Every year, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Kuskokwim Campus awards a part-time student of the year award. The 2020 recipient is Chelsea Hoffman of Bethel.
Hoffman is busy raising two daughters, working part time, managing sobriety, starting a business, and taking classes.
“If I could do it, anybody can do it,” she said.
Hoffman says that going back to school was one of the best things she’s done, and getting sober allowed her to take that step.
“After I got sober, my head was clear,” Hoffman described. “It just happened so easily.”
Hoffman credits her academic success to the flexibility afforded to her by online classes and to the support from her family and friends to help take care of her daughters, ages 10 and two.
Hoffman is pursuing an Associates of Arts in human services. That interest began when she was a student at Bethel Regional High School and stepped into the office of Meghan Crow, the lead social worker at the Lower Kuskokwim School District.
“I went in kind of feeling down, emotionally kind of confused, somewhat,” Hoffman remembered. “And I left her office with the sense of calm and peace. And the second I walked out, I knew instantly what I wanted to do. I wanted to go into social work.”
Fifteen years later, after becoming a mom, becoming addicted to narcotics, and then becoming sober, Hoffman hopes to gain similar skills to help others.
“I now want to be a drug and alcohol counselor so I can give back to my community that has given me so much during a time that I needed it the most,” she said.
To earn a living, Hoffman has worked for various cleaning services and is now opening her own cleaning business, called Clean Sweep. This spring she received a Best In The West small business grant as seed money. Her business, which cleans both residential and businesses spaces, began years ago when she went to work on a mess close to home.
“I started out cleaning my bachelor uncle’s home. So, hey, If I can do that, I can do anything now,” she said, laughing.
The coronavirus pandemic has made it tough to get some cleaning supplies, but unlike others, Hoffman does have one supply that some in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta may have a tough time finding.
“Clorox is definitely a hot necessity right now, but we’ve got a stockpile. We’re good to go,” she said.
Hoffman’s plans to open Clean Sweep this summer. She taking her final exams of the semester this week.