Damon Creighton, Jr., believes in finding balance — and he hopes to help others do the same. Creighton will earn a bachelor’s in social work from Wayne State University’s School of Social Work and plans to become a therapist specializing in care for teens and adolescents.
Creighton has known for some time that he’s meant to serve. Diagnosed with epilepsy as a freshman in high school, he struggled with physical and mental health challenges for two years before seeing a therapist for the first time.
“My therapist completely changed my life. It was a total 180,” said Creighton. “Once I saw that impact, I knew that I wanted to provide that kind of help that I had benefited so greatly from to other kids.”
Having found a balance, Creighton has excelled academically and is a proven leader on campus. He was recently recognized as one of the School of Social Work’s National BSW Students of the Year for his work serving fellow students.
“Sometimes, we’re told to be strong, to push through — especially in high school or early in college,” Creighton said. “Really, though, it should be a balance of resilience and sitting back. If you don’t listen to your own needs, you’ll burn out. You can’t give unto others until you take care of yourself.”
Creighton hopes to one day work in a private practice and advocate for mental health awareness at the K-12 level through programming and resources at schools. He’ll begin a master’s program in social work at the University of Michigan this fall so that he can earn licensing and practice immediately after graduation.
“The world needs more social workers, more therapists and counselors, more mental health professionals. There’s a growing mental health need and, unfortunately, a shortage of professionals — especially working with younger populations,” he said. “And if we reach kids early and make them aware of how important their wellbeing is, we can improve their lives.”
As a student, Creighton has been active on campus, serving as a School of Social Work peer mentor and vice president of the Association of Black Social Workers. He was involved in the School of Social Work’s Disability Justice Series and was an invited panelist in a discussion about student perspectives of disability in October 2021.
Creighton also serves as vice president of The Brotherhood, a student organization founded to help African American students build community and academic, professional and personal networks. Although on hiatus because of the pandemic, Creighton said that the organization’s annual Dinner for Winners event, which brought together students and high-profile guests from various disciplines for networking and workshops, is among his proudest achievements as a student.
“The concept of justice runs through a lot of my goals, and I see it in many things at WSU, too,” he said. “Creating and building the community around The Brotherhood and then seeing graduation and retention rates among Black students significantly increase on campus at the same time — it’s special to have been part of that change.”
That same passion for supporting and building up others has been reciprocated for Creighton by his own network of friends and family, including his parents and two sisters.
“There have been people who were there for me on my good days and my bad days,” he said. “And I wouldn’t be on this path without them.”