University student awarded Hope for Addiction scholarship


Courtesty of Grace Alello

Psychology major Grace Alello was awarded the Hope for Addiction scholarship by RCA for her essay on overcoming addiction. Alello continues to use her vulnerability in hopes of uplifting others.

Because overcoming addiction is a journey that demands persistence, organizations across the nation have worked to assure college students that their hard work also comes with reward.

Recovery Centers of America awarded this year’s Hope for Addiction Scholarship to university student Abril “Grace” Alello. The psychology major from Walker, Louisiana transformed her story of survival into one of the award-winning essays.

Through her love of writing, Alello aimed to present a voice of hope to others battling addiction.

“Writing has always been an outlet of sorts for me, and I find it easier to express my thoughts on paper,” explained Alello. “It is also important to me to present a voice of hope—to be an example to others who have been affected by addiction that change is possible, no matter how hopeless the situation may seem.”

Alello explained that the impact of vulnerability is worth a bit of discomfort.

“There are always risks attached to being vulnerable,” said Alello. “That is why, to me, it is an act of courage, but I believe the benefits can be great. When I choose to share my past experiences with addiction and my current experiences in recovery, I am reinforcing the freedom from the power that addiction held over my life for so long.”

Alello expressed hope that her transparency will spark a conversation among others battling addiction.

“I am allowing for the chance that what I say may give someone else hope or inspire them to reach out for help, and I am creating an opportunity for authenticity and meaningful human connection,” said Alello. “When I open up about my fears, and feelings, and struggles and pain, maybe someone else will too. It all starts with one voice, right?”

As she continued on her road to recovery, Alello also endured outside criticism.

“I have been accused of loving drugs more than my family, my kids, myself,” shared Alello. “I have been told that if I were committed enough, strong enough, disciplined enough, I could stop.”

Alello shared what she has learned from overcoming the judgement of others.

“I have learned in recovery that I can be my biggest obstacle to success,” said Alello. “If I allow the fear of judgment, rejection or failure to dictate my actions or lack thereof, then I have lowered the bar of what I may accomplish.”

Alello has now aspired to complete her undergraduate degree and become a certified addiction counselor.

“I want very badly to use my experience to benefit others, but I am also aware that, without the proper education and training, I could do more harm than good,” said Alello.“In working towards a psychology degree, I am gaining a better understanding of human behavior, the methods used to study it and the roles that research plays in effective treatments.”

For Alello, pursuing higher level education was the right investment for her future.

“I have not regretted it a day since I enrolled,” said Alello. “I have been challenged, tired, and at times, discouraged, but I also found that the Southeastern family was full of good people, who are accepting, encouraging and inclusive.”

Alello expressed gratitude towards the university for helping her reach goals that previously felt unobtainable.

“If anyone had told me a few short years ago that I would be thriving in my college classes today and getting so much out of them, I would not have believed it,” said Alello. “I feel privileged to be a part of the Southeastern family and am grateful for the opportunity to grow.”

Alello gave final words of advice, encouraging others to ignore the lies that addiction cultivates.

“Addiction would have you believe that you are not good enough or strong enough to overcome,” said Alello. “It will convince you that no one can really understand where you are coming from, that you should be ashamed. It will tell you that you have gone too far to turn back now, and it will all be a lie.”

As millions of Americans continue to battle with addiction, Alello emphasized that no one has to go through it alone.

“The truth is, that good people struggle with hard things every day,” shared Alello. “Maybe this is one of your struggles, but you don’t have to struggle alone. I can’t emphasize enough that we are stronger together.”