What are the top challenges that you faced when reentering? My challenges when reentering were finding meaningful and stable employment, locating a support group for formerly incarcerated individuals, and facing my fear of the unknown.
What resources have you found most helpful for reentering? Word of mouth has been my best resource. I’ve discovered it’s easier to land a good paying job if you know someone that will speak on your behalf. I obtained several degrees while incarcerated to ensure that I would be employable.
Did you have a mentor or a role model? My sister Cheryl is my mentor and role model. No matter what comes her way, she continues to press forward. She strives to be a good steward by helping others in some capacity. Each time I’ve lost a job due to my background, she would encourage me with thoughtful words.
What drives your passion and makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning? Knowing that God is always with me helps me to get up and face each new day. I know there will be trials on some days but my faith carries me through. I’m grateful to be able to wake up to a new day and make my own decisions.
Why do you participate in the Reentry Advocacy Project? I participate in RAP because we have a common goal to make a difference for those returning to society. I am among like minded individuals that are inspiring, ambitious, and nonjudgmental. We understand all too well the challenges we face daily and are here for support. Everyone has a voice which can be heard at RAP.
What words of wisdom do you have for others leaving incarceration? Words of wisdom? Take time to find out who you are and set obtainable goals. Don’t feel pressured to conquer every task in one day. When doors close because of your background don’t give up. Keep pushing forward until the right door opens to an array of opportunities. Stay in your process. It will come to pass at the right time.
What accomplishments are you most proud of? I’m most proud of receiving my double Masters in Professional and Substance Abuse Counseling and also being granted my 501c 3 status to open a Transitional Home for women in Travis County.
What do you identify as having made a difference for you in your success? Remaining humble attributed to my success. Each time I lost a job because of my criminal history I didn’t give up on myself. I would pray more, ask God for strength, and move forward. I can’t dwell on the bump in the road.
Three words that describe you:
Thankful, Honest, Humble
What are the top challenges that you faced when reentering?
Finding stable employment that was decent paying and accessing affordable housing.
What resources have you found most helpful for reentering?
My family and God have been my number one resources; without them I don’t know where I would be today.
Did you have a mentor or a role model?
My grandmother has been my role model during the good and bad times.
What drives your passion and makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning?
God’s blessing of waking up to see another day and the love of my family drives me to press forward every day.
Why do you participate in the Reentry Advocacy Project?
The main reason I participate is because I can be an inspiration to others. Not only that, but I’m able to connect and communicate with people who have been down the same road I’ve traveled on. It’s a group where you are not judged or looked down on. It is somewhere that you always feel welcome and at peace among like-minded people. With my knowledge of the legal field as a Paralegal, I know I can bring my fair share to the group. This is also a moment where I can be a voice and a leader in my community. I was once part of the problem but now I can be part of the solution to make a change.
What words of wisdom do you have for others leaving incarceration?
Stay humble and find a support group that is willing to mentor and guide you in the right direction. Next, be willing to take any job starting off and build up some good work experience. Finally, go to school, learn a trade, and get educated. Stay away from all the negative vibes and never give up.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
A few of the accomplishments I’m proud of are being trouble free from the legal system for 10 years now, I’m most proud of my Paralegal degree that I received in 2014, and having the opportunity to have been a part of the Texas Civil Rights Project.
What do you identify as having made a difference for you in your success?
One of the things I would have to say is having patience and surrounding myself with good people. Staying motivated during the hard times and being willing to want to change for the best. Most of all my family played a big role in my success. Staying positive is the number one thing over all, other than that having self-confidence. Last, I would have to say for me it was being passionate about what I wanted out of life and giving it my blood, sweat, and tears.