Featured photo: Andi Craven walking on the Henderson County Campus of Blue Ridge Community College (Photo by Rich Keen, Marketing and Communications Department).
Marketing and Communications Dept.
Andi Craven, Coordinator for Service Careers and Human Services Technology Instructor for Blue Ridge Community College, knows firsthand the importance of the helping careers.
“I had a teacher in high school who insisted I go to college,” said Craven. “Education massively changed my life, so I want to be part of a growth process for folks.”
Craven spent the first 20 years of her career in social work. She describes human services as an offshoot of social work or an umbrella of careers. The human services technology program has three offshoots: a generalized track, a social services track, and an addiction and recovery track.
No one knows the program better than Craven, who helped build it from the ground up after pivoting to education. In the middle of 2019, Craven began to feel she had given her social work career of almost 20 years the best of her abilities and was ready for a new challenge. In reviewing her career, she most enjoyed sitting down with people new to the field and helping them process situations and find their way. A mentor encouraged Craven to meet with Blue Ridge President Dr. Laura Leatherwood about possibilities in higher education. As fate would have it, Blue Ridge was in the process of starting the Human Services Technology program and Craven joined the College in the spring of 2020. The first cohort started in Fall of 2020.
Craven treasures being an educator and her students revere her. They nominated her for the Dr. Eliza B. Graue Extra Mile award, which she won in 2023.
“I view this as a relay race. I have the baton of knowledge from two decades in this field, and I am handing it to this next generation of helpers for them to take this career to a new level and help people in new ways,” said Craven. “Human services are so important because one thing we all have in common, regardless of background, is that life brings us to our knees. All of us come to a place in life where we need help. This field is where you can go to get help to ease that suffering, to find community, to gain and increase skills to better respond when life brings you to your knees again because it will happen again.”
Craven is proud to work at Blue Ridge, an institution she says has helped the community along the lines of human services long before the creation of the program.
“Community college in particular is the intersection of social work and education. Both of those things majorly changed my life, so just being part of an institution that matches my value systems as a human being and a professional means so much to me,” she said.
Beyond those values, Craven sees the innate worth of local education.
“Henderson and Transylvania Counties are close knit communities, so to have a local institution teach local people local resources for local people in need, it’s hard to even imagine how important that is,” said Craven. “There’s a shared language, experience, and understanding. I think that people feel safer when they walk into a room and their helper not only is from here but also was trained here.”
The Human Services Technology curriculum prepares students for entry-level positions in institutions and agencies which provide social, community and educational services. Learn more about working for Blue Ridge Community College at blueridge.edu/careers.