The epitome of perseverance, Angelica Zucchiatti (BHS ’20) had challenges in completing her degree few students ever have to face.
After a motorcycle crash in 2012, Zucchiatti was in a coma for three months and, when she emerged, she had to relearn how to do many things, including reading. Even now, her sense of time is compromised due to her brain injury. Her recovery from the crash proved to be a turning point in her life, eventually leading her toward the decision to return to school.
“I was myself addicted and I ended up homeless for a time,” she says. “I wanted to be able to do something to help people in my position. I started off at the college taking child and youth care. But I ended up switching programs because I didn’t want to focus only on kids. I wanted to have more of a broad base and a deeper understanding.”
She switched programs and entered the University of Lethbridge’s Addictions Counselling program, starting an intense and disciplined course of study.
“I would go to school for six to eight hours and stay for an extra hour to work with instructors who offered to show me different tricks on how to learn the material,” she says. “Then I went to an occupational therapist after school and spend another two hours going over my school work. When I got home, my husband read through it all so he understood it and then he’d ask me questions in the morning so I could remember the material. It was a big, tedious task but I loved the challenge.”
Zucchiatti stuck with it, learning the theories and the systems to treat people with addictions and then putting it into practice during her practicums.
“When I went to my first practicums, it was the clients who showed me everything,” she says. “Considering the whole client and listening to the whole client, that’s the part I was missing from my schooling. The practicums really helped bring it to life for me.
“Hearing from the clients, most of the time all they wanted was someone to acknowledge they’re human. I asked them what they hoped for and one girl told me it was her dream to have a job at the Bargain Shop. How can we not make something that simple come true for someone? I think we can, so now that’s my goal with my education is to slowly teach people how they can get to their goals.”
During a community development course with Dr. James Sanders, Zucchiatti got an idea for a business project. She credits Jason Solowoniuk with helping her see beyond a client’s problems and to focus on solutions. Her business idea incorporated what she learned in the classroom and one of her instructors, Sandy Witdouck, provided additional support.
Since completing her degree, Zucchiatti and her husband have established a solution-focused counselling business called the Sacred Sounds Health Center, which is located in Barons. The centre has one functioning aquaponic greenhouse, with a second one currently under construction. Clients learn to work with an aquaponic system, how to grow food and prepare simple meals. They also receive counselling at the centre. After clients expressed interest in learning a trade, Zucchiatti and her husband added a trades component to their programming. They recently acquired a building in Barons to serve as headquarters for the Sacred Sounds Healing Centre.
“I loved my experience at the U of L and I am so excited to see just how much I am going to accomplish with it,” she says. “For me, it was a springboard. I entered post-secondary thinking I was going to do one thing and four years later, I’m doing something completely different but I feel it’s exactly where I need to be.”