From ‘Destitute to Dean’s List’
Bruce Weihsmantel enrolled at Minneapolis College two years ago, unsure of what he wanted to study but was committed to helping others. His experiences in recovery from chemical dependency led him to a career in social work.
“I had no plans in my life except getting high,” said Weihsmantel. “I lost my job; lost my apartment. I was homeless, living out of suitcases, and suffering from severe psychosis. I decided that living this way was not okay and enrolled myself into an inpatient treatment program at the Pride Institute.”
His decision to turn his life around gave him courage and a new direction. “The principles of recovery have had a lot of meaning in my life. I learned about myself and how to be a better person through my time in recovery. Over time I learned how to be aware of my emotions and where they could take me. I was never able to imagine I could be passionate about anything, let alone helping people until I got sober.”
Weihsmantel, living in Minneapolis, decided to enroll in Minneapolis College and pursue an education that would lead to a career in social services. “I asked myself: ‘Can I keep going on a path of a more activated self? How can I do more to keep this going?’ I was always terrified of school, but I had an idea of what I wanted to do: help people in social work or some sort of counseling.”
He worked in the service industry, particularly hit hard by the pandemic. “COVID showed me how fragile that ecosystem is,” Weihsmantel said. “It brought me into wanting to be of service. So, I continued down a pre-social work pathway.”
“My idea is an internship in something to do with case management – specifically in community outreach and education like working with people with HIV.” Weihsmantel says he is Gay and wants to focus his social work on the LBGTQ community.
He credits Michael Kuhne, his English literature instructor, as bringing out his talent as a writer in helping him on a career path. The feeling is mutual.
“Working with Bruce in first-year college English courses has been a delight,” Kuhne said. “To be fair, Bruce came into the courses with considerable writing skills. What I have seen develop over time has been not only his continued improvement as a writer but also his confidence as a writer and a student.”
It was most notable in the research writing course, Kuhne said. “Bruce seems to have found his voice, and this has raised the level of his work and the work of his peers,” Kuhne said. “It's been incredibly exciting to be a part of that development.”
Weihsmantel said his “next step is the Minneapolis College Internship Assessment and Preparation Course that will push me to do something new. I plan to get my bachelor’s in social work at Metro-State University and include courses in professional writing as well.”
He goes further to say,” I then plan to go for my masters in clinical social work at Minnesota State University.”
It’s a 180-degree change in direction from three years ago when he was in a maze of addiction.
“Through my time in recovery and my experiences at Minneapolis College, I have come closer to my more authentic self than I ever could have imagined,” he said. “I am so excited for the rest of my journey.”