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Grad student wants to use degree to help addicts

By Corene Brisendine

Kristy Soloski is a Ph.D. student at Kansas State University in human ecology.

She decided to focus her degree on drug abuse because of some family members.

“Substance abuse is something that is near and dear to my heart,” she said. “I’ve had a couple of extended family members struggle with substance abuse. So, it’s something that I really wanted to help make an impact on so people don’t have to struggle with that through their lives.”

Soloski said life is a struggle even without substance abuse, and she wants to continue researching ways to help people whether they are teens or adults struggling with drug abuse.

She decided to work at Pawnee Mental Health during her final year a K-State because it allowed her to spend more time counseling people with drug problems.

“As I transitioned into my final year, I decided that Pawnee would be a good fit to doing substance abuse work and working with clients full time instead,” she said.

Before working at Pawnee, she was working with clients and teaching courses at K-State’s family center.

After Soloski graduates in May, she said that she hopes to find a faculty position at another university helping train the next generation of counselors as well as continuing to work with clients.

However, that doesn’t mean she will not forget her two and a half years in Manhattan.

“I will be leaving the Manhattan area, which is really sad to me,” she said. “I’ve really gotten to love this little town.”

Originally from Ohio, she said she is still getting used to the area as well as the weather. Compared to her home, she said that Manhattan gets colder in the winter and hotter in the summer, but she doesn’t mind it because there is less snow.

She became a psychology major by chance rather than choice.

Soloski said that when she first started school, she had chosen business as her focus. Then, after taking a few psychology courses, changed her major.

“It kind of happened serendipitously,” she said. “I started by taking a few psychology courses and eventually called my parents and told them I was switching majors. They weren’t too pleased. So, I kind of eased into it.”

She said that she has always “had a heart” for listening to people’s stories and wanted to help them through their problems.

She said that she chose K-State because it has “the best marriage and family therapy program in the nation.”

Even though she doesn’t have a partner or children, she said that she hopes to have both in the future. But like her career, she said that she plans to “just go with the flow.”

A piece of advice she said everyone can use is to continue to challenge yourself to be the person you want to be.

“I think it takes an effort every day to be the person we want to be and we’re the person who has to take care of ourselves and challenge ourselves to be better,” Soloski said. “So, be that best friend to yourself and be the best person you can.”

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