Marissa Mangione, a senior WVU mental health and addiction studies student, talks with fellow student workers at Serenity Place — the home of Collegiate Recovery on the University’s Morgantown Campus. (WVU Photo/Derek Artimez)

WVU Collegiate Recovery crafts community along the recovery path

Offering ways for West Virginia University students to find support by forging connections with others, the Collegiate Recovery Program serves the University’s mission of putting students first — no matter the challenges they’re facing. 

Marissa Mangione, a senior mental health and addiction studies major from Richboro, Pennsylvania, attributes her involvement in Collegiate Recovery, which operates out of Serenity Place at Arnold House, with helping make her college experience meaningful.  

“Collegiate Recovery has given me a home away from home,” Mangione said. “This program has shown me how to love myself, others and the community that has given me so much.” 

Established in 2016, Collegiate Recovery is a peer support program dedicated to helping Mountaineers find a healthy, balanced and meaningful life on campus through recovery programs and counseling offered in a supportive community.  

The University Collegiate Recovery community will be part of National Collegiate Recovery Week April 15-19, with activities open to all, no matter the person’s recovery status. See the schedule.

“Our program has always been a very broad-facing program,” said Director Olivia Dale Pape. “We want to be open and available to as many students as possible, as we know building community is important for everyone, but especially for our friends in or seeking recovery.” 

From the beginning, Pape helped build Serenity Place as a safe space for people who are in, seeking or supporting recovery — the kinds of services she once sought for herself as a person in long-term recovery.

“I couldn’t find resources in the community, and through a series of kismet events, I found a group at the University, led by Cathy Yura, that was trying to start a collegiate recovery program. I got involved with them,” she said. 

Students affected by substance use disorders, students dealing with mental health concerns like depression or anxiety, or those looking to support others in recovery are all welcome.

Designed to reduce any stigma associated with recovery, Serenity Place offers a laid-back environment that serves as the setting for assorted activities and events. The space includes a lounge area, fitness equipment, a yoga and meditation studio, as well as a stocked kitchen, open each weekday during fall and spring terms.

“We are getting comfortable. We are being mindful. We are opening the space for people to come in and talk if they want to,” Pape said. “These are all opportunities to build community and start conversation.”

Building community is especially important at a time when more than 51% of college students report feelings of loneliness, according to results from the Fall 2023 American College Health Association National College Health Assessment.

At Collegiate Recovery, wellness-oriented programming fills the schedule, from support groups and mindfulness sessions to yoga and crafts. 

Weekly events during academic semesters include Start Your Day Right, an intention setting and gratitude practice at 9 a.m. Monday-Friday; Color Me Mindful, a mindfulness activity with coloring at 3 p.m. Wednesdays and the Well-Being Support Group meeting at 1 p.m. Thursdays.

Additionally, Collegiate Recovery offers Recovery Ally trainings, substance use education and other services, coordinates with WELLWVU for naloxone training and distribution, and has overseen the installation of dozens of ONEboxes, emergency opioid overdose reversal kits, across campus.

Preston Quigley, a sophomore social work major from Lafayette, Indiana, credits Collegiate Recovery with opening the college door to him. 

After moving to Morgantown two years ago before he was enrolled at the University, Quigley regularly visited Serenity Place where he talked often with Andrew Caryl, program coordinator and one of the original students in Collegiate Recovery.

“I just kept saying, ‘At some point I’m going want to go to school here and I will let you know when that is.’ I was figuring out my life,” Quigley said. 

“Eventually that day came where I was like, ‘Alright, I’m ready,’ and so, Collegiate Recovery was a huge help. It was very daunting, the idea of going back to school, but I had Collegiate Recovery there.”

Pape said no one should have to choose between their education and their recovery.

“The welcoming environment that I’ve experienced at Collegiate Recovery has allowed me to feel more involved at WVU in a stress-free environment,” said Quigley, who remains active in the program. 

“It’s just given me that support, the moral support that is so important.” 

Read more about the Collegiate Recovery Program. 

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