Sean Thompson-El is a 49-year old man who has spent almost 30 years in prison. He was released four years ago and he had a five-year plan that he put into action. He wanted to obtain his Master’s Degree and step up to the plate as the Patriarch of his family.
In 1992, while incarcerated, Sean obtained his associate’s degree in Liberal Arts through Mineral Area College. In 2013, within two years of his release, he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Studies, with a major in Criminal Justice and a minor is Social Science, through Roosevelt University.
At the present he is preparing to begin his second year in a Master’s Degree Program at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He is pursuing Criminology Law and Justice.
This man is my hero. He is a true example of transformation and drive to fulfill purpose in life. I asked Sean to share his thoughts about incarceration and the reintegration process and this is what he said:
I have spent literally over half of my life in state and federal prison. I have been under the supervision of the courts via probation /parole or incarceration since I was 14 yrs. old. I have a 35-year relationship with the Criminal justice system; therefore, I consider myself well versed in criminal justice issues and their impact on people.
In reference to the obstacles that Returning Citizens face upon re-entry…. my first piece of advice is to FOCUS. It’s easy to get distracted in free society because everything is moving fast and we want immediate gratification. BE PATIENT! Life doesn’t unfold at our pace… things unfold in due season…. Set REALISTIC goals and earnestly strive to pursue them… If you don’t have any skills ACQUIRE some!!!!! I realize school isn’t for everyone but in this age of technology and global competition a marketable skill is a must. There are a many short-term training programs where a man or woman can learn job skills in one-to-two years. Developing a skill set is critical and many of these programs are free. Some trades can be obtained through federal, student aid.
We are not incarcerated any longer and we have to do for SELF. I assure you that a job won’t fall from the heavens, nor will someone knock on your door asking you if you want a job. As they say, “Finding a job is a full time job.” Primarily all I’m saying is MAN/WOMAN up and be a responsible adult and handle your business. Recognize your potential. That simply means realize the potential you have to succeed. I understand how hard it is. Each of us has our story of trauma and tragedy… let’s create some stories of TRIUMPH! Trust me if I can, you can.