After becoming a convicted felon, I had to step outside of the norm and overcome the stereotype of convicted felons. Through my own personal experience I will show you how I proved society wrong. In the year 1998, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This was the person who had raised me, provided for me and taught me to be the woman that I am, there was no way I could allow her be placed into a long- term care facility so I had to take care of her. Prior to her illness setting in at a chronic stage I was the family member on whom she depended. I would visit her and make sure she had everything that she needed to live comfortably.
I conducted all of her personal banking for her and even though I was not on her account, the tellers at the bank knew me and would give me no problem making deposit or withdrawals. When her primary physician stated she could no longer live alone my entire family wanted to place her in a home. I could not, would not allow this. I took her home with me and took care of her to the best of my ability. She had monthly income coming in, and that helped out with food and personal items for her as well as respite care.
My family members are all out for themselves, and who ever get hurt in the process is just that “hurt. During the process of placing her in the nursing home my aunt found out that I was receiving her checks and cashing them. She had the local police department to file criminal charges against me of theft, receiving stolen property and forgery. I never thought that my family would do something so cruel to me. This taught me that there is a life learning experience in everything that you do and you must be prepared for whatever comes your way whether good or bad. My grandmother and placed her in the city’s worst nursing home and my aunt became her legal guardian.
My aunt gained complete control of all her financial estate Because my grandmother was no longer in her right state of mind, I had no proof that I had her permission for many years to sign and cash her checks for her, and from there I was convicted of a fifth degree felony, with charges of forgery and theft. My life was forever changed. My career goals at the time were to pursue my degree in nursing but I could no longer seek this, one with a felony conviction cannot practice as a nurse. I was scared, for me and my family. How would I take care of them? How would I explain to them that mommy can’t keep a job because of my background?
I was determined not to let this be a barrier for me. Merely just an obstacle I had to overcome. I had to come up with a life plan that would help me overcome the negative stereotype of “a nobody. ” I had to learn a trade and excel beyond anyone else so that my resume would at least get me in the door. I had taken a data entry training class fresh out of high school, maintained a 4. 0 GPA while obtaining my certificate and taken a home health aide training course. I had paraprofessional trades that I would use to get by until I could do better. I met with people that had a positive influence on my life and consulted with them about my future.
They offered me great insight and encourage me to keep pushing until I got to the top. I did some career research on the high paying degrees and came up with Business Administration. It was tough at first, I got extremely depressed while working sixty hours a week, going to school and raising a family. But I had no choice, I had to overcome this negative thought in the back of my mind that, I, too would be a nobody. I soon gained a temporary position at a local clinic in the medical records department through a temporary service. I had to shine; I had to use this as the opportunity that I needed to get my start in business.
I observed the staff who had 10, 15, 20 years invested, and I learned from them. I learned everything that I could about medical records, ICD 9 codes and patient diagnosis. I did this by watching and observing as well as my own hands-on-training. I would work late just to learn the different process of the department. I had to be exceptionally friendly to both patients and staff alike. This wasn’t a problem because my whole life my grandmother taught me that if you are nice to people they will in return be nice to you. So therefore I was always a people person. They loved me, and I loved them more.
I had became both determined and motivated at the same time. I had received so many recognitions from the nurses, doctors and patients that my boss wanted to meet with me. After five months of working in the clinic through the temporary service, the owner of the called me into his office and offered me a position within his company. I was ecstatic! I was on my way. While still attending school to obtain my associate’s degree, I worked fulltime in the office, managing accounts, scheduling nurses, nursing assistants and physical therapist, processing payroll and doing some marketing as well.
I was gaining both, knowledge and experience. Learning happens in so many places and in so many ways, from training classes to someone else’s knowledge or your own hands on learning. I knew that I had to make the best and get the most out of every opportunity presented to me. I had to learn something from almost everything I was involved in if I want to excel. As my job title labeled me I was a staffing coordinator, but I needed and wanted more. One year had passed and I was now the office manager. The company had grown tremendously and had a gross profit of over one million dollars due to my efforts.
I now had gained some concrete experience, a great deal of knowledge, and a solid reputation in home health care industry. I was now making a decent salary, but I still needed more. I had to prove to both society and myself that even though I was a convicted felon, I could still make it to the top. I continued to grow the company, with its profits rising at an unbelievable rate and our customer satisfaction was at a first time high. After my second year, I had made it! I was promoted to administrator of the company with full control of it. I had learned; I had taught; I had advanced to the top.
I had overcome that myth that society and I for so long believed in. I can, as a convicted felon, hold a job and have a career just like anyone else. I had taught myself and pushed myself to succeed; to be the best that I could and do the best that I can in everything that I set forth to do. Four years later, the company is still growing at a tremendous pace and has three offices located both in state and out of state. I now am the regional administrator of the company, overseeing the three offices. I now know that learning is more than reading a book or listening to a lecture.
Learning is something that we do in every aspect of our lives. Everything that we do is an observation and reflection of what we have learned. We act in response to things that happen to us, and let them affect who we are and who we can be, but if we learn to act and react to our experiences and consequences from our actions and behaviors, we will observe that to be successful in life we must learn not only from the classroom but from our everyday life experiences and also others involved in our lives. Through this belief, I have altered my life from being poor and living in poverty to being successful and living comfortably.