Thomas Henneman

Lassen Adult School


In His Own Words

On April 19, 2001 I had my last drink of alcohol. On Easter Sunday, 2003 I celebrated my second year of sobriety. During that time, I've received my high school diploma, entered community college, completed my third semester, and received highest honors and two scholarships. I have been honored with a request to be the guest speaker for the graduation ceremonies at Lassen Community College for the Lassen Unified High School District's Adult School Diploma Gold Program. If I had known what I know now, I most certainly would have pursued a higher education when I was much younger. However, I have few regrets as to how my life has turned out, for, you see, this is who I am. I certainly have been fortunate to find the path that I was meant to fulfill. I am an intern with the Lassen County Department of Drug and Alcohol in Lassen County, California. I am pursuing working with adolescents who have drug and/or alcohol problems and their families. With all the family issues, peer pressure, and school problems teens face each and every day, I hope to assist them in, at the very least, showing them that they have choices they can make to control their lives, rather than outside influences controlling their lives for them. I hope to send out the message that life does not have to be wasted on a life of drugs and alcohol and the ultimate death that that life style brings with it.

I made a commitment to myself that no matter what the first step for me was to get my high school diploma. By returning to school I have overcome the stigma associated with not having a high school diploma. For thirty-eight years I carried that with me. During that time I lied, made up excuses and all the time I was embarrassed to admit that my life needed serious work to achieve fulfillment. I learned that the teachers and counselors at school would be a tremendous help in achieving my goals. These fine professionals went way beyond their call to assist me in achieving my dream of a better education and the opportunity to move beyond. Each knows most of my history as a human being and my history as a substance abuser. Not one has ever discouraged me or looked down on me as a person with problems to deal with. Getting my high school diploma has given me the confidence and self esteem to advance on to college. Specifically, it has given me the interest in writing. Now I write reports that the judicial system uses to evaluate parole and probation clients.

In my past I was a user of drugs and alcohol. Each day now is a day without either substance that controls my life. I can be of service to the sufferer because I have been there and maybe I can show them how I have stayed clean. They may listen or they may not, but if just one does listen it will be well worth the effort. It is my duty as a human being to share what it means to live a life without drugs and/or alcohol, and to point out that education is a large part of my recovery. I now have the means to put the word out to the people I come in contact with almost every day. I have found the resources to make education an attainable goal and if a person wants it, they too can discover a sense of fulfillment that is theirs if they work for it.

To those who are pursuing goals through adult education; trust your teachers and counselors, never hesitate to ask questions, you never know you may be helping someone too shy to ask for themselves. Stretch your brain. If you are going to be "a student", "be a student". Give yourself the means to study, and commit you time and self to explore your own mind. Allow yourself to know what you are capable of. Most importantly share what knowledge you have. Sharing is the best way to learn and exercise what you know. Don't stop. Education is a road, not a destination that we arrive at then stop.

I will start my fourth semester tomorrow, August 18, 2003. I will continue with my internship at the Department of Drug and Alcohol. I plan on continuing on through this coming spring and beyond until I achieve a Bachelor's Degree in Human Services. This could not happen without a beginning, and the Lassen Adult School Diploma Gold Program has made it possible for me to make that beginning.

From His Teacher

Thomas is an adult who has taken on significant life responsibilities in his choice of career and his service to his community. He has established and met specific life goals as a result of completing our adult education program, Diploma Gold. Without our program, Thomas would not have been able to succeed at Lassen Community College. He has improved the life situation of himself and others as a result of this learning experience and has gone out in our community to help others to achieve what he has achieved. The doors for working with others would not have opened without his high school diploma. As you have read, Thomas has overcome difficult circumstances in order to pursue adult learning experiences.