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Developing Systems to Support Post-Incarcerated Women Who Suffer From Mental Illness to Re-Integrate into Society

Patricia Zimmerman

As an NCU Kick-Starter Grant recipient, Patricia Zimmerman’s success came on the heels of some of the most challenging life circumstances. A former inmate of 17 years, Zimmerman had been imprisoned in three of New York’s toughest prisons for women inmates.

“When I was released from prison I knew that I had been given a gift and opportunity. I spent every day incarcerated helping women like myself who were incapacitated mentally, behaviorally, developmentally and even physically,” explained Zimmerman.

Recognizing the critical need, she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology while in prison, has earned two Master’s degrees and is currently pursuing her Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology degree at NCU. Zimmerman juggles school with working evenings as a grill cook and co-managing a grassroots organization called “Changing the CD” which uses the musical metaphor to empower individuals to change their life circumstances.

“I am Psychology. I know it, I live it, I breathe it,” said Zimmerman. “I came into NCU with a focus. I am not new to doctoral learning. I had my dissertation topic when I applied at NCU.” She chose NCU because she liked the University’s one-to-one learning model.

Her dream is to establish a crisis center with the $20,000 NCU Kick-Starter grant she’ll receive upon graduation to provide support for released female offenders who still suffer and help them successfully reintegrate into society.