I have a criminal past that includes fighting, a burglary, and a sex offense. I make no excuses and have taken complete responsibility for my actions and their impacts. Prior to incarceration my life was chaotic and in disarray. My self-identity was at odds with my upbringing which was steeped in racism, homophobia, drug addictions, and violence. Learning to manage difficult emotions was not part of the education I received.
Emotional intelligence, stability, self-acceptance, and confidence are paramount to my transformations, all of which I learned during incarceration. Coming to terms with my gender identity has been vital to moving forward with legitimate cognitive discipline and change. Once I accepted my gender identity, I finally understood the full impact of my previous actions because I could finally think about things other than myself, I cleared the way so to speak. Amazing what a little self-acceptance can accomplish. Today, I am proud of the person I have evolved into and successful pathway I have commenced. Over a 7 year period I have enjoyed over 300 hours of counseling and 500 hours of group counseling alongside several cognitive change classes, all of which have been pivotal in reshaping my character.
I am trusted as an Executive Officer (Secretary) for Toastmasters Local 2535. I have been trusted to administrative duties for an institutional kitchen that include payroll tracking for over 150 employees, upkeep accurate employee training files, create and manage schedules spanning 4 shifts, and make sure that all areas have adequate employee coverage. I have been trusted as a Peer Facilitator, Mentor, and helped make United States history by being a part of a team who brought the nations first Pride Event sponsored by a prison. These things I do and have done with excellence and pride.
I am special because I came from nothing and now specialize in team building and overcoming challenges, my future has never looked brighter. I know exactly who I am, I know my strengths, and I know how to mitigate my weaknesses. I know how to build support networks and add strength and fortitude to them. I possess a tenacity and resiliency that has been hard-earned and my evolutionary journey is still underway, I will be a lifelong student.
I realize you are busy, have many people to think about and I thank you for taking the time to read and consider my testimony. I would be honored if you decided to get to know me more. I leave you with this, I do not believe in the word impossible, so whenever I see or hear it I think “I’m” possible instead. If I’m possible then so are you.
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Jeff aka Ruthie Utnage