Chatfield Alumna Experiences Big Success
April 6, 2017
In 2003, Deanna Hoskins was laid off from her job, and as a single mother, was unsure of her future. She was a convicted felon and knew that her job options were limited. She had always wanted to go back to college but says she never had the courage. She was unsure if she would be able to make it in a campus environment after being out of high school for so many years.
“Then one of the teachers at the daycare where I took my children told me about Chatfield College,” said Deanna. “She had gone there and had nothing but good things to say about it, so I thought ‘now is the time,’ and I went for a visit.”
From the moment she walked into the building, she felt right at home. “It reminded me of the small classroom feel of the Catholic School I went to as a kid,” she said. “It wasn’t intimidating at all!”
Deanna enrolled as a full-time student, and immersed herself in classes. Even when she got called back to her job, she worked out her schedule with her boss so that she was able to work full-time while still attending classes full-time. “I wasn’t willing to quit,” she said.
After graduating from Chatfield in 2005, she enrolled at Mt. St. Joseph University to focus on a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. “I knew I wanted to work in Social Services. I knew I wanted to focus on corrections and substance abuse so I had crafted all of my classes to help me break the barriers I may face as a convicted felon trying to re-enter the job force.”
Deanna’s strategy worked, and she found herself interviewing with the Indiana Department of Corrections for a job as a case manager. They were impressed with her ideas on re-entry and hired her in spite of her felony.
“That’s when I recognized God’s will, as opposed to my will,” said Deanna. “He had a bigger plan for me than I ever thought possible.”
As soon as she graduated from Mt. St. Joseph University, she moved her family to Indiana and began her career in Criminal Justice. In seven months, she was promoted to unit manager and found herself training her colleagues on re-entry. She was recognized by the State of Indiana for her work with the Access to Recovery program. She earned a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice through the on-line program at the University of Cincinnati and moved back to Ohio to work for Hamilton County as the Director of Re-Entry, an executive position that she never thought possible as a convicted felon.
“We changed employment policy in Hamilton County and in the state of Ohio,” said Deanna. “We made it possible for felons to avoid a useless job search so that they are only applying for jobs that accept felony backgrounds.”
It wasn’t long before her work with the states of Indiana and Ohio became noticed on the federal level. She was invited to be part of a federal panel on Re-Entry in New York City. Soon after, she was notified of a position with the United States Department of Justice as the Senior Policy Advisor for Corrections and Re-entry. She applied, was hired, and moved to Washington D.C.
“My integration into D.C. has been a fantastic experience,” said Deanna. “Right now, I live in a condo on Pennsylvania Avenue and I am thinking about buying a house in Virginia overlooking the Potomac River.”
Sometimes, she says, she cannot believe it. She says she would never have imagined herself in a position like this back in 2003. “I am so glad that I didn’t allow my fear of going to college prevent me from getting an education,” she said. “I would never have had the chance to experience any of this if I had allowed fear to step in.”
In the end, that is what her advice is to anyone who may be thinking about going back to school, regardless of circumstance: “Don’t let fear get in your way. Don’t short change yourself. Go to college, work hard, study hard. It will all pay off in the end. It took six years of hard work to get my education, but I’ve been reaping the benefits for the last 11 years. It’s definitely worth it.”
Deanna recently joined the Chatfield College Board of Trustees and says she is looking forward to working with her alma mater. “I’ve encountered many of the same challenges that current students experience at Chatfield. I am pleased to be in a position to instill hope in students and impact policy and procedures.” She will be the speaker for Chatfield’s 2017 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 13 at 10:00 am on the St. Martin campus.