Prison Race - Patricia Duran

Uploaded by calpolypomona on 13.07.2011

Dr. Reese:My name is Renford Reese I am a professor of the Political Science
department at Cal Poly Pomona and director is the Colorful Flags Program and
also the Founder of the Reintegration Academy at Cal Poly Pomona. We're here
today to have a candid conversation with Patricia Duran the person who was
responsible for our career development module for the Reintegration Academy.
Patricia, glad to have you with us.Patricia:Thank you Doctor Reese it's an honor
to be here.Dr. Reese:Ok tell me about the Reintegration Academy experience for
you? What were you thinking about before you actually came in to the program and
what were your first experiences like dealing with these participants?
Patricia:Well initially when I received at call from you about doing at career
with a whole series of workshops which is what we do all the time so that's
pretty natural so my approach to that was providing services as a career
counselor and understanding the population that what we were doing that for. But
then as I am also a student here at Cal Poly Pomona I am in the MPA Program and
actually one of your students and when that became more of an opportunity to do
that as a research topic as a class so then my focus shifted a little bit where
I really had to think because there was going to be responsibilities on my part
as a student to provide some scholarships at the end of the program. So I
started changing my attitudes about that and really thinking in the modules that
we created for the program making sure they were relevant for that population
not necessarily knowing their back ground but knowing some history about
parolees 18- 25 and typically what the crimes could be like because really know
a lot about the parolees other than what you provided about the program and the
students. So I adjust a little bit thinking making sure that it would be
relevant but in the first meeting knowing I had to do some assessments to see
where their at to see how far to push them or how I had to adjust it or tailor
it. I do have to say though the first meeting day I was extremely nervous. I
have worked with those populations before. I used to teach courses for the city
for the welfare to work and sometimes we'd have students in the program that
were parolees in those situation so it wasn't like I was not familiar with them
but it still made me nervous. Will I be able to connect with them will I be able
to relate to them because connecting them is important because they're not going
to receive your message if they don't respect you or they don't feel like you
respect them as well. I think that was the part that I was the most nervous to
because every environment is different. I work with college students mostly
freshman through seniors and some alumni but most of those are recent alumni and
then I have some transfers that are season students. But this is a different
population and so their level how they socially engage how they communicate the
norms that are appropriate is very very different. So I think those things I was
very nervous will I be too stuffy for them will I seem too aloof for them. So I
really really worried about that. That whole night I was so nervous what do I
wear will it be too professional in the sense that a suit. Do I dress down do I
dress in the middle. So which seemed like silly things but for me as a career
counselor my role is to connect with these students to establish trust. So this
way the can engage and they can learn meaningfully. So after that first day I
felt that there was a good connection and I didn't feel like it went poorly.
Cause you can tell when you haven't connected with your audience and I felt like
there was some connection in there, which was optimistic with me cause I had
more comfort and everything else I did for the remained of the program.
Dr. Reese:Ok so lets talk about the curriculum and the philosophy as it went
on. So what were you trying to do increasingly what was your over all
philosophy.Patricia:Well incure development in what we do and this I think
applies to any population in regardless to their environment their grade level
or academically where they're at and so I really know academically where some of
these individuals these young men were and there was a population of them who
had not graduated from high school. There was actually a really large population
of them who actually had some community college. A few of them had actually
completed their associates' degree. So for me career development starts with the
first part of it them really getting to know who they are. Knowing what they're
good at knowing their personality what environments they're more successful in
and then looking what are their interests. Because sometimes if you know that it
empowers you to look for things that are really going to compliment your natural
abilities and talents you're going to be happier you're going to stay longer in
whatever it is that you do. And so it wasn't just focusing on jobs it was also
focusing on education because part of the goals of the program was getting them
matriculated into a community college system or university depending wherever
they're at. So helping them to know what would be the right major for them what
is the right career path. So then after that giving them those basic skills of
making sure your interviewing skills are good. That you know how to communicate
effectively appropriately because some of the jobs that they had they either are
going to be looking for similar jobs or they'll be challenging themselves to
look for other jobs that might require a different skill set and the sort of
culture of how you interview or how you prepare your resume is different for
them.Dr. Reese:So lets step back and talk about personality inventory in value
task that you are trying to that you did apply to the students.
Patricia:So the personally we applied with is the MBTI which is the Myer-Briggs
temperament inventory and that was actually a very fun activity for the
students. What I loved about this population versus what I get from college
students especially as they're in their sophomore year or junior year is that
the definitely their senior year is that they definitely very engaging very open
and were willing to really share personal information of how they felt they
personally responded to the different results of the assessment. Here I am
talking about them which is a very sensitive thing you don't want to point
fingers and say this is how you are it was more turning around and embracing who
they are. And also explaining why for instance they might not be as successful
in certain areas. Whether it's communication or work extra. So what it does for
students and what it did for them is it validated who they are but it also
helped to explain where they have challenges. So we would relate it to their
relationships or to their family to their friends or even to their working
environment and those ah ha moments okay this makes sense and hopefully that
empowers them then because part of it is teaching them the tools. It's good to
learn who you are. I always tell them it's like David Covey principles the
"seven habits for highly effective people." One of them is 'seek first to
understand'. You need to understand yourself first to be able to be better
communicating with others. And for them they had that moment they were able to
connect and understand that and also know where they're strong in anything else
that they do in the areas that they need to develop as well. So that was a
really successful moment. The interest as well for the students looking at their
interest as we use the strong interest inventory which is based on John
Holland's work and looking at their interests as they relate to hobbies. For
some people think I want to do this career I am really good at Math I am really
good at Science I want to do that but that might be a personal interest or I am
really good at fixing things I want to be an engineer. Engineering isn't always
necessarily with tinkering with your hands there's a lot of other layers
involved in that. So helping them for themselves understanding what their
interests which of these would complement a job and they would be successful and
which of these might be more hobbies or areas at which they should develop as
well. And also again that validates the things that they have done. Because I
think for them as well what I noticed is that sometimes there were criticisms
about the way they were and the way they weren't or the things that they did or
the things that they didn't do. So for this it gave this that language to be
able to comfortably articulate with confidence there's nothing wrong with me
this is just how I operate and to be more successful in communicating with you
this is what I need.Dr. Reese:So tell me about session three. Once you have
actually immersed yourself and the participants into your modules what starts to
happen after about session three?Patricia:With the students or with the modules?
Dr. Reese:With the modules participants in the Reintegration Academy.
Patricia:With the students there definitely was a level of trust. I was part of
family.It's interesting a lot of things we are talking about whether it was
rules of how the edict for interviewing or edict for different kinds of working
environments or trying to explain things to them it was interesting. They would
use they're own personal experiences and many times they'd use the experiences
being in prison. It's like when you're in the joint this is how you'd do it. It
was interesting that they were making those personal connections in order to go
to a deeper level and understand it. But I felt like we really bonded and I felt
like there was a comfort level. It was challenging because I had to always had
to maintain respect because sometimes you have to feel to express themselves in
a way that is comfortable for them but not to cross those boundaries ok those
jokes are a little bit inappropriate. So it was a different kind of environment
that I would have with a traditional college at university so I thought that
there was trust. And I think as they got more comfortable they were more
comfortable to vocalize if they weren't happy with something that I did as well
which is good. For me it's good if you feel there is some miscommunication we
had to vocalize that. I think with the curriculum I realize that with the
students did better with the hands on with the in person with the dialogue. But
with the assignments that's where it was a challenge for me. So getting them to
engage and connect in class was not a problem. And I find that it is a problem
with my traditional college students they're either on their laptops or on their
cell phones it's even difficult to get them to adhere to certain rules. I could
tell these students from the Reintegration Academy no cell phones and they
respected that. I would tell that to college students and they wouldn't respect
that so it was really interesting there was a different level of respect yet
there was a different level of the way we communicated where someone would say,
yeah I don't know if that is appropriate. There was never anything inappropriate
but just the comfort level was different. Assignments didn't work as effective
where as for my traditional college students they do follow through with their
assignments. But it is also how they've more been socialized or programmed
because that's the rap they've been going. So the course dialogue was good but
the assignments were a little bit challenging.Dr. Reese:Ok. So lets talk about
the session that you had on mastering the interviewing.Patricia:
The interview. Actually the interview process we did a lot of prep for that so
we had lecture where we talked about interviewing and then we actually did mock
interview sessions. We had, actually you helped coordinating a different way in
doing this. We had some volunteers with the program and put them in separate
rooms so they were really practicing. So I was just really impressed because it
was the trainer training them. So I trained them so these were the things they
were aware of so they were critiquing each other so it was a peer critique first
as the professionals like myself and the volunteers critiquing them. And they
really did an amazing job at supporting themselves. The rules were to give
constructive criticism but not criticism. So at the event they dressed up and
again my comparison is because it is the brunt of what I do is with college
students. It's interesting because they'll take it to a higher level. So if you
ask them to dress up it is hit and miss for these gentlemen all of them were
dressed up. Some of them were in suits some of them were in their dress shirts
with their ties and they looked sharp they looked really good. Their hair was
brushed they were just beautifully quaffed. In that evening as confident these
guys come off because they all come in there--you know--I know who I am don't
mess with me. But you still saw some of those insecurities when they're in
there. That nervousness I don't know what to say. I think sometimes also for
them they don't have anything for me. And for me this isn't about that OK if
your able to find an opportunity that's good but this is practice for you. It's
practicing for you talking to strangers it's practicing you knowing how to
approach someone and shake their hand. Engage in getting to know them
introducing yourself giving you a little summary of you. So it's really giving
them those social skills and helping them understand that so sometimes when they
didn't want to do that it pushed them to just go do that just go talk to them
and ask them these questions. And for some of them in any class room there's
always some students that just say I don't need this. They'll still do the work
but Yeah, I'm good I don't need this. So they'll do a little bit and then
they'll just kinda step aside but for the brunt of them they really were
engaging. The employers were really impressed on how they handled themselves
because they were going around just observing and talking to some of the
employers. They were really impressed on how professional they were and how they
came with their resumes and how they introduced themselves shook their hand and
just really started engaging and started conversation. So it was really very
good to see how they took what they've learned and they applied it. And for some
they were really really nervous and not sure if I could do this because if I was
doing labor work if it was construction or this is a whole different world for
them. I think it also gave them that confidence and pride that hey-I did good.
Dr. Reese:So what was your overall experience?Patricia:For the students?
Dr. Reese:For the entire Reintegration Program.Patricia:I think for them more
than anything it was someone believing in them someone trusting them someone
respecting that they did have talents or helping them recognize those talents
and abilities. I think they go through the motions but I think they is a moment
for them that they might not verbalize because it is a different culture and how
they carry themselves. But failing that - here you have this university
professors you have all these professionals and industries who are coming and
taking the time to spend time with them either to do a lecture of lead them in a
session. There is something powerful about that.Whether they expressed that or
not but the fact that the majority of the students consistently came and they'd
be here for 4-5 hours. That's a huge commitment. College students don't even
have to do that their longest class it maybe 3 hours. But these guys were
sometime here for 5 hours. I think they really enjoyed their experience you
could see after awhile they felt like I am one of the students. They could use
the gym they could eat in the cafeteria here on campus. For the experience for
them I felt like they had more pride and more confidence especially those who
didn't have that definitely empowered them in knowledge so that they want to
transition into a Community College they knew how to do that. They understood
some of the fundamentals of what's the difference between Associates Degree a
Bachelors Degree. Understanding the university culture what's that like what the
expectations are and also understand for themselves academically where they're
strong and where they still needed to grow as well. I think the part that's
really challenging and is frustrating is that is society and American society
does one of the questions that I dreaded getting from the students was what do I
put on my application. Which you're supposed to check the box have you been
convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor but knowing that automatically they're
going to be stereo typed and no one's going to trust them and no one is going to
give them an opportunity. I think for me that was the hardest thing because that
question did come up and honestly it was hard for me to answer that question
because it's true what they're saying that we do label them and won't give them
a second chance, which then contributes to recidivism. You have to earn money
you have to be able to support your families and a lot of the research and the
studies show that-that support, these programs, which we've lost funding for
them-even in prisons where we used to have programs to earn your GED or to earn
college credit, those have been eliminated. Any type of reintegration programs
or parolee programs like these-because there are programs like this, budgets for
those have been eliminated but these are the things they need to help them to be
supported.They go back to their same communities, they're not changing
environments,they're just out going back to the same things and if it's nothing
there to support them. What other options do they have other than "well I need
to make money" and you figure out a way of doing it.Dr. Reese:
So what was the banquet experience like for you?Patricia:The banquet
experience-it was kinda like their prom. They all got dressed up and
it was in-we have a beautiful facility on campus and we have conferences
services on campus and it was in one of the conference rooms, one of the halls,
or banquet rooms. And, there was food and their families were there-but it
really was, maybe not prom but I guess for them it was their graduation
ceremony. You can see the pride they had in what is that they did. Because for
some of these students maybe they didn't graduate from high school, maybe they
haven't had any kind of events where they had to set a goal, they had to work
hard to achieve that goal, and they had to-to achieve that goal. So, this was
the end of achieving that goal. So you graduated, you set a goal, you stuck to
it, you did the work, and now you're being recognized for that. You're
recognized by peers that, that are, or by, I don't want to say superiors, but by
faculty, or by professionals, or by staff that had supported you through that
process and are now here to honor you and to celebrate that you have had success
and to say that hey we're still here for whatever else that you need, you just
to call-so I think for them, there was a great deal of pride for them?
Dr. Reese:And for the families.Patricia:And then for their families as well.
And, I don't know if there were limits as far as how many they could bring but
there were some people that brought-the table sat 10 and they needed two
tables. They brought their families and families' family-everyone was
there--brothers, uncles, cousins, cousins' cousins. And then there were some
that didn't have anyone there but they became such a connected and tight group
of men that those that were alone they brought them into their family unit so
they wouldn't be alone. So it was really neat to see that. And just the parents
and the families, the brothers, and the wives and the girlfriends and the kids
of these men-just seeing the excitement, the pride,and the hope for these guys.
Dr. Reese:Okay, I want to thank you for coming in. I definitely want to thank
you for being an engaged and an integral part of the Reintegration Academy. I
think,without a doubt, that was the most successful component of this program
and I think you did a superb, a wonderful job, and I can't thank you enough for
what you did for those 20 participants in this program and I think they'll be
grateful to you for the rest of their lives. Thank you for coming to the studio.