The mission of the UConn Recovery Community is to provide a supportive community where students in recovery, and in hope of recovery, can achieve academic success while participating in a genuine college experience free from alcohol and other drugs. Established in 2013, the Community offers weekly meetings for students struggling with addiction or substance use, provides a safe space for students, and even provides Recovery Housing located in the Cordial Storrs House, pictured above.
In 2015, the John Carter Whitney Scholarship for Students in Recovery was created to provide financial support for students in recovery at the University who participate in the UConn Recovery Community. The UConn Recovery Community is pleased to announce that Shannon Sullivan, MS is the 2019 recipient of the John Carter Whitney Scholarship. Shannon is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology. She has been in recovery since 2014.
“To stay active in my recovery while I pursue my PhD, I continue to attend meetings and offer help to others when the opportunity is presented. The UConn Recovery Community was a great way to help me connect with other people in recovery on campus. My rock bottom seems like such a long time ago now and even seems like a completely different person. I know that I need to remember and put my recovery first because that person is only a drink away.” – Shannon Sullivan, MS
About John Carter Whitney
As shared by his sister.
My brother and I grew up very close. We were adopted into the same family as babies. We were 20 months apart in age. The family we were adopted into was riddled with alcoholism and prescription pain medication addiction. Our adoptive parents divorced when we were two and four years old and our mother remarried immediately to an abusive man. We endured abuse for our entire childhoods. We were given alcohol regularly at a very young age in one household and mind-altering prescription medication in the other. As we grew older, we both went down different paths. I am a recovering alcoholic who found the rooms of a 12-step program in early adulthood. I tried to do the program my way for years and ended up sober for three years, dry for five years and then experienced a horrific five-year relapse before I found my way back into the program in my 30’s. I have been sober since December 25, 2005 and remain actively involved in the program.
Although my brother and I did attend 12 step meetings together, in a different program from 1994-1996 for issues related to our childhood abuse, my brother was already addicted to pain medication. His addiction took off when he was in college. The childhood trauma, abandonment issues, and early exposure to mind-altering medication as a child created the perfect storm for my brother to seek pain medication for TMJ and anxiety while in college. Watching him spiral down the dark path of addiction was painful. There are no words that describe where his disease took him. My brother was in and out of inpatient facilities for many years and the number of medications he would leave each facility with was indescribable.
My brother battled many things for most of his life. He was an addict, anorexic, and bullied because he was gay. When I received the call from my mother that he had died from an accidental opioid overdose on December 1, 2011, I was devastated. The grief was overwhelming for a very long time and even now as I write this. The survivor’s guilt and wondering why I was able to find my way into recovery and he wasn’t haunted me but I knew that I wanted to channel my grief and pain in a positive way. I decided to create the John Carter Whitney Memorial Scholarship. My hope is that my brother’s tragedy will help college students who are also healing from trauma and addiction while trying to get their education. I can’t help but wonder if my brother would still be alive today had his college had a recovery community available.
My decision to also include my brother’s memorial scholarship in my estate plan is to make sure that he and I will continue to change lives.