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A NOVA Success Story

Theresa had never had a brush with the law until, that is, financial troubles brought on by divorce enticed her to illegally siphon money from her employer. She was dismissed as the company’s comptroller, convicted of grand theft, and sentenced to three years in prison. Upon being released, Theresa worked to move on with her life. The transition, however, was far from easy. Even with extensive experience in accounting and information technology, Theresa had no formal degree in the field, a requirement for many positions. “I wasn’t getting my foot in the door because I had no certifications,” she said. Her criminal background was another liability. Theresa decided the best way to move beyond her past was to earn professional certifications in the computer field.

Theresa’s parole agent saw potential in Theresa and referred her to the California New Start Program, a partnership between NOVA and the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation that provided parolees with employment and training services. New Start paid to send Theresa to a program that provided training in information technology, medical, and business to students from all walks of life. In less than a year, she had earned two certifications: one in database administration, the other in systems administration. As a result of her computer training and volunteer work, Theresa landed a full-time job with a local software company. Without this assistance, she believes she’d still be jobless, destitute, and likely, homeless. New Start, Theresa said, has “made me more self-sufficient. I feel like I’m part of the community again.”