Growing up in Queens Village, Helen, was a part of a family that uplifted knowledge and education. Helen’s mother, a schoolteacher, encouraged Helen and her siblings to enroll in higher education. Upon entering college, Helen fell victim to many of the pressures young adults face on campus – being introduced to drugs, Helen rarely attended classes, falling deeper into drug abuse. Helen lost jobs – sold drugs to support her habit, and caught her first crime at 18. A life of recidivism, homeless shelters, drug programs, and losing her children to the foster system ensued – until her early 40’s. At 41, Helen found recovery and began to repair her life.

In 2019, Helen realized that to be heard, validated, and affect change – she needed higher education. Helen completed the John Jay College Navigator Certification and afterwards, entered St. Francis College through the Post-Prison program, and she hasn’t looked back! Helen has maintained being on the Dean’s List every semester, her GPA remaining between 3.875 to 4.0. Helen is the first Post-Prison student to be invited to the Honors class. Helen is also a Justice-in-Education Scholar at Columbia University, attending both schools and is on track for her doctorate in Criminology concentrating on convict criminology. With the aid of our Education Fund, Helen intends to sub-specialize in the traumatization of Women and girls and pursue her goals in prison reform, examining punitive vs. rehabilitative correctional systems and, hopefully, to research international systems such as the Norwegian and Swedish, where such rehabilitative methodologies have been implemented.

“My career goal is to affect change, to inform and reform criminal justice policies and practices. I will not stop my educational journey until I have ascended to that elevation.” – Helen Skipper

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