Ashley Medina, a senior at California State University Channel Islands (CI) and current Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) student, has used her experience with adversity to aid in correctional education advocacy as well as community development. Beginning in 2013, Ashley continues to participate in a juvenile justice service-learning program in Ventura County, where she facilitates a co-learning environment with youth offenders. Through her own funding attempts, she has traveled to Uganda in 2014 and 2015 to volunteer and offer courses to incarcerated men and women. She has laid witness to how education can lead to a sense of hope and empowerment for others. Ashley's higher education journey is heavily intertwined with service, stemming from underserved student populations and widening to incarceration of local and global communities. She continues to look for connections between art, education and community development as modes to decrease the global issue of recidivism.
I have always held a curiosity for the world around me. Throughout my personal life and academic career, I continuously find myself drawn to causes and places beyond myself, in search for a deeper understanding of the world. Since 2013, I have actively been involved in juvenile justice academic efforts by promoting co-learning environments, and access to educational pathways. In doing so, I have positioned myself to think critically about pedagogy as it pertains to correctional environments, in addition to the national issue of mass incarceration. I spent the summers of 2014 and 2015 in the East African country of Uganda, replicating these co-learning communities with male and female inmates, through the focus of creative writing, entrepreneurship, communication, and empowerment. Through local and global action, I have navigated between national and international correctional rehabilitative practices, prison educational structures, and the effects of cyclical incarceration on communities. These experiences have allowed me to witness the toxicities of broken communities, poverty, and the struggle of societal reintegration. As a restorative justice advocate, I seek to continue to examine and widen the conversation and action towards global incarceration and recidivism, through the lens of education and community development.