Attended an outpatient program

Attended an outpatient program for her substance use disorder.

Icon of a person reading a book

Discovered CHW program

Fanya learned about the Community Health Worker program at Malcolm X and enrolled.


Works with the West Side Heroin/ Opioid Taskforce

Completed the CHW program and found work as the Taskforce's director.

Fanya Burford-Berry’s entire City Colleges journey centers around paying it forward.

At the time the ordained pastor decided to return to school, she was on disability and in an intensive outpatient program for an alcohol addiction. She was looking at the Austin Voice newspaper and saw an ad for the Community Health Worker program at Malcolm X College with a focus on opioid-impacted families.

Fanya loves learning and had been wanting to go back to school. She did her outpatient work in the morning and figured this would give her something to do at night.

“I’m dealing with my own substance use disorder,” she said. “I thought this would be a good way to understand substance use disorder, opioid-impacted families, and how we can support them.”

Fanya was attracted to the fact that the Community Health Worker program offered students grants that paid for their books and tuition. If she went on to an apprenticeship, she’d receive an additional grant. She enrolled and the program proved to be a good fit.

“I absolutely enjoyed the classes and my peers,” Fanya said. “It gave me another view and a better understanding of public health and showed me community health workers get people connected to the health services they need.”

After completing an apprenticeship at the West Side Heroin/ Opioid Taskforce, she started as a community health worker. She taught community members in high-drug traffic areas how to administer Narcan. From there, she moved into a coordinator role, and she now serves as the Taskforce’s director.

Fanya’s overall goals include changing the way communities view substance use disorders so they’re treated like any other diagnosis. Eventually, she wants to work herself out of a job by reducing the number of fatalities and overdoses from substance use.

For now, Fanya is keeping her connections with all her communities strong, including Malcolm X. She’s already returned to Malcolm X to teach new community health worker students about Narcan.

“Malcolm X poured into me, and now I can give back. The relationship with Malcolm X is so important. They’re not a school that forgets you when you graduate. They stay connected,” Fanya said.