Sociology Alumnus’ Pursuit of Education and Recovery

For the past decade Thomas Hall, Ph.D., has been at the forefront of implementing one of the most premier prevention programs in the country at the University of Central Florida. UCF has been recognized by the US Department of Education, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the state of Florida as a model prevention program.

The UCF sociology alumnus is the director of Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment & Recovery Services at UCF Student Health Services. Since 2010, Hall has mentored UCF students in recovery, enhancing their opportunities for academic success. In 2016 UCF joined a growing number of prominent universities that provide Collegiate Recovery Programs for students.

Collegiate Recovery Communities are supportive environments located on campuses for students in recovery from substance use and process addictions. UCF Student Health Services offers care to treat substance use disorders. In addition, students who join the Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) at UCF have a place to socialize, unwind, host support group meetings, and receive individualized academic advising and recovery coaching.

Hall has worked to combine UCF’s prevention, treatment and recovery programs to create a continuum of care. Most campuses treat each service separately, but Hall has worked to combine the efforts seamlessly. He believes the CRC enables students to earn their degree while maintaining recovery.

Although it hasn’t always been an easy road, Hall always knew he had a passion for education and social work. After graduating with a master’s degree in social work from Florida State University in 1993, Hall was accepted into its Ph.D. program. At the same time, he was offered a full-time job in a medical center. He reluctantly declined FSU’s offer and accepted the position. He was soon was running the adolescent inpatient mental health treatment program at Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

Throughout his career, Hall maintained an aspiration for obtaining his doctorate. But earning a Ph.D. while working full-time, and being a husband and father, was a difficult calling.

In 2004 Hall accepted the position of assistant director of the Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Prevention Programming at UCF. He became motivated by his colleagues and academic environment to pursue his dream of earning his doctoral degree. However, the road he began to travel would not be an easy one.

After his first semester, a tragic loss happened in the family which delayed his pursuit. After picking his studies back up, he unexpectedly experienced serious health issues. After open heart surgery, a lengthy recovery and yet another surgery, Hall’s academic pursuit had been prolonged and discouraged.

Hall credits the encouragement and wisdom of his professor and mentor James Wright, Ph.D., for helping him persist and finally obtain his Ph.D. in sociology in May 2016.

After a long academic journey, Hall understands the perseverance and determination required to pursue and realize your goals. This is why nothing inspires him more than watching his students overcome addiction, earn their degree and go on to be very successful.

He thanks UCF for the opportunity for success, for him and the students he mentors.

Hall maintains an appointment in the UCF College of Medicine as an affiliated instructor for psychiatry. He continues to make strides in research with two recently published book chapters in Wellness Issues for Higher Education. And currently he is working with researchers across the country on research related to academic preparation of student affairs professionals and alcohol prevention.

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