INCARCERATED, SHE DARED TO LEARN
How one Recovery Scholar didn’t let anything stop her
March 3, 2020
We’re honored to feature three-time scholarship recipient Alexandria Bergeron in our monthly blog series. Alexandria is the first Ammon Recovery Scholar to be awarded a scholarship while incarcerated. Displaying persistence and grit, she started taking courses via the Distance Learning Program at Adams State University while incarcerated. Ammon Foundation believes that all individuals in recovery should have access to the education they need to transform their lives. Here, Alexandria talks about her recovery, how she feels about receiving a scholarship from Ammon Foundation and her future career goals. Enjoy!
How does it feel to be awarded this scholarship?
Being awarded the Ammon Foundation Scholarship has made me feel hopeful towards bettering myself and my future. I feel grateful there are people in this world who are willing to go above and beyond to help me.
Tell us a little bit about your life and recovery.
My addiction has caused so much pain to myself and others. It led me to overdosing, making wrong decisions, stealing and being institutionalized. I got incarcerated in May 2016 at the age of 21. It took me being sentenced to nine years in prison to have an awakening.
When I got to prison, I did not understand the meaning of recovery; to be honest, I was still using. One day, I got caught and received my first – and last – drug booking and landed in segregation for 30 days. I sat there, and realized something has to change. I said to myself, “It’s now or never. I need recovery, so I can help myself and get into treatment.”
I then enrolled myself into The Providence Center, which is a drug treatment program available via the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. It helped me tremendously. It helped me to identify some of the reasons and trauma which had led me to using alcohol and drugs. When I was 15, my mother removed me from school, abandoned me and moved to Florida. I was left to care for myself and began to numb myself by using drugs and alcohol. The next couple of years, leading up to my incarceration were very dark.
My addiction led me away from what was important – education and my own well being. Today, however, I am proud to say I have a future. Back then, I did not have the tools and resources that I have now along with the support team to help push me along. Today, I do not have to worry if I am going to die from my drug use. I learned that recovery is possible, and along the way I found myself. I am a survivor.
What are some of your education and career goals today?
My education and career goals start by getting my bachelor’s degree. Ultimately, I want to help teenagers and young adults find their passion and help them succeed. I am extremely passionate about advocating for young adults who are struggling. I would like to lower the incarceration rate so the youth does not end up like me – or even worse. My goal is to make a difference in this world for the better.
It is so important for me to pursue my education, especially in recovery. I put my sweat, tears and heart into my education and believe it will allow me to help others in their recovery, which is something I once thought was not possible. Today, after addiction has taken so much from me, I believe that no one can ever take my education from me.
What are some hurdles you encountered going to school?
The biggest hurdle in obtaining an education was financial support. Since I have gotten out of prison, I have the support of my family and father who allowed me to get a job at his work. I get paid minimum wage which is difficult to live off of and attend school. Also, I have to miss a decent amount of work for all the required parole-related appointments. I have court fines and approximately $4,000 in restitution fees still due. Without my social worker, clinician, my father and organizations like the Ammon Foundation – who have really believed in me and supported me, my dreams and a second chance at life would have never been possible.
For further information on reentry services, please visit The US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health at https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlid=116 or The National Reentry Resource Center at https://csgjusticecenter.org/nrrc.
– Alexandria Bergeron, Recovery Date: 06/08/2017, Adams State University, Sociology and Criminology Major
The Ammon Foundation believes that when individuals are holistically and strategically supported to build purposeful lives, the likelihood of them maintaining their recovery substantially increases. We provide this support via our Ammon Recovery Scholars Program. Our program goals include: removing financial barriers through financial scholarships; providing strategic support for recipients through offering personal, professional and academic support; and creating a supportive peer community committed to combating the stigma associated with addiction by promoting that recovery is possible. We are committed to giving away at least $150,000 in scholarships annually and are looking to fund education as a stepping stone to stable employment, safe housing and adequate healthcare. To find out more about our programs, or to apply for an educational scholarship, please click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.