Sandy Mistretta says that returning to school later in life to attend SBCC was one her best decisions. She took a year off from college when she was 19, and returned 30 years later. In 2011, she graduated from SBCC with a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, then transferred to Antioch University Santa Barbara to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Sandy now works as a licensed MFT (Marriage Family Therapist) and clinical director at an established treatment center for women who struggle with co-occurring disorders. She supervises 10 trainees and associates who are studying to become therapists, and also teaches at Antioch. She’s currently pursuing an additional certification in her field, and may go on to earn doctorate in psychology after she retires.

“None of this would have happened without the encouragement from faculty and staff at SBCC—everyone was so helpful,” she said. “And believe me, returning to school at age 49 was a blow to my ego, and the best thing I have ever done!”

Recalling her experience at SBCC, Sandy says she loved working at the career center and meeting so many “wonderful and supportive people.” She participated in EOPS, and says that the staff there inspired her to reach for the stars. She also spent a lot of time in the library and the resource center, learning computer skills and how to craft papers. “Everyone was so patient. The resources at SBCC really helped me succeed.”

An excellent student, Sandy was voted “Outstanding Student of the Year” by EOPS and the Addictive Disorders Counseling program staff. She also made it to the third round for a large scholarship award.

“SBCC was a magical time in my life, filled with hope and possibilities,” Sandy said. “I draw upon the education I received on regular basis, and encourage clients who are struggling with life choices to consider pursuing an education at SBCC. I didn’t realize there were so many good people in the world until I went to SBCC.”

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