Emily Rice Published

W.Va. Peer Recovery Support Specialist Wins National Award

Two men are seen sitting in a room talking to one another. One wears a grey sweatsuit with the hood up around his head while the other, with his back to the camera, wears a pink shirt and appears to be encouraging the man in grey.
A peer recovery support specialist is often a person with lived experience with substance use disorder and can help coach someone through their own recovery by relating to their stumbling blocks.
Photographee.eu/Adobe Stock

A peer recovery support specialist at a Marshall-based recovery program has won the Cornerstone Award. 

The award honors an individual or organization that has gone above and beyond to support students in recovery.

Aaron Blankenship is a West Virginia Collegiate Recovery Network (WVCRN) team member and recovery support specialist at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.

“Through his unwavering dedication and tireless efforts, Aaron Blankenship exemplifies the essence of the ARHE Cornerstone Award for Student Support,” said Dr. Pamela Alderman, president of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. “His commitment to going above and beyond in supporting students in recovery transforms lives and serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for our community. We celebrate Aaron’s profound impact and recognize him as a cornerstone of support for those navigating the recovery journey.”

The WVCRN is housed within the Marshall University Research Corporation with support from the Marshall University Center of Excellence for Recovery.

Blankenship will accept his award at the National Collegiate Recovery Conference in San Diego, California this summer.

According to one of his peers, Hattie Newsome, student success coordinator for Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, Blankenship’s own recovery gave him the empathy and drive to work passionately with students and the recovery community.

“He inspires those in recovery by showing them they can achieve sobriety, goals and their dreams can come true,” she said.