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
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.