(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Leigh Anne Folger is using her life experience as a road map to help others.
Folger, a 2017 graduate of Texas State Technical College’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program, is a counselor at Addiction Behavioral Services. Prior to joining the staff, she worked as a counselor at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Thomas R. Havins Unit in Brownwood.
“I know I am not responsible for my clients’ decisions. I can’t take credit for their success or get down if they fail,” she said. “All I do is provide them with the information that can help them. I hold up the road map to a successful life. They have to want to drive the car.”
Folger said she got her life on track after being released from prison. She knew a career in the medical field would not be possible, but another option was available.
“I made a lot of bad decisions in my life, and they finally caught up to me,” she said. “I knew that I would never have a career in the field I once dreamed of, which was the medical field. So I thought, ‘Why don’t I become a counselor?’ I knew I could help people by using my life experiences.”
Folger reconnected with a friend and classmate at Addiction Behavioral Services, Laura Weaver. Folger credits Weaver for steering her to TSTC’s counseling program.
“I had these unrealistic fears of failing. I was kind of hesitant to enroll,” she said. “Laura said she would meet me at the school.”
Once Folger walked onto the Brownwood campus, she felt at ease.
“Everyone had a smile on their face. No one was bothered by all of the questions I had,” she said. “Everyone at TSTC made me excited about going back to school.”
After graduation, Folger began working for the Havins Unit. It served as a reminder for her to move forward.
“I love what I do. Working at the unit felt like a reminder that I did not want to go back,” she said.
She also knew which inmates needed the most help.
“About 60 percent of the guys had already made up their mind that they did not want to return to prison,” Folger said. “It was those individuals on the fence that I targeted. I wanted to persuade them that the grass was greener on the outside.”
When the chance came to work for Addiction Behavioral Services, she did not hesitate.
“Looking back, I enjoyed my time at the unit. I just wanted to make a change,” Folger said. “Being able to work with Laura was also amazing. Everything has come full circle for me.”
Folger continues to praise TSTC and the staff for helping her find her way.
“Had it not been for TSTC, there is no telling where I would be right now,” she said. “TSTC was amazing. (Instructor) Elizabeth Jones is amazing. She has more insight than anyone in this field. I even recommend TSTC to people looking to restart their life. It worked for me.”
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.