“On the day I graduated nursing school – I might get a little teary-eyed – but I will never forget coming home from the school and calling my mom and telling her I passed the final. I’m done. I’m actually going to be able to buy my kids a home. I’m actually going to be able to afford to move my kids out of the ‘hood.
“When I was in school I had to move into a very bad neighborhood in order to pay for tuition. And then to be told two months later I was denied a state license to work as a nurse because of my criminal background … it was just devastating.
“I’m a single mom and I worked the whole way through. I worked full time and went to school part time while I completed all my credits. So I worked full time, ran a nonprofit organization in Decatur full time, raised three kids by myself because my fiancé was killed and then was told it wasn’t good enough.
“I just want to go to work as a nurse, take care of my kids and get off of government assistance. That’s it.
“I’m so adamant about that that I walked away from Section 8 [housing]. After I graduated and was told that I couldn’t practice, I went back to work at a second job to move my kids out of that area. Two weeks ago a kid was shot on the block up from where I lived.
“I told them for so many years: “As soon as I get out of school things are going to be different.” My nine-year-old didn’t have any idea of my criminal history and I had to sit down with him and talk to him about that. Because of all this. He didn’t understand. “Why can’t you be a nurse?”
“Those are all things that the legislators don’t think about. They don’t think about the woman who committed a crime when she was 19 and has three kids now that have never been off of food stamps, have never been off of government assistance.
“It’s seems like they don’t want her to move ahead. It’s forced impoverishment.
“You should never give up on trying to move forward. You should never accept being in poverty because officials feel like you shouldn’t be able to move forward.”
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