Addictions & Mental Health student Maria Checchia sitting in chair

Maria Checchia,’20, visited Alvernia’s campus on the advice of a friend who described how much she loved the campus and environment. “When I stepped on campus, I was extremely nervous. But the people and the atmosphere made me feel at ease. It was like stepping into a second home. From there, no other school had met that same feeling of comfort.”


Checchia was born, raised and attended high school in Northeast Philadelphia. Always knowing she wanted to help others, the Franciscan mission of Alvernia supplemented that need and supported her program choice of Behavioral Health.  An interest in family/child services led to an introductory course in social work, beginning the pursuit of an academic career filled with mission, service and internships.


An internship at Caron Treatment Center, one of the most prestigious, well-respected inpatient addictions treatment centers in the country, gave her a firsthand look at the impact one can have working in the addictions and mental health treatment field. “The counselor asked the women to speak out loud about the consequences they faced as a result of addiction. It was very emotional. You can learn about addiction in books, but when you hear someone’s story, it’s not so black and white.” Checchia’s internship was a part of the Women’s Continuum unit at Caron, with females aged 15 to 35. “I knew I wanted to help with women and children and my internship solidified that for me. It also allowed me to think of working with teen girls as well!”


“The Franciscan mission became a huge part of my academic career. I’ve gone on two mission trips”. Checchia’s experiences included serving the homeless in New Jersey and assisting a church group with improvements to an elementary school in Jamaica. “Being face to face with the people you’re serving makes you realize ‘I’m doing this for a good reason.’ There are people out here that need our help. They’re not that different from us.”


Checchia’s future plans include pursuing a Master’s in Social Work to complete her goal to become a counselor working in the field of mental health and addiction.


Maria Checchia
Class of 2020

Addictions & Mental Health Treatment

Success Stories