Faculty Stories: Jason Florin

Jason Florin

Program: Human Services

When Jason Florin was 17, his psychology class took a trip to the Elgin State Mental Hospital that changed his life.

"Many of the other students clustered in corners, but I found myself drawn to the clients," he said. "In particular, I spent most of the afternoon talking to a man with schizophrenia. I really connected and our interaction made an impact. In fact, virtually every aspect of my life over the last two decades has been affected by that meeting."

Florin earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a master's from Governors State University. Since graduating, he has always worked in social services, including hospitals, jails and residential treatment centers. In 2001, he started as a mental health technician and transitioned to addictions treatment. He
worked at Interventions in Woodridge for six years as an addictions counselor and coordinator of a men's residential program. He also spent three years as a case manager for the Will County Drug Court.

His first exposure to College of DuPage came long before he started teaching as an adjunct in 2007. In fact, Florin's mom was pregnant with him when she graduated from COD with her Associate in Applied Science degree in 1977. He spent two years as an undergrad at College of DuPage before transferring, and then he returned to earn his Addictions Counseling certificate, which helped him become a CADC and a professional addictions counselor.

But it's teaching that has provided Florin with the greatest satisfaction.

"Teaching combines several interests of mine – interacting with people, intellectual stimulation and the upbeat energy of campus life," he said. "In the classroom, I look to provide students with a framework for going into the field and working with clients. I want to be comfortable that any students who finish a certificate or degree in Human Services are competent enough to work with a family member of mine.

"I think of our program as empathy training. Empathy mobilizes us to take action; sympathy paralyzes us. So students need to be able to practice active empathy as professionals in human services. I try to focus on a few concepts that all students can benefit from in their careers, including principles such as 'Do no harm' and 'Seek supervision.' They are simple but effective."

Florin considers himself a poet at heart and reads Rilke, cummings, Neruda, Cervantes and many others. He also believes art and literature can be tremendously therapeutic for clients in social services. Yet some of his greatest inspiration comes from education.

"There are so many positive things happening at the school, so many great minds and ideas," he said. "I find working with the faculty at the College to be a great inspiration, and of course the students. Their energy and enthusiasm to make a difference is an endless supply of inspiration."

More about the Human Services program