A Dark Past Leads to a Bright Future.
November 22, 2016 by Jamie Storrow
Jesse McIntosh Manley seemed to have her life figured out when she was a teenager. She graduated from Riverton High School and was playing ball for Central Wyoming College. She had a full-ride basketball scholarship and was writing her ticket to success. But this all changed when alcohol problems turned her life upside down. She was kicked off the team because of her drinking, and lost her scholarship. She dropped out of college.
Her life had changed course and Manley became a wife and mother, and was a homemaker for 10 years.
In the fall of 2000, Manley's life took another dramatic shift when she fell into harder drugs. She began using methamphetamines, a drug that with repeated use takes a toll on the body and mind, robbing users of wellness and cognitive abilities.
“My addiction to this drug took me down within three short years…I lost everything.” But Manley’s story is one of light, redemption healing and success.
After years of drug abuse, Manley was eventually ordered by the courts to attend treatment at Southwest Counseling Services in Rock Springs, Wyoming. She was there for 15 long months. She returned home and got a job working at a gravel pit for her brother in law.
“He pushed me. He told me I should go to college,” Manley said.
When I told him I got my papers and registered for classes at Central Wyoming College he said ‘good, because you’re fired. ”
At the time Manley admits she was not pleased, but it enabled her to focus on school and attend full time.
Manley chose to study human services focusing on the addiction program option taught by Professor Wayne Montgomery. As a recovering addict, Manley knew she wanted to make her life’s work helping others.
“Being able to give back and help those in need really appealed to me.” Manley had two counselors that made a difference in her own journey to recovery.
“Toward the end of my treatment my counselor sat me down…he had this chair that fit his arms just right... He nudged me and said ‘what are you going to do when you are done here…have you ever thought about counseling? It takes someone pretty special to be a counselor, it takes a lot of brain and heart and I think you have both,’ …that experience really stuck with me,” Manley said.
Manley hadn’t been enrolled in school in years, and her determination and dedication made her push herself, or ‘punish’ herself as she says, “I made myself sit in the front row of class every day, I was determined to do well.” Her drive paid off with three semesters of a 4.0 GPA, and twice Jesse was honored as a dean’s list student.
It took Manley three years to complete her degree and she graduated in 2009. She speaks highly of her time learning under the direction of Professor Montgomery.
“He has all of the qualities of a great counselor and he portrays that to his students,” Manley said. Interning at the Center for Hope Detox Center and at Eastern Shoshone Recovery prepared Manley for where she is today. Manley is working at the White Buffalo Recovery center, fulfilling her dream of helping others.
“What I appreciated about Jesse was her persistence. She was a single mom working her way through school and she was dedicated to her education. She asked questions until she understood something. I saw her as someone genuinely interested in learning and I am proud of where she is today,” said Professor Montgomery.
“Meeting new people and helping others out of addiction is the most rewarding part of my career,” Manley said. This story is a testament to Manley’s resilience, and proof that with enough will and determination a bright future is possible.