William Feather, the Mendocino College Foundation Directors and Trustees Scholarship was a validation of his journey from addiction and despair to sobriety, education and hope.
Born and raised in the Round Valley-Covelo area, Feather is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes. During his teens, Feather's life deteriorated into the nightmare of chemical dependency and alcoholism. In early 2005 he became the father of young William Walter Feather, who tragically passed away in early 2008 due to complications from spinal meningitis.
"When my son died, I wanted to die too," he says. He went for treatment at that time, and he credits the clinical team who worked with him for inspiring him to turn his life around, and for giving him hope that it was possible.
"I had always worked," says Feather, "even when I was an addict and an alcoholic, but during treatment, I realized I could do work that was meaningful to me." He decided to make it his life's work to help other people as he had been helped. He plans to earn an Associate of Science (AS) degree in Alcohol and Other Drugs Studies (AOD), with the goal of becoming a substance abuse counselor for recovering alcoholics and addicts.
"I would like to help prevent unnecessary deaths among Native people," he says. "Too many lives are lost due to alcoholism and drug addiction."
A full time student at Mendocino College since 2010, while also working full time, Feather plans to earn a certificate in AOD first, which will allow him to start working in his chosen field while he completes the requirements for the AS degree. He plans to transfer to Humboldt State University (HSU) in 2014 to earn a degree in social work. "HSU has an online degree program that will allow me to get my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Social Work while living and working here," he says.
Feather says he decided to attend Mendocino College (MC) because he had friends who went through the AOD program at MC who got jobs in the field. With a leap of faith, and just some change in his pockets, he moved from Covelo to Ukiah and started classes at MC.
He says there were two special people who helped him through the scary first days of college. "Darletta Fulwilder, administrative assistant in the counseling office, explained the requirements, calmed my fears, and provided support day in and day out," he says. "Professor Dan Jenkins was the first person who told me that in spite of my background, my dream is possible. It was a done deal when he told me that," says Feather, smiling.
Feather's biggest challenge as a college student is managing his time. "I work full-time and go to school full-time," he says, "and I find that I get better grades with that schedule. When I treat my time as if it is precious, I am less likely to procrastinate."
Feather believes many people would be surprised to know that he is a strong supporter of the 2nd amendment: the right of the people to bear arms. He would like to become certified law enforcement armorer, and federally licensed dealer of firearms. He dreams of someday becoming a certified range master and organizing a Tribal Police Firearms' Olympics team to compete against State, Federal, and local law enforcement agencies in competitive shooting.
When time permits, he enjoys target practice at the Ukiah Gun Club, as well as watching car races, and playing video games.
Mendocino College Success Story
Date of Interview: July, 2012
Story written by Lynda Myers