It may come as surprise to many of you to learn that, after four years, today is my last day as a staff member on the Students for Sensible Drug Policy team.
As I sit here at my desk in the SSDP National HQ in Washington DC, I find myself at a loss for what to type. If I wrote everything I would like to say, If I shared everything I would like to share, If I were able to capture every moment of inspiration, love, and profundity, If I were able to convey all of the ways in which this organization has helped to shape me into the man I have become these past four years, I would have to write an entire novel!
In lieu of that, I would like to take a few moments to pay tribute to the amazing team of people I have had the honor of working with, and to thank each of you, the students, alumni, and allies of this incredible organization we all love, for changing my life for the better in every way imaginable. I can say without a doubt that being part of SSDP as a student, Board member, and staff member has been the most important set of formative experiences of my life.
After I was arrested for marijuana possession 9 years ago, I reached a critical juncture in my life. That year, I lost my job, wrecked my car, lost my housing, and was struggling to afford tuition as I was paying my way through college for the second time. When I was at my lowest point, I found SSDP. It changed my life. I discovered a community of people whom I could talk to about my drug arrest and my drug use without fear of stigma or embarrassment. I met other people who had also grown up in poverty and could relate and empathize with the numerous ways in which that had affected my life well into adulthood. I had the opportunity to travel and attend conferences where I met the smartest people I had ever met and hear what they were doing to end the war on drugs. And they were actually doing it, as opposed to simply talking about it. It was inspiring.
A few years later, I was fortunate enough to be hired by SSDP and was given the precious gift and immense responsibility of working directly with our student members. I was continually blown away by how intelligent, caring, empathetic, and determined they were. It pushed me to do more. It inspired me to stretch myself beyond anything I thought I was capable of personally and professionally. I had the opportunity to travel around the country, speak to crowds of hundreds and even thousands of people, and play a role in helping youth activists change drug policies from the dorm to the United Nations and everything in between. I will cherish these memories for the rest of my life. I forged the most meaningful professional relationships of my life with my SSDP coworkers. I felt loved, supported, heard, and celebrated in ways which I never expected. I am so grateful for each and every one of my teammates here on staff because with their love, I gained what is effectively a second family.
And, finally, I had the opportunity to expand my mind in ways I never dreamed, both intellectually and experientially. All of the smartest people I know are SSDPers. All of the strongest people I know are SSDPers. The most loving, open, honest, compassionate people I know are SSDPers. I learned more about myself and about this world we are working so hard to change by being part of this organization and by exploring the inner workings of my mind with the aid and guidance of friends (all SSDPers).
Thank you all for the many memories. I look forward to remaining involved as a member of the Alumni Association and I’ll see you at at the SSDP2019 conference and beyond!
Scott Cecil ‘10
This blog is part of a series of alumni-authored posts during #SSDPalumni Week, our annual Alumni Association membership drive. Become a member today by 1) Joining the Sensible Society and 2) submitting a short info form.