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College educator rises from addiction to help Native American populations

David Patterson with students at Washington University in St. Louis. Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

David Patterson with students at Washington University in St. Louis. Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

When he was in his 20’s David Patterson was an alcohol and drug addict who was contemplating suicide until an uncle helped reconnect him to his Cherokee heritage, according to this article in the New York Times.

Gaining knowledge of his American Indian ancestry inspired Patterson to go to college and get a master’s degree and doctorate in social work from the University of Louisville. He is now  a tenure-track assistant professor at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.

Patterson, 49, has done groundbreaking research on social problems affecting American Indian communities. His research focuses on intervention strategies for substance abusers in underserved populations, particularly American Indians.

“He brings to the table new strategies, new ways and new perspectives to think about,” said Pete Coser, the program manager for the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies at the Brown School. “His story and experiences will be able to bring, at least, a light to those that are experiencing it now. Things that plague Indian country. How do we get over the mental monster that keeps us in that box?”

Cheers to the New York Times for telling Patterson’s story.

Social workers are committed to equal treatment and social justice for all. To learn more visit the National Association of Social Workers’ Diversity and Equity website.

 

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