Kennesaw State’s Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery hosts 11 scholarship winners

CNN Vice President and Senior Editorial Director Richard Griffiths

CNN’s Richard Griffiths keynotes “Celebration of Recovery” at Villa Christina…

Georgia (Sep 18, 2014)CNN’s Richard Griffiths keynotes “Celebration of Recovery” at Villa Christina   

KENNESAW, Ga.  (Sept. 17, 2014) — Kennesaw State University’s Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery (CYAAR) recognized 11 scholarship winners during a “Celebration of Recovery” scholarship breakfast on Wednesday, Sept. 17, at Hyatt Atlanta Perimeter at Villa Christina. Richard Griffiths, vice president and senior editorial director for CNN, delivered the keynote address.

CYAAR’s chief fundraising event benefits Kennesaw State’s Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC), which provides a supportive peer community within the campus culture that reinforces a student’s commitment to recovery. By providing social and academic support, students in recovery can be part of the mainstream college experience while putting their recovery and commitment to service first.

“The CRC provides a community of support, a setting where – with professional leadership – the students help support one another, a place where the traditional college life experience is redefined,” Griffiths said. “It’s a place where the students are expected to set goals for themselves.”

Among the scholarship winners are an aspiring veterinarian, bakery owner, rock musician and several counselors. Others include a future accountant, statistician, art gallery owner and behavioral neuroscientist. All are from the metro Atlanta area, but each has a different story to tell.

Winner of the Jeremy Leo Letalien Scholarship

Accounting major: “I’ve been part of the CRC for three years and serve as president of the group,” he said. “I enjoy being of service, traveling and learning about other cultures. I plan to pursue an MBA.”

Winners of the William and Betsy Duffey Scholarship

Applied Statistics graduate student: “I work and go to school, but in my free time I like playing drums and exploring new restaurants,” he said. “I have been sober since 2008 and expect to graduate in May.”

Psychology major: “I plan on graduating next summer and pursuing a Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience,” he said. Sober since 2012, he works but maintains a 4.0 GPA and serves as treasurer of the CRC.

Information Systems Securities and Assurances major: “My goal is to graduate in the fall of 2018. I’m currently employed and enjoy building LED light systems for reef aquariums,” he said. A loyal member of 12-step fellowship, on weekends he likes playing pool with his friends.

Biology major: “I’m a big animal lover and want to become a veterinarian,” she said. A grateful member of the CRC, she has a 3.45 GPA and has been sober from heroin since July of 2010.

Winners of the Scott Edward Duffey Scholarship

Communications major: A student assistant for the CYAAR, she is currently part of the leadership of the CRC. “I will graduate in December of next year and then I want to and pursue a communications career.”

Social Work graduate student: He received his B.A. in psychology in May from KSU and was in graduate school when he passed away. An active advocate for the International Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Foundation, he had a passion for serving others. “He always considered himself to be blessed with the opportunity to help others, allowing them to recover and reclaim their lives,” said a close friend.

Winners of the Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery Board Scholarship

Psychology major with a minor in statistics: “I play drums in a local band and I plan to graduate next spring,” he said without missing a beat. “Playing and listening to music is very therapeutic!”

Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality major: “This will be my second undergraduate degree,” she said. “I have been in recovery from an eating disorder since October 2012, and I hope to open my own bakery and go into therapeutic cooking.” She volunteers weekends at The Phoenix House, a transitional living house for women recovering from eating disorders.

Psychology major: “I am an adult learner and I have been in recovery for five years. I am grateful for the opportunity to be in college and receiving this wonderful CYAAR Scholarship,” she said. “I plan to earn a Ph.D. and continue bereavement counseling in support of widows, widowers and their families.”

Teresa Wren Johnston, LPC, the Center’s founding director, said she is proud of the accomplishments of the 11 scholarship recipients and all 65 CYAAR students at KSU.

“In the final analysis, they are all winners because they are pursuing their dream of earning a college education,” Johnston said. “By providing social and academic support, students in CYAAR can be part of the mainstream college experience while putting their recovery and commitment to service first.”

CYAAR Run for RecoverySept. 27, 2014 at 8:30 a.m.

Each year hundreds of runners from all over participate in this run/walk around the Kennesaw State campus. The Run for Recovery 5k is a benefit run or walk to heighten community awareness about those recovering from an addiction and to raise funds to support the Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery (CYAAR). The Run takes place every year in September, during National Recovery Month.



Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 90 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 24,600 from 130 countries.

-- Robert S. Godlewski





A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit