Cracking the Code: My Journey into Web Development in Prison

In 2018, a life-changing pivot emerged from an unexpected encounter with a flyer. Completing the Purposeful Living Units Serve (PLUS) program had already marked a significant milestone for me. PLUS, a cognitive behavioral therapy program offered to the women at the Rockville prison in Indiana, became my first step towards understanding myself, reflecting on my past, and cultivating a mindset for change. Shortly after completing PLUS, a chance discovery sparked a new chapter of growth and learning.

The flyer I stumbled upon advertised The Last Mile, a program I initially misjudged as medical coding. When I discovered that it was, in fact, a web development program, my heart skipped a beat. Before my life took a detour, I’d found joy in building a crafting blog on WordPress and dreamed of becoming a graphic designer during high school. The Last Mile seemed like a giant step in that direction as it provides education and technology training.

Full disclosure: web development was a challenge. But, akin to the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, each struggle became a stepping stone for my progression. With its logic-driven structure and meticulous details, JavaScript transformed my thinking process. Through patience, grit, and countless trials, I began to crack the code, celebrating small victories when my solutions started to work.

Prison may not be the most conducive educational environment, yet it became my classroom. With limited access to resources and the Internet, we made do with what we had: a Learning Management System, static web pages like DevDocs, Stack Overflow, Wikipedia, and a handful of core concept books. The noise and distractions that come with prison life were sometimes overwhelming. However, when engrossed in something as captivating as web development, the commotion faded into the background, replaced by the melody of coding challenges and project wireframes.

The effort and hard work culminated in my capstone project: a coding Jeopardy game. A testament to my journey, the game reflected the logic and creativity that web development had instilled in me. The sense of accomplishment was profound, and the project’s 98% score and commendation were the icing on the cake.

My web development skills paved the way for more opportunities within prison walls. From creating a unique game for Televerde’s New Hire graduation to serving today as the company’s website specialist, web development has become an integral part of my life.

Keeping up-to-date with the latest web development trends can be challenging when disconnected from the digital world. I found my workaround through LinkedIn and the support of my colleagues, who share interesting updates and articles.

To anyone interested in pursuing web development while navigating a similar journey, I say this: embrace the challenge, persevere through the hard times, and grow with each trial. Web development is a community, not a competition. It’s an incredible opportunity that opens up numerous doors in the ever-evolving tech industry. Your path may differ, but the destination has prospects and opportunities.

I can’t wait to leverage my web development skills upon my release, and I am eager to contribute to the tech industry, continue learning, and advance my career. My journey has been a testament to resilience, adaptation, and personal growth from the transformative PLUS program to The Last Mile’s web development training and now as a web development career with Televerde. And as I forge ahead, I carry the invaluable lessons I’ve learned, eager for what lies ahead.

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