Cary Pew’s decision to relocate from North Carolina to Colorado 10 years ago is a familiar story. Looking for a life change and a new setting, Pew was drawn to the state’s beautiful landscapes and access to outdoor recreation.
“A big reason why I moved to Colorado was because I enjoyed doing all the things we like to do in Colorado, like skiing and biking,” he says.
The move also gave Pew the opportunity to pursue a different career after years of working as a construction laborer. Shortly after settling in the mountain town of Carbondale, Pew accepted a position at Jaywalker Lodge, an addiction treatment and rehabilitation center. Having discovered his passion to work with people struggling with addiction, Pew was ready to return to school, first earning his associate’s degree and a Certified Addiction Counselor credential.
After taking a new position as a counselor offering treatment to individuals in the Eagle County Drug Court program, Pew decided to pursue a Bachelor of Science in psychology through Colorado State University Online.
Balancing career with school
“I thought about quitting my job to go to school full time,” Pew says. “But for me, it really didn’t make sense because my career was still going well. I thought if I could take classes and work at the same time, I might as well take advantage of that.”
A new stint as a counselor at a private treatment center ended when the center when out of business. Pew then decided to take a full-time course load while starting his own private practice.
“I had my own business working part time doing addiction counseling, which allowed me to go to school full time,” he says. “I could set my own caseload as needed, depending how busy my class schedule was.”
Pew credits the flexibility of online education for allowing him to achieve his goals.
“There are a lot of benefits to taking classes online,” he says. “It’s really the only way I could have done the things that I wanted to do and gotten to where I want to be with my career.”
Pew will earn his degree this spring with a GPA just shy of perfect, but it won’t be long before he breaks out the school books once again. He will begin a Master of Social Work program this fall, and he credits his experience at CSU for preparing him for the rigor of graduate school.
“Every single class I’ve taken through CSU Online has been rewarding and challenging. I definitely feel like my bachelor’s degree is well deserved,” says Pew. “I put in a lot of work and I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished.”