Online Psychology Degree Leads to New Career

Posted by on Wed, May 7, 2014
From client to case manager: a social worker pays it forward


Arthur Chappell, a former United States marine, earned his BS in psychology from Kaplan University so he could help people recover from substance abuse. Chappell is now a case manager at the same outreach center he credits for his own recovery.


As a recovering addict, Arthur Chappell wanted to help people get their lives back on track, just as the substance abuse counselors at Florida’s Broward Outreach Center had helped him. “My problem wasn’t the drugs and alcohol,” Chappell explains, “my problem was me.” When he finally came to this realization, it was an important turning point in Chappell’s life, one which led him into recovery. Now Chappell focuses his life on pulling others out of addiction. “I feel like I am obligated to give back,” he says, “because someone took the time to help me.” Chappell began working at the same outreach center that had been so pivotal in his own life but found that a career in social work requires a bachelor’s degree, so he decided to return to college. “I chose Kaplan University,” Chappell says, “because the college has a great reputation in the industry.”

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Going back to college at 50 presented a challenge for Chappell. “I wasn’t sure if I was up for it,”  he admits. “The hard part for me was believing that I could do it,” he adds. But in the end, Chappell thrived. At Kaplan’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, he studied the psychology, behaviors, and motivators behind substance abuse as well as  fundamentals of social work, such as writing up case reports and communicating effectively. “I was really impressed with my professors,” Chappell remembers. “They actually worked and had experience in the field. That was really enlightening. They made it easy to understand and comprehend the classwork and were always supportive and available to help,” he describes. Today, Chappell has a BS in psychology with a concentration in substance abuse. “I feel so empowered,” he says, adding, “my confidence has soared!  I have no doubts about my knowledge.” Nor do his coworkers who have told him how impressed they are, “not just that I earned my degree, but that I had the courage to go back to school.”

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Arthur Chappell is now a case manager at the Broward Outreach Center where his online psychology degree has allowed him to work with substance abuse clients on a fundamental level. Chappell helps them stabilize their lives by finding them housing and employment, teaches classes that help residents recognize their addictive behaviors, and gives his clients tools to deal with their addictions. “My education helped me to better understand my clients to help them recover,” he says.

Chappell also credits his education with allowing him to “reach out and help more people” in the community. “Getting my degree,” he says, “was one of the primary reasons I was able to expand outside the compounds of where I’m employed.” With his new credentials, Chappell has been speaking at other facilities beyond the Broward Center including hospitals and schools that bring help to the families of substance abusers.

Ten years sober and recently married, Chappell is in a good place. “I get up every morning, man, and I look forward to going to work, I really do,” Chappell says, “and it’s a big responsibility too. I make people feel good about themselves. I give them back their self esteem. And the longer I work in the field, the more I love what I do.” Chappell has plans to earn his master’s degree from Kaplan in the future. “I have recommended Kaplan University to many people,” he says, “including my clients and colleagues. I say, if you’re serious about getting an education, and if you have a busy schedule, Kaplan University would be a great choice.”

Has anyone ever inspired you to “pay it forward” in your life? Share your story here.

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