Making Waves in Santa Barbara


Rock wall on campus near the lagoon during CUCRC.

The 2015–2016 academic year marked milestones in large events, commendations and student successes at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

There has been a lot of buzz at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), this year. To start, last fall it hosted the fourth annual California Unified Collegiate Recovery Conference (CUCRC), which brought together approximately 200 students in recovery, allies, advisors and community members to network and discuss new, emerging and established collegiate recovery programs.

Having the conference hosted at the university— home to a thriving collegiate recovery program — was the culmination of the latest cause championed by Angie Bryan, the school’s recovery specialist in the Alcohol & Drug Program who tirelessly advocates for students who wish to pursue sober lives.

This spring, Bryan was honored for her efforts with the 2015–2016 Staff Citation of Excellence Award from the UCSB Staff Assembly, which acknowledged her dedication to collegiate recovery on campus and off. Bryan, a licensed marriage and family therapist who has been at the university for over a decade, has been working in the Alcohol and Drug Program in Student Health since 2011. In 2012, she founded Gauchos for Recovery, a program that provides support and social activities for students in recovery; it is one of the first programs of its kind in the University of California system.

In her nomination of Bryan, Jacqueline Kurta, director of the UCSB Alcohol and Drug Program, notes that Bryan “has dedicated herself to providing care to students, particularly those who are struggling with issues of alcohol and drug addiction. She has championed the needs and rights of students in recovery, advocating on the UCSB campus as well as at the University of California Office of the President, for services that will allow students in recovery and those seeking recovery to have the opportunity to thrive on campus.”

By bringing the CUCRC conference to campus, Kurta says Bryan attracted the support of local and national treatment providers for the work of Gauchos for Recovery. “It brought much-needed attention to the critical issues of decreasing stigma around addiction and co-occurring disorders and increasing the commitment to supporting recovery services on the UCSB campus and other campuses throughout the country,” Kurta notes. “Angie’s passion and support for students in recovery has immeasurably changed the lives of the students she has already touched and has paved the way for countless more students for whom the UCSB college experience would not be possible.”


Angie Bryan, winner of the 2015-2016 Staff Citation of Excellence Award from the UCSB Staff Assembly.
Left to right: Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Marc Fisher; Angie Bryan; Chancellor Henry Yang

Bryan, though honored by the commendation, keeps her eyes to the horizon and continues to seek ways for the program to improve and grow. For example, she is currently looking to bolster the university’s recovery peer intern program in which UCSB students in recovery share their experience, strength and hope with other students in recovery as well as those who are struggling with substance use. “We have two new peer recovery interns, and I am working to get them trained as certified recovery specialists,” Bryan says.

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