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By J. Smith

For Vivian Nixon, it took going to prison to realize how bad things in her community were, and how much help was needed from people like her. She is now pursuing a Master’s Degree in Theology after spending three years in prison for a non-violent offence, but the jail time helped her find where she was needed most: College and Community Fellowship in New York, an organization that helps female ex-inmates successfully reintegrate into society by enhancing their educational and economic prospects, The Grio reports.

Once in prison, Nixon says she “met women who could barely read and write and that had an impact on me. It sent me into a period of intense self-introspection and I thought ‘Look at all the opportunities I had, and all my parents tried to do for me. For a year I was consumed with guilt. After that, I decided that my role should be to have an impact on the lives of others while I was there.” She began holding literacy classes and tutoring prisoners who wanted to earn a GED, The Grio says.

This presents immense opportunity for others like Nixon to flip their incarceration experiences into post-prison endeavors that are both needed in the community and potentially career-building. Nixon finished her college education upon release from jail, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services Administration, and now works to provide financial counseling to ex-convicts. Her six “must-do financial moves” aim to ease their economic burdens and help them survive during the trying process of finding a job with a criminal record.

Hopefully Nixon’s efforts will both better equip former inmates as they readjust to society and inspire more entrepreneurial efforts by others with her background.

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