Candid Conversation with PATHS Graduate Rashele Lomax

How long were you incarcerated?

I did 9 years on an 11-year sentence for fraud.

Tell us about your transition.

I was released three and a half months ago and reflected on the contrasting support systems I had on my previous release from prison and this recent one. The disparity was stark. Following my initial release, I was left to my own devices. My friends provided a ride to drop me off with my family, and from there, I navigated the challenges of life as an ex-convict independently. However, my most recent release was a distinct experience, thanks to the Televerde Foundation. They played a pivotal role in easing my reintegration into society, covered a multitude of aspects, and equipped me with a clear understanding of what lay ahead. The encouragement I received from the women in the program was nothing short of exceptional. Contrary to my previous acquaintances, these women actively strive to make positive choices and invest in my success. This has also instilled in me a sense of responsibility and I am now determined to not disappoint them.

Reintegrating into society comes with its own set of learning curves, particularly when it involves grasping the essence of healthy relationships. The period of solitude that followed my release was challenging, yet I recognized the importance of embracing one’s own company and finding solace in it. I managed to confront it with resilience.

What did the Televerde Foundation PATHS programs do for you?

Personally, I realized the importance of significant interpersonal growth. My understanding deepened through my roles as both a participant and a facilitator. Before joining the Televerde Foundation, I had not fully grasped the extent to which I needed to refine my skills in healthy communication and setting boundaries. However, my immersion in these themes during the program spurred a genuine fascination. This eventually culminated in the development and delivery of a boundary-setting workshop for the Televerde Foundation PATHS participants. Integrating these boundaries into my life has been transformative, enabling me to make informed decisions and welcome individuals who contribute positively to my personal growth and progress.

What are you working on today?

I am an operations specialist at the Televerde Foundation, primarily engaged in the intricacies of salesforce systems administration services. I oversee the comprehensive database of the foundation and spearhead the generation of analytical insights and reports for most of the foundation’s initiatives. Additionally, I am responsible for overseeing the enrollment process of women on various platforms, monitoring their progress, and preparing necessary reports as per requirements. Collaborating closely with the Director of Operations, I contribute to the development of standardized operating procedures and the enhancement of operational efficiency within the organization.

My journey to this role has been shaped by various experiences within Televerde, wherein I explored several positions before finding my niche. The opportunity to undergo training in Salesforce proved to be pivotal, leading me to transition from managing the front-end operations to my current responsibilities.

What do you wish more people knew about incarcerated women?

I wish people knew how incredibly intelligent and hardworking we are. I once worked for an organization that did not know my history and when they heard, they could not believe that someone like me could be so hardworking and intelligent. Witnessing the astonishment on their faces felt like a slap in the face, highlighting the pervasive prejudice against individuals who have experienced incarceration, despite their capabilities. Through my involvement in the Televerde Foundation PATHS program, I have witnessed numerous women enter with self-doubt, believing themselves to be lacking in intellect, only to witness their transformation over time. As they gradually reshape their self-perception, their confidence grows, leading to positive life-altering changes. I hope these resilient women continue to recognize their worth and potential, regardless of past experiences.

What does your life look like in the future?

In just three and a half months, I have ticked off a bunch of my early goals! I am headed back to school for my bachelor’s degree, and I am visualizing myself owning my own house in 5 years. Oh, and there is no stopping me—I am aiming for that master’s degree and MBA while I ride the tech wave in a top tech service company. Making six figures would not be a bad idea! Thanks to the formidable crew at Televerde Foundation, I feel like I can conquer the world. They have my back and their trust and support have pushed me to go for what I want.

What advice do you have for incarcerated women?

My advice to them is to take advantage of any and every program that they can. Programs like the ones Televerde Foundation offers can help them save for the future, learn skills that are in demand, give them a sense of purpose, and break the cycle that often gets worse after prison. Life can throw some wild curveballs, but with the support I got from the foundation, my transition was smooth sailing. Now, my life is filled with beauty, and I do not feel like I am living the life of someone who has been in prison. More incarcerated women can have a transition as smooth as mine and enjoy a better life if they are willing to commit to programs like these.