What started as a personal interest in addiction turned into a lasting educational pursuit for Tanya Line.
Initially, Line thought she might go into advertising and spent a year-and-a-half at the University of Minnesota after high school. She was energized by the Twin Cities and its diversity but realized she wasn’t sure about her chosen field. She “loved being on campus but didn’t love being in school.”
So she quit, and soon after she met her husband, the couple moved to North Carolina, then on to New York City, where she enrolled at the City University of New York. But when she became pregnant, she put her education on hold, and she and her husband moved to Lexington, KY, to raise their children.
At the same time, a person close to her was battling a substance abuse problem, so she and her family moved again, back to Minnesota.
A Focused Path
Still touched by the effects of substance use in her family, Line decided to finish her degree so she could become an addictions counselor. She worked with her undergraduate adviser, Karolyn Redoute, to figure out how to take her existing credits and apply them to the Inter-College Program, where she was able to create her own degree in integrated behavioral health.
It wasn’t easy. "I'm a high achiever,” says Line. “When I started back at the U, I inherited my old GPA, and every semester I had to fill out an academic probation form, and that put a chip on my shoulder. I had to work extra hard to not have to fill out that form."
Which she did: Line managed to complete the Addiction Studies Certificate (and became a licensed alcohol and drug counselor), the Applied Business Certificate, and her undergraduate degree concurrently. "It turns out I am an academic,” she says.
“I didn't picture myself in academia, but I really love it. These are my people."
With a clean academic slate, Line immediately entered the Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) program. Meanwhile, she maintained a part-time position at a clinic in St. Cloud and began taking on additional responsibilities at the Minnesota Center for Chemical and Mental Health (MNCAMH).
This past fall, Line became a full-time staff member at MNCAMH. She is now a clinical trainer and research associate, training clinicians and presenting at conferences across the country. She will also be teaching a class in the fall of 2016.
A Deeper Dive
"I always pictured myself owning some kind of business, and for a long time I wanted to open my own practice. But this research came out of nowhere and grabbed my interest.”
This research and an overall consideration of research are what continue to drive her. She explains: "We can't do precision medicine in behavioral health because the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) criteria are poorly designed. For example, there are three different kinds of schizophrenia, and when a study is done it will use all three different types—that’s not specific enough. So if we want to develop better medications, therapies, and care systems, we have to be able to better target specific symptoms and systems. In order to get at that, we have to approach research differently than we have in the past."
Her next goal is to pursue this cutting-edge thinking in a doctoral program. "There's a lot of room for growth in the field of psychology and behavioral health because of new discoveries in neuroscience and genetics. What I want to focus on in my PhD program is developing interventions within the shifting paradigm in research and utilizing new knowledge from neuroscience.”
This summer, this unexpected academic will graduate from the IBH program with a minor in Integrative Therapies and Healing… with a well-earned 4.0.
“I like to say I'm fully integrated. My vision is about more than just integrated care for behavioral health. It's about providing integrated care for all health—physical, mental, and chemical health."
On May 7, 2016, Line presented the student address at the College's commencement ceremony. She is currently on the hunt for a PhD program that will meet her high standards and unique vision.