Jokotade Shonibare is a woman of faith and action. Founder of a women’s ministry, Sister to Sister, and a licensed marriage and family therapist, she has always been motivated by the desire to help people.
Ten years ago, Shonibare was considering going back to school but wasn’t fully committed to it. “I had a master’s in counseling psychology and was already practicing, and many of my colleagues were discouraging me.”
However, she had been in touch with friends and family in Nigeria, where she is from, who were voicing concern about the rise of alcohol abuse. Like in many countries, people often gather in the evenings and drink together, and for some, it was becoming more than just a social ritual.
“I began to think that I could help eventually go back home and use what I’ve learned to start a formal program for addressing this problem,” she says. “This is what prompted me.”
Meanwhile, Shonibare received a postcard in the mail introducing the new Master of Professional Studies in Addictions Counseling program and realized this was the perfect fit.
“(Going back to school) is worth putting in my energy and sacrificing the time.”
Answering the Call
Shonibare’s strong Christian faith has always played a role in her career goals. While she obtained an undergraduate degree in business administration, the social sciences kept calling to her. “Back home at that time, studying sociology and psychology weren’t recognized as options. They didn’t seem like viable career paths.”
“I have to have a greater purpose, not just do something for selfish means.”
Today, she works full-time at CIGNA as a case manager specialist and manages a light caseload at her private practice to ensure she has enough time to go to classes and complete her assignments. She is finishing her coursework this fall and will start an internship at NuWay in the spring.
Shonibare has not only made the transition from business to mental health, she inspires women all over the world through her ministry work. “I have to have a greater purpose, not just do something for selfish means. I don’t do things unless there is a cause behind it.”
Part of her larger plan after she graduates is to partner with churches in Nigeria to create awareness about substance abuse. “The desire is there to address it,” she says. But without established resources and support, it can be difficult to tackle. “Structure is needed.”
The ADDC program will give her the tools to develop a prevention and treatment program, as well as instruct personnel on how to implement it, even if she isn’t physically present. She plans to assess “what’s on the ground” first, and see where the greatest need lies.
With her formal education and training and experience motivating people to action, Shonibare will be well prepared to mobilize her connections and engage the community. “I want to see what we can put together.”
Advice for Future Students
“You’ve got to understand yourself, know how you work. Understand your capacity and capabilities. It’s not a race; this is a choice. If you choose to do this, do it well.”