Phillips gives back to the organization that helped her pay for college
Alicia Phillips has come full circle at the Center for People in Need in Lincoln: First applying for the People Obtaining Prosperity Scholarship through the organization, and now working for them full time.
“I utilized this scholarship so I would not have to take out any additional loans while I was working on those credit hours,” she said. “At the time, I was a new mother and I wanted to be able to spend as much time as I could at home with my child. Since I didn’t need to worry about how I would pay my bills, I was able to put all my focus into bonding with my son and my studies.”
Born and raised in Lincoln, Phillips originally came to Southeast Community College to study Early Childhood Education. She later realized that wasn’t her passion, so she decided to take some additional Human Relations classes and transfer those to a four-year institution.
“During my time at SCC I had some amazing instructors that saw the potential in me when I couldn’t see it in myself,” she recalled. “They took the time to have real conversations with me about what I wanted to do in life and encouraged me to keep going when I wanted to quit.”She then transferred to Doane University’s Lincoln Campus where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Relations in 2019. She wanted to help people navigate social service programs with her background and experience.
“As a black woman, this field of work was particularly important to me because black families need to see people in the helping profession that look like them, can relate to them and come from similar backgrounds,” she said.
Phillips is giving back by working as the case manager for the Opening Doors community reentry program at the Center for People in Need. The program helps current and formerly incarcerated people find employment and reestablish themselves in the community. She helps them do this by working on their resumes, conducting mock interviews and providing hands-on training and educational opportunities for certain jobs.
“As someone who has many family and friends impacted by the criminal justice system, it is important for me to educate those around me about the racial and gender disparities that plague our system,” she explained. “Returning citizens have complex support needs that they have to navigate upon release. I enjoy being a resource that individuals can utilize as they transition back into the community.”
Although Phillips has only been with Opening Doors for less than a year, she said it’s one of the most fulfilling and rewarding positions she’s had. As for her future goals, she hopes to go back to school again, this time to earn a master’s degree.