Community, University scholarships support Kennesaw State students in recovery

KENNESAW, Ga. | Oct 3, 2022

Kennesaw State University junior Jeremy Beck said his collegiate journey has had more ups and downs than most.

After a rocky freshman year at KSU in 2016 using drugs and alcohol to escape a sense of not belonging, the Cumming native said he fell deeper and deeper into addiction until he “crashed and burned” out of school.

He worked a short-lived job as an air traffic controller in Wyoming before returning home to complete a 30-day rehabilitation and six months at a sober living facility, but soon Beck found himself working a job he didn’t love and pondering school again.

“I was just tired of what I was doing, and I thought it would really help my career if I could finish my degree, so I started asking around for recommendations of where I should finish it,” he said.

A friend told Beck he should investigate KSU’s Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery’s collegiate recovery program. He started school and joined the collegiate recovery program (CRP) in the summer of 2021.

Jeremy Beck
Jeremy Beck

On Friday, Beck stood at the podium of CYAAR’s Collegiate Recovery Scholarship Breakfast to congratulate 26 other program students for earning one of the nine endowed scholarships or one of seventeen general scholarships for a total of more than $50,000. Many of the scholarships are in memory of lost loved ones or in celebration of graduation from the program, and the event culminated with the announcement of a new endowment: Taylor-Koonin Family Scholarship in Memory of Brian Waronker.

The annual breakfast event celebrates student successes and thanks supporters for donating funds for CYAAR’s scholarships and other initiatives for students in recovery.

Beck, a scholarship recipient and now the student president of the collegiate recovery program, said the dedication of the center’s staff, support of donors and community of students with similar experiences made staying the course of recovery in school possible for him and so many others.

“When I was in sober living, I was expecting to go back to school and not have any friends,” Beck said. “I’m older than most college students. I’m completely sober, so I’m not going to parties, and I just wasn’t expecting to find a group to mesh into. But CYAAR immediately provided me with that group of people, which made transitioning from addiction and full-time work into student life way easier.”

During her address at the breakfast, KSU President Kat Schwaig said CYAAR has over its 15 years helped thousands of students through alcohol and drug prevention and education, recovery support services, research assistantships and internships.

Schwaig also said that in Spring 2021, students in the recovery program had an average GPA of 3.34, with 43 percent receiving all A’s and more than 70 percent maintaining or improving their GPA. Last academic year, 11 students met their graduation goal, she added.

“These students work so hard to overcome past academic struggles while maintaining their recovery from substance use disorders, eating disorders and other addictive concerns,” Schwaig said. “For many, this program and center are a renewal of hope, and we are grateful for the opportunity to provide that to them.”

Daniel Krasner, executive vice president of business development at Summit Behavioral Healthcare and alumnus of the collegiate recovery program, said the CRP helped keep him on a stable path forward as he dealt with the loss of his sister to a drug overdose and introduced him to networking opportunities that have resulted in a 12-year career.

Krasner said he’d been to several treatment facilities, community college and achieved years of sobriety before joining the program at KSU, but he said he still found a sense of belonging he hadn’t before. He said he credits CYAAR with making possible his graduation from KSU in 2011 with a 3.9 GPA.

“I know without a doubt that I would not be in the place I am today without the center. It changed my life and put people in my life that I didn’t even know I needed,” Krasner said.

Beck added, “The students here inspire me and prove to me that just because my past is muddy and painful, does not mean that my future will include anything other than accomplishing my dreams. So, thank you all for helping mold me into the person I am today.” 

– By Thomas Hartwell
Photos by Darnell Wilburn

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. 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 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit