Reentry Programs Open Educational Doors: Felicia’s Story

Reentry Programs Open Educational Doors: Felicia’s Story


Personally and professionally, education opens endless doors. At Fortune, we strive to give each participant in our reentry programs learning paths tailored for their success in the community. Each day, with the support of our Education program staff, participant Felicia Allen is opening more opportunities to a brighter future.

“…I just love school. I don’t mind coming here,” she says, “…I like the atmosphere. They don’t treat me any kind of way, like I’m an outcast.”


A sense of belonging was missing from previous programs Felicia joined, but at Fortune, we make it a primary goal. Our teachers, many of whom have justice involvement experience, take their time—each lesson has the potential to transform lives.

“I love my teachers because when I don’t understand something and just freeze, and I get frustrated and they see it in me, then they [say] ‘OK Felicia, I’m going to take my time. What do you not understand?’ They dedicate their time, they put everything else on freeze, and they explain it to me.”


Felicia specifically credits Education Program Director Brittany Smith and Teacher Jim Hattan for being beacons of light. They make challenging subjects like math easier to grasp. With their help, she is steps closer to obtaining her High School Equivalency diploma.

With a life hindered by substance use, leading to a year spent in a court-mandated program, Felicia knows that a diploma is her ticket to obtaining job security, something that she has yet to experience. Though she is fortunate to have systems of support on the side lines, her path to success is ultimately one she has to endure alone:

“Things are going to happen, situations are going to happen, but I have to stay strong,” she says, “Ain’t nobody going to do it for me. And I’m not getting any younger.”


But now over three years sober, independence and success are within reach. Felicia dreams of cultivating her love of people or animals into a career. She also is prepared for a slow climb up the professional ladder: “I know I want a job. Even if I have to go [somewhere that I don’t prefer]. Whatever job that takes me—because that’s like the first door that will open a lot of other doors.”

Felicia Allen, participant at The Fortune Society and reentry programs success story

Peering into new doors, she also wants to encourage younger generations that better things are on the other side-and that Fortune is there to help them, too.

“These types of programs are what’s going to keep our kids levelled. At the end of the day, programs like this are what’s going to keep our youngsters looking at what’s real, at [how life] really is.”


Today, how life really is for Felicia is promising. Regardless of her past, we’re committed to her success just as much as she is, and she knows that.

“…once I got here, when I got in the classroom, I was cool. I knew that [Fortune] was where I needed to be all along. If only I would have come here sooner, I probably would have already had my [High School Equivalency diploma. But I’m here now, and that’s all that matters.”


Felicia Allen, participant at The Fortune Society and reentry programs success story

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*Article by David Leon Morgan

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