HHP Alumni Spotlight - Jessica Holton

Jessica Holton

Class of: ’03

Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

“I relocated to Greenville to earn my MSW after earning my bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and I have been learning, growing and evolving ever since that two-day drive east on I-10.

“To me, attending East Carolina University represents transformation and development. I strive to be the change that I want to see in our community and the helping professions by having the courage and humility to be a leader; by giving back to the university and my profession with time, energy or donations; and by meeting others where they are as they move through their journey to wellness,” Holton said.

Holton is a clinical social worker in private practice since 2008, which gives her the freedom to work with a variety of associations and clients. Among Holton’s leadership roles, she is currently the associate clinical director for the Eastern Carolina Critical Incident Stress Management Association, vice president of Addiction Professionals of North Carolina and Region V Representative for National Committee on Nominations and Leadership Identification for the National Association of Social Workers.  She has published more than two dozen articles in journals, magazines and professional newsletters, and authored a six-hour home study curriculum.

As a mental health professional, she has supported dozens of post-9/11 veterans and their partners with the Wounded Warrior Project’s Project Odysseys and volunteers with as a Good Grief Camp group leader with the Tragedy Assistance Program. After Hurricane Matthew, she provided disaster responder support/relief to staff and volunteers of Animal Services of Pitt County and founded a local pet loss and grief support group. She also provides care to clients who are un- or underinsured with hundreds of hours of pro/low bono sessions.

Her dedication has brought recognition: Holton was named the 2019 Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers, North Carolina chapter. She received a 2018 “40 Under 40” leadership award from ECU’s Division of Student Affairs, the School of Social Work’s Rising Star alumni award in 2012 and the 2005 Community Service Award from the Wilson Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

“My advice? Embrace challenge, disruption and change. Change is unavoidable and discomfort promotes healthy growth. Take care of yourself – eat well, be physically active, get enough sleep, use healthy coping skills to manage stress. Learn new things. Connect with others. Take time to be grateful for how far you’ve come. When we are well and living fulfilled lives, we are better able to notice and act on professional and personal opportunities,” she said.

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