For most students at Alverno, an internship is a foundational stepping stone on the path to evidence-based learning. For Lynne Rosenberg, it was more like serendipity.
On track to graduate in December 2012 with a degree in Psychology, she was preparing for the start of an internship at Horizon House, a drug and alcohol treatment center, when she received a call from Susan Leister, informing her the center had closed. Rosenberg shared that this is not unusual since centers are so dependent on outside funding, they often have short life spans.
Leister, the director of Alverno’s Internship Program, quickly secured another internship for Rosenberg at Meta House, a nationally recognized substance abuse treatment program dedicated to helping women through the progression of recovery. It was a familiar place for Rosenberg who lived there for six months during her own treatment for alcohol addiction. In fact, Meta House was among the eight rehab centers Rosenberg had been in and out of during her years of abuse. “For 22 years, I relapsed off and on,” she said.
During that 22-year time span, she earned a business degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and had a career in pharmaceutical sales. But most of the memories aren’t as fond. Since the time she started drinking at the age of 14, she’s been homeless, arrested, married, divorced, estranged from her family, and came close to losing her son. “None of that mattered. This is a disease,” she said. “Unless there is treatment, you will risk it all.”
It was after her last stay that Rosenberg realized there was hope. And now, she has just marked four years sober. “No one is beyond hope – even if you relapse.” She started working with women inmates at the Ozaukee County Jail nearly three years ago. It was work she was meant to do. “You have to find your passion to find your way in life.”
“I always knew I wanted to go back to school to help people because so many people tried to help me.” Eventually, she found her way to Alverno. “The degree in Psychology with a drug and alcohol counseling track was what I wanted.”
She started her internship in May 2012 at Meta House. The program relies on public and private-sector support and, this year, will celebrate 50 years of service. “That’s a very big deal,” Rosenberg exclaimed.
Julie Reichert, a substance abuse counselor at Meta House, served as Rosenberg’s mentor throughout her internship. “Lynne was strategic about achieving her goals and the goals we set for her,” Reichert said. “She always went above and beyond anything we asked of her.” Rosenberg worked in the outpatient area that serves 90 to 100 women, co-facilitated group therapy and facilitated women through a 12-step group as an introduction to Alcoholics Anonymous. She learned HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations and guidelines.
With six full-time counselors, Meta House offers comprehensive treatment to 472 women while serving 405 of their children through its child and family program in 2012. There was plenty for Rosenberg to do and learn, she said. “I took notes according to HIPAA standards and learned to do urine drops.”
As her internship was ending, Amy Lindner, CEO and president of Meta House, offered Rosenberg a part-time job. “I just started to cry. After all I have been through…” her voice trailed off.
As an employee, Rosenberg is helping with insurance coding and processing. With the help of Meta House, she has been credentialed by the State of Wisconsin as a substance abuse counselor-in-training. “She is compassionate toward women and is dedicated to our mission here at Meta House,” Reichert said. “It is my hope that she will join the staff in a full-time position.”
Rosenberg will need a master’s degree and practice hours to be a certified counselor. “I’m interested in working with opiate addiction and becoming a licensed professional counselor,” she said. And to that end, in January 2013, Rosenberg started a master’s program in Community Psychology at Alverno.
At 51, she briefly questions if she’s too old to start over. She admits to being more compassionate and less judgmental now, starting with herself. She has been forged by fire and is preparing for a life of promise: hers and the women she hopes to help.