Adeline is working toward her dream of becoming a Criminal Defense advocate and creating a non-profit organization for long-term Inmates and is motivated by being a role model for her son. She currently lives in Wisconsin and has been working with her Success Coach since May 2020
Q. Tell us about your educational journey: Where did it begin for you? Why did you decide to go to college?
I started at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside the fall semester after graduating high school. My original plan was to be a teacher, I majored in sociology and history. After one semester at Parkside, they announced they were shutting down the education department. I continued to take classes for both of those majors while waiting to hear a time frame as to when the teacher education department would reopen to students.
We were told it would be several years before the department re-opened, so I decided to add Criminal Justice as a minor hoping that would make me more marketable and allow more opportunities for employment in the future. I was bounced around from advisor to advisor and I felt like I was never receiving the guidance I needed to navigate college.
I would meet once a semester with an advisor and discuss what classes I needed and I would go about my way. I got very frustrated towards the end of my first attempt at my bachelor’s degree. I felt like I had no idea what was going on or what I needed to do, and felt like I had no one to turn to.
Q . When did things start to become challenging?
Life stepped in, I found myself pregnant with my oldest son and facing homelessness due to issues with my apartment complex. Because of the circumstances, I decided to take the fall semester off and come back in the spring. Life stepped in again and the spring turned into a five-year break with many challenges affecting myself, my children, and my family. The thought of going back to school felt like an impossible task and five years later, with vehicle issues, medical issues as well as my sons being quarantined due to COVID symptoms, It was never the right timing for us.
I received an email from Stephanie in the Spring and I spoke with my husband about the possibility of returning to College. I had the time, due to being laid off because of the pandemic however, the thought of going back to school especially not knowing how much I had left to complete and the uncertainty surrounding my sons’ schedules felt overwhelming, but we took a leap and thought “it can’t hurt to hear what she has to say.”
Q . Goals for the future?
I have not decided what I am going to do with my degree quite yet. Ideally, I’d like to open a nonprofit organization for people that have DCFS in their lives and cannot afford lawyers or a nonprofit that provides reading material to longer-term inmates. The road to those dreams is long and I think law school may be in my future. I want to make a difference in the lives of people that may have been taken advantage of by the system because they do not have the means to a defense. I want to find a job that gives me life balance to be a good employee and still be a good Mom. I want to buy a house, get a puppy, and plant a lilac bush.
Q. How has working with a Success Coach affected your life?
Stephanie was a huge part of my support system this semester along with my husband. The support I felt from a total stranger was encouraging and heartwarming. She made me feel like I can do this! She answered my questions and when I expressed to her how alone I felt the first time I attended Parkside assured me that I would not be doing this alone. She would be here every step of the way and it was absolutely what I needed.
Both Stephanie and my husband helped keep me grounded when the stress became too overwhelming or when things started to feel too heavy. My husband would find coverage for his shifts and come home so that I could take a nap because I was always exhausted. The two of them made sure that I was practicing self-caring during this time because the needs of my family tend to override my needs.
My Mother was another huge part of my support system by watching my boys when I was in class or picking them up from school so that my husband could still make a living. I wholeheartedly believe if Stephanie had been with me my first time at Parkside that I wouldn’t have left. Every student should have someone like her to turn to.
Q. What is your biggest motivation?
My boys are motivators and at this moment in time earning my degree does not seem like a huge deal to them, but I am hoping someday they will look back and this will be a moment in their lives that help shape them.
Q. What advice do you have for stopped out students who are considering going back to school?
I think the most important thing I can share with someone is that when you feel like life has knocked you down, keep getting back up. My journey has taken much longer than I had anticipated, but I will not stop fighting to get to where I want to be. The worst days of your life may not be far off from your best days so always keep fighting.