Working Through Addiction to Help Others

Working Through Addiction to Help Others

ROSEBURG, Oregon – If anyone knows what it’s like to go through addiction and find their way through, it’s Tami Quamme. A wife and mother of four, Tami has overcome quite a bit to get to this point in her life. She is now a certified alcohol and drug counselor at Adapt in Roseburg and has her experience at Umpqua Community College (UCC) to thank.

Raised in Modesto, Calif., Tami moved to Douglas County in 2003 to get away from trouble and become clean and sober. During her own recovery, she discovered she wanted to do something to help others. She decided to go to college and study human services.

“My addiction is what brought me to UCC,” she said. “When I was 32, I went back to school just so I could work at DHS (Department of Human Services) because I really was inspired to help people.”

During her time at UCC, Tami accomplished a lot. When asked if her UCC degree helped with the career that she’s in now, Tami said absolutely, “In fact, I was hired as a result of my cooperative work experience.”

Along with being at the right place at the right time, Tami was very involved.

“I was a member of the honor society and I was also named the outstanding Human Services student of the year,” she said.

After graduating from UCC, Tami took the summer off.

“Being a mom and going to school to full-time was difficult,” she said. “I had to fulfill my mom duties by going home and getting the kids fed and put to bed at a certain time. Some nights I didn’t finish my schoolwork till one or two in the morning. Trying to find a balance between work, kids, and school was hard when every term there’s a new schedule. It was very challenging.”

But it didn’t take long for Tami to return to school. She decided to take online classes through Eastern Oregon University. She steadily worked to earn a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts degree.

“Although it was hard since there was nobody to help, and no peers to surround you as you would in an on-campus study, I enjoyed taking classes online at Eastern Oregon,” she said.

Tami found it very beneficial to have someone at UCC who is connected with Eastern Oregon, so if she had any questions, she always went to her contact on campus. After finishing her studies at Eastern Oregon, Tami wasn’t quite finished with her education. She went back to school and earned a master’s degree at Grand Canyon University.

“Furthering my education really helped me get to where I am today,” she said. “I’ve been a counselor for over nine years now, and I feel that my education has finally caught up with my life experiences. All the instructors at UCC were so encouraging. The skills that I learned from them has grown so much.”

When asked for any words of wisdom for any student who is studying Human Services, she responded with this:

“I use everything I learned from my instructors and the classes that were provided,” she said. “It really taught me what I need to know going into this field of work. Take advantage of tutors and get involved with everything you can at UCC. Volunteer in as many opportunities as you can, and form study groups. Getting lots of help will only help you succeed more. Don’t settle on grades, keep pushing. There’s a need for people like you in the world.”

Tami still volunteers with UCC. She currently serves as an advisory committee member for the Human Services program.

Story by Hannah Horvath
UCC Scholar
Student Contributor

About Umpqua Community College

Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.


Sandra Angeli-Gade
Program Coordinator, Assistant Professor, Human Services
Phone: 541-440-4679