective. She told me that his relapsing doesn't say anything about me as a counselor, but the fact that he wanted to call me, to let me know what was going on, says everything about my impact as his counselor."

There are so many reasons why individuals turn to addiction, she emphasizes.  Everyone has a story, and it's often tragic.

"They are working every day to stay sober," she says, "to not pick up that drink or needle or pipe, and to live what society would call a normal life. They are learning to identify their emotions. A lot of them have numbed themselves."

About three weeks ago, that same 18-year-old came in to tell Wasel he was clean and doing well. He placed the stepping stone on her desk, symbolic of his ongoing path to recovery.

"Sometimes it helps to have a little reminder," she sighs. "This work isn't easy, but I know I'm making a difference."

A 2012 Carlow graduate with a bachelor's degree in social work, Wasel received her MSW from the University of Pittsburgh in 2013. She says her Carlow degree prepared her both for graduate studies-and for immersion in her field.

"While people in my master's classes were struggling, I understood what my professors were talking about and was able to keep up," she says.

Wasel transferred to Carlow from a small, rural college in Ohio-a decision that made all the difference, she says. She craved the diversity that Carlow's campus offered.

 "I had real relationships with professors from day one, and they pointed me in the right direction," she says of Carlow.  "It was the perfect move."

And each time she runs her hand across that handcrafted stepping stone, she knows that she is also on the right path-transforming lives and helping others make the right move, too.  

Find out more about Carlow University's Undergraduate Social Work Programs.

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