If he hadn’t made a life-changing choice to attend Forsyth Tech, Jonathan Thull said his life might have turned out much differently. Now, a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor- Supervisor with a graduate certificate in play therapy for children and adolescents, Thull has traveled the world, even living in Israel during the 2006 Israel–Hezbollah War.
Thull said from where he started, he couldn’t imagine he would be where he is now.
“I wasn’t interested in high school and had difficulty focusing and concentrating. These issues were exacerbated by my ADHD and Learning disability and I might have placed somewhere on the Autism spectrum,” said Thull. “I dropped out of high school in 10th grade. As a high school dropout with a rebellious nature, I was easily drawn into some risky behavior. And, when I came right up to the edge of falling into serious trouble, that was my wake-up call.”
Shortly after, he enrolled in the Adult High School at Forsyth Tech. Yet, still battling some personal issues, he became frustrated and dropped out of school again with little direction and purpose in life.
He then realized he needed a high school certificate to pursue further education and help the world through the helping profession. Upon completion of his high school equivalency, he found his way to Forsyth Tech again.
“That’s when I fell in love with learning.” said Thull, “I found, what would be the best professor in my college career, Dr. James Fortuna, who was pivotal in guiding my education. He challenged me, influenced me and lit a fire in me. In my failure to thrive in my teenage years, Forsyth Tech gave me a softer place to land. Reflecting on my past, Forsyth Tech was the catalyst I needed to succeed.”
Getting the individualized support, he needed, Thull was able to take night classes at Forsyth Tech while working which helped him feel empowered and gave him more control over his life.
Earning his transfer associate degree in three years, Thull went on to the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology. He then continued his studies there, earning his master’s degree in conflict resolution. Thull was very interested in the conflict between Israel and Palestine and wanted to travel there.
“I went to Israel to volunteer doing peace work. Working in a youth commune was a profound experience for me,” said Thull. “When war broke out with Lebanon, I was living in the north of Israel near the border of Syria. Shortly after the war began, I started studying at Haifa University but the program moved students to Jerusalem for safety. But he said, “Life just kept going there, the alarms would sound to take cover and when the bombing finished, another alarm would sound to alert an all clear.” That’s when Thull said his experience during war and witnessing protracted conflict led him back to the states to delve deeper into psychology beyond conflict resolution.
Thull earned his second master’s degree in counseling from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a concentration in play therapy. He currently has his own counseling practice in Charlotte but has now opened a branch in Winston-Salem and is moving back to be closer to his family.
“The pandemic, for me had a silver-lining in a way,” said Thull. “I hadn’t worked in tele-counseling before and now that’s the counseling method I want to pursue as I start my counseling practice in the Triad and across North Carolina. With some of my teenage clients, for example, a computer screen is very comfortable for them since they spend so much time online or on games. I want to help them flourish and by using technology I enter into their world and help them solve problems! Knowing what I went through and my own disabilities, I can relate to them and they more easily relate to me. ”
Thull also hopes to one day to teach and share his story that education is different for everyone. Thull shares, “It works best when we discover what inspires us to learn. And that path for me began at Forsyth Technical Community College.”