Name: Reginald D. Smith, but everyone calls me Reggie.
What are three words that describe you? Grateful, Motivated, Blessed.
What are the top challenges that you faced when reentering? Housing and Employment.
What resources have you found most helpful for reentering? Goodwill, DARS helped me immensely but it was the personal interactions with caring individuals who could empathize with my situation that has truly made the biggest impact on me.
Did you have a mentor or a role model? Yes, I’ve had several mentors who have come into my life just at the right point in my journey. I’m really blessed in that area. Right now my sponsor and my professors serve as mentors and Jorge, Susan Burton and Glenn E. Martin at JustLeadership are all people that I identify as role models.
What drives your passion and makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning? I’m excited to learn new ways to work across systems an bring about positive change inside and out of institutions. I also seek to develop new pathways to success for returning citizens through education and social enterprises. Whether the change comes through programs, policy or legislation, I want to have a seat at the table and lend my voice and perspectives to that change.
Why do you participate in the XOffenders Council? The Council gives me an opportunity to network and work with other high achieving and engaged formerly incarcerated individuals as we strive to create a better tomorrow for others impacted by incarceration. Ultimately, I want to enhance the opportunities and quality of life for as many people as I can
What words of wisdom do you have for others leaving incarceration? “If it is to be, it begins with you.” I haven’t gotten this far by sitting on my hands, even though the formerly incarcerated face huge challenges great opportunities can also be found if you really look for them.
What accomplishments are you most proud of? Ten years of sobriety, rebuilding my relationship with family and friends, getting accepted to The University of Texas School of Social Work and having the privilege to participate on the XOffenders Council with some truly outstanding peers.
What do you identify as having made a difference for you in your success? Programs, schools and agencies that had personnel (e.g., teachers, counselors, and mentors) that really cared and helped me reach my goals. Everyday that I walk on the UT campus it give me hope that this is my opportunity to be all that I can be.