Cheryl Sterrette

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I was raised as a very sheltered child in the suburbs without any kind of drug atmosphere. I wasn’t introduced to poverty until I was much older. I started smoking marijuana and taking pills, which escalated to me selling heroin and cocaine in the projects, which changed my entire lifestyle. I was incarcerated three times; the first two incidents were trivial but the third time I was in prison for a long stretch. For the third altercation I was held in jail for 13 months, waiting for trial. I was then sentenced for 35 years for multiple charges. I served 14 ½ years at MCIW and Patuxent institution.

In TAP I was required to do 28 days of inpatient drug detox at Tuerk House followed by 4 months of out-patient treatment. During the fourth month, with the help of Maryland New Directions, I completed computer literacy classes and learned how to fill out applications correctly and send them to job sites. After 6 months, I completed my associate’s degree in business administration and was accepted for the job as national accounts coordinator at a local trash company. After two years of working there, I decided to go back to school, where I studied one-on-one mentoring with youth and decided to make it my full-time position. TAP really helped me to be in-tune with my feelings and to understand what was really important to me.

Higher education has been my number one accomplishment so far. I’ve also learned how to work successfully with other people and be tactful when working with young adults and teenagers. I became a mentor for a lot of youth who were on their way to destruction and I have been able to deter a lot of their bad behavior. I am now part of an organization called People Change which helps young adults and those incarcerated, especially long-term prisoners who have made a change for the better, and yet have not been recognized for it.

My next goal in life is to be a program coordinator for youth that are in foster care facilities. I want to show them that there are caring people out here who want them to succeed. Also, I want to help other women entering the TAP program, which has progressed greatly since I participated in it. The TAP program is great for women who want to better themselves, there is a lot of support and I will always want to be a part of this system.

March 23, 2009

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