Once a Patient, Now a Counselor

For Jasmin Dzaferovic, becoming an alcohol and substance abuse counselor was a calling. He lives with PTSD and had other medical issue. Now, his passion to help others fuels his career.

The path that led Jasmin Dzaferovic to SUNY Brockport has been neither conventional nor easy. Jasmin was born in Zenica, Bosnia and shortly after his birth was moved to a city called Prijedor to be raised by his grandparents. He attended school in Prijedor where he focused in science, and graduated in 1984. After his graduation he began working in a paper mill close to his home, but was called to serve a mandatory term in the Yugoslav National Army in 1985.

After serving in the army for one year, Jasmin returned home to Prijedor and began working once again. Jasmin’s life seemed to be back to normal for a while, until the Bosnian War began in 1992. In May of 1992, he was uprooted from his home and forced into Omarska, a Bosnian death camp. This camp was one of many that existed to aid the Bosnian Serb Army in committing the largest case of genocide since the Holocaust.

Jasmin was moved from one concentration camp to the next for nearly a year before being sent back to Prijedor, where the local Red Cross facilitated his transport to a refugee camp in Croatia.

Because he had clearly sustained much psychological and physical trauma from being held in the concentration camps, he was granted permission from the United Nations to seek asylum in America. He arrived in Rochester in 1993, where he knew no one and did not know how to speak English.

With help from Catholic Family Center of Rochester and Westside Adult Learning Center, Jasmin adjusted to the American way of life, learned English, and enrolled at Monroe Community College’s (MCC) Radiology Technician program. He achieved high grades, but soon he was forced to drop out.

Jasmin suffered from many Post Traumatic Stress Disorder related health issues, and soon turned to alcohol as a way to help him forget the horrors of what he had endured. His alcoholism led to him to drop out of college, and he struggled with alcoholism for many years. But, he credits his own experience with alcoholism, and the treatment and counseling he received at Unity Hospital, as the reasons he decided to pursue a career in substance abuse counseling.

After graduating from his recovery program and working for two years as a peer recovery volunteer at Unity, Jasmin decided to go back to school. He chose to come to Brockport because of high recommendations from his fellow MCC classmates.

Jasmin enrolled in Brockport’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Studies program in the Department of Healthcare Studies. Once in the program, he excelled. He credits much of his success to assistance from Healthcare Studies professors Gary Metz, MS, MPA, CASAC, MAC and Jessica Sniatecki, PhD, CRC, who stated that Jasmin demonstrated a strong aptitude for and commitment to a career in substance abuse counseling from the beginning of his studies at Brockport. His professors also said that Jasmin’s willingness to share his wealth of life experiences makes him a great resource for his peers in the department, and will make him an asset to the substance abuse counseling field.

Currently, Jasmin is working on an internship with Strong Recovery Chemical Dependency at the University of Rochester Medical Center. At this internship he is working with patients alongside the hospital staff, and says he is thrilled to be applying the skills and knowledge he has learned at Brockport in a real-world setting.

After graduating, Jasmin hopes to continue on to the counseling graduate program here at Brockport, and he says that he will remember the supportive and encouraging faculty that he has worked with at the College for years to come.

July 21, 2022