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Devonnie O'Dell
Business Analyst & Board Member

As a Compton native, I grew up in a loving home. Being raised by my mother and grandma, I was taught the value of education and how important it is to have good etiquettes and always be respectful to others. Later as a teenager, my father would reinforce these principles by showing me why its important to learn different vocational skills and remain updated on technology so that I can always be employable.

 

Growing up, I was involved in sports, but coming up in the 80’s, I was exposed to the gang culture in my community, and like most youths, I became attracted to the fast life of the gang culture. I began my criminal thinking without forethought of the consequences of my actions and poor decision making. This led up to me spending more then my 46 years in this world incarcerated in juvenile halls, probationary camps, the California Youth Authority, and CDCR where I've spent the last 25 years serving a life sentence. Throughout this time, I maintain hopeful and have continued my journey in education to further mature myself, helping me gravitate back to the values that my mother, grandma, and father taught me.

 

Since my incarceration, I’ve worked hard to better myself, having accomplishments such as facilitating the renowned groups “Alternative to Violence” and ”Criminal and Gang member Anonymous.” Throughout the last 11 years, I’ve earned 50+ certificates from self-help courses and graduated from the entirety of the curriculum at Criminon, an international, non-profit organization that is dedicated to rehabilitation and reform for offenders. Additionally, my most recent accomplishment was completing the Paralegal Program through the Blackstone Career Institute and maintaining a GPA of 3.750 as I also currently work on obtaining my A.A. Degree with emphasis in Social Sciences. Education is important to me because degrees open doors to jobs that provide livable wages and show employment executives that I am not only skilled, but dedicated to getting the job done. I see myself as a business and every chance I get, I invest in myself so that I can grow as a person. 

 

My daily role to the peers of my environment is to motivate them to learn all that they can and show the world that we can change from who we were that got us here, to someone productive and positive with their words and actions. I hope to continue being and inspiring others to become better examples to our future generations and bring hope to those that are stuck in a rut — as I once was.