Celebrating 10 Years of Cougars in Recovery: Transforming Lives at the University of Houston - University of Houston
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DSA News
February 22, 2024

The Division of Student Affairs, Cougars in Recovery (CIR) has been quietly but powerfully transforming the lives of students battling addiction. As CIR celebrates its 10th anniversary, it is a moment to reflect on the remarkable journey of resilience, support, and triumph (success).

Cougars In Recovery, December 2023 Graduates
Cougars In Recovery, December 2023 Graduates

Established in the fall semester of 2013, Cougars in Recovery has been a beacon of hope for students navigating the challenging landscape of addiction while pursuing their academic dreams. Over the past decade, CIR has served and supported over 300 University of Houston (UH) students, providing them with the resources, community, and encouragement they need to thrive in recovery and academics. One of the students who participated in CIR, Mason said, “Over the last ten years Cougars in Recovery has provided a space for students to explore opportunities that would never have been afforded to them in other circumstances. Due to their innovative methods and overwhelming dedication to their students, many students in recovery have been able to realize their passion and potential. For me personally, I feel so much less alone on campus, as I know that there is a community of people just like me on campus willing to support me through my struggles and celebrate my successes. They truly are leaders in the industry, and I am honored to have been a part of it.”

One of the most remarkable aspects of CIR's impact lies in its alumni network, which boasts over 100 members. Even more inspiring is the statistic that 83% of CIR alumni have maintained their recovery from substance use disorder after graduation. This speaks volumes about the enduring support and guidance provided by the program, which extends far beyond the confines of campus life.

Moreover, the academic success of CIR participants is truly noteworthy. With a six-year retention and graduation rate of 79% for First Time in College (Freshman) community members, and a four-year retention and graduation rate of 75% for transfer student community members, CIR has consistently demonstrated its commitment to empowering students to achieve their educational goals. On average, First Time in College community members graduate in five years, while transfer student community members graduate in three years, highlighting the program's efficacy in facilitating timely academic progression.

The academic achievements of CIR members are further underscored by their impressive cumulative GPA of 3.47 for the 2022-2023 school year. This speaks volumes about their dedication to academic excellence, despite the challenges they may face in their personal lives.

Equally significant is the fact that 93% of CIR community members maintained their recovery last school year, a testament to the program's comprehensive approach to wellness and support. With the upcoming spring semester set to serve 60 community members, including 19 individuals utilizing the Recovery Townhouse, CIR continues to expand its reach and impact within the University of Houston community.

CIR's commitment to excellence and innovation has not gone unnoticed. In October 2023, it became one of ten collegiate recovery programs to be officially accredited in the country, a testament to its adherence to the highest standards of care and support for students in recovery. Chris Dawe, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs - Health and Wellbeing, said “To have the Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE) recognize UH as having one of the first officially accredited programs in the country is truly remarkable. More and more institutions around the country are recognizing the importance of having a program like this, and what John and his team have created is truly a model of how to do this exceptionally well.” This year, CIR is proud to co-host the inaugural Southwest Regional Collegiate Recovery Retreat, further cementing its position as a leader in collegiate recovery programs nationwide.

As Cougars in Recovery celebrates its 10th anniversary, it is not only a time to celebrate past achievements but also to look forward with optimism and determination. With a decade of transformative impact behind them, CIR remains steadfast in its mission to empower students in recovery to thrive personally, academically, and professionally. As they continue to change lives and break down barriers, the future looks brighter than ever for Cougars in Recovery at the University of Houston. John Shiflet, director of Cougars in Recovery said, “It has been an honor to serve as the director of Cougars in Recovery for the past ten years. This program and the community members I have served have given me so much purpose and gratitude. I have such a deep appreciation of being a part of so many students' recovery and academic journeys. It is only because of the amazing students who chose Cougars in Recovery to support them, that the program has seen the success it has. I am excited to see what the next ten years bring to Cougars in Recovery.

Written by: Germaine Washington, Director of Marketing and Communication, Division of Student Affairs