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HOPE mentoring benefits not only the incarcerated youth but also the undergraduates who mentor. Mentors themselves sharpen their own employability skills as they help the youth. Furthermore, according to our mentors, HOPE makes them passionate about pursuing career paths related to juvenile justice and education. 

To give an idea of how HOPE impacts the mentors, we've talked with some of those who have graduated to see where they are now. 

Abigael Schulz

Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility

I self-designed my own major for Social Justice and Inequality as well as being a part of the Business Scholars Program at Hanover College. My major was a combination of Communication, Education, Sociology and Anthropology. I graduated in May 2018. After graduation I served with the Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience for a year as the Hockey Sticks Together Foundation Director of Program Development where I conducted outreach to grow their inner-city hockey program. HOPE ignited a passion in me to serve inner-city and underserved communities because all too often these populations are becoming incarcerated. I am currently a second-year law student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois studying public interest law. I am pursuing a career in municipal government post-graduation. HOPE transformed lives inside juvenile facilities and it showed me how much a difference just one person can make in someone's life, which is what I hope my work continues to do. 



Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility,

New Castle Community Mentoring

After finishing my courses for my Masters degree in Special Education at Indiana University in May, I decided to move to Baltimore Maryland in order to pursue my passion to become a special education teacher for students in inner city communities.  After interviewing at several schools, I chose to work as a special education teacher at an alternative program within Baltimore City Public Schools. The school is focused on transitioning over-age and under-credited middle school students to high school. Most of my students have emotional behavior disabilities, and they have all been put out of their local public school due to their behavior and/or poor attendance. My work as a mentor with HOPE has provided a strong foundation where I can apply the skills that I learned working with my mentees, in order to be a positive role model for students struggling to make ends meet in their inner city neighborhoods.  HOPE is the organization that allowed me to pursue my interest in working with this population of students, and I am forever indebted to HOPE for opening the door to the first step of my long career in education.

Chryssa Athans

Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility

After graduating from Indiana University in 2016 with degrees in Psychology and Criminal Justice, I started a graduate program in Chicago furthering my education in psychology. I am currently a doctoral student studying clinical psychology at Adler University. As part of my clinical training, I was a diagnostic extern for the 19th Judicial Circuit Court at the adult probation building (Waukegan, Illinois) and juvenile detention center (Vernon Hills, Illinois). There, I evaluated both adult and juvenile offenders’ current level of functioning through interviewing and clinical assessment, provided diagnostic impressions, and identified necessary treatment recommendations. I also provided similar diagnostic services at the Illinois Youth Center (St. Charles, Illinois). After that, I was a therapy extern at the Westville Correctional Facility in Westville, Indiana where I provided therapeutic services to adult males in the Restrictive Housing Unit. Most recently, I completed an internship at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Indiana where I provided therapeutic services once again to adult male offenders in a maximum security facility. Currently, I am a full-time psychology intern at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. My work as a HOPE mentor gave me the confidence to work with incarcerated individuals of all backgrounds. It taught me that there is more than meets the eye in a population that is misjudged and misunderstood far too often. Being a HOPE mentor helped open my eyes to the importance of being a positive role model while providing support in ways that the individual may have never been exposed to previously.

Sarah Swank

HOPE Mentoring Program Director and original HOPE mentor

I graduated in May 2016 with B.A.s in History and Mental Health and a minor in Public Health. I started with HOPE Mentoring from the very beginning as one of the first mentors, and had the honor to help develop the program over the years with the ever-growing team. I stayed with HOPE for about four years after graduation - until May 2020! I served as the Mentoring Program Director and then Co-Director during that time which means I was able to be involved with nearly every aspect of HOPE in some capacity which I absolutely loved. Working with the mentors, planning and participating in events, creating resources, promoting our program, and working with our amazing team at IU and the DOC.


Currently, I'm the Marketing Manager for Global Gifts, which is a non-profit fair-trade gift shop. My main focus for Global Gifts is e-commerce and growing our online store to match our sales from brick & mortar locations. I get to learn about fair trade artisan made goods from around the world and help spread the fair trade mission everyday - in such a creative role! Lucky for me, this role is remote because my partner works in Uganda and I often get to join him. 

My work with HOPE has influenced my life in truly countless ways. The team of people I met throughout my time with HOPE has inspired me more than I can express and shown me the type of people and organizations I want to work with the rest of my life. From a juvenile justice perspective, I’ve had my eyes opened to the nuances and problems within our systems and how that impacts our greater society. More broadly, working at HOPE has shown me how I can enact change in my community and how to dream big. Building HOPE from the ground up alongside Dr. Ochoa and our team taught me how much I’m capable of doing, and gave me so many tangible skills that have aided me in everything I do. 

HOPE has shown me that I want to always do work in an organization I’m passionate about, whether that’s with juvenile justice, fair trade, or sustainable travel. And I know my days of exploring the globe are just beginning. I can’t say what exactly I’ll be doing but I know I will always carry a little piece of HOPE in my heart! 

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Alice Gallegos

LaPorte Juvenile Correctional Facility

I graduated in May of 2018 with a Bachelors in Criminal Justice with distinction.  I actually became a mentor September of 2018, after graduation, and finished up March of 2020.  Since I had found out about the HOPE Mentoring program in my very last semester of college, Dr. Ochoa and her team allowed me to become a mentor, to which I’m truly grateful for.  I mentored in different capacities: in facility and in the community until my mentee was finally released.  


I currently volunteer at the Hobart Police Department with the Victim’s Advocate in the SERV Division, specifically working with domestic violence victims.  I’m located in Gary, IN., where I purchased my first home.  I recently accepted a job position with the Lake County Alcohol & Drug Offender Services. 


HOPE has influenced me in many aspects. HOPE has truly shown me the value of communication, commitment and importantly perseverance.  HOPE has also shown me that there’s always hope and no matter how bad something or someone can look, people can ALWAYS change. 


My future is not in my hands, I believe that God is in control. But, what I can say is that I will always do my best to be in the position to helping individuals in every possible way that I can. 

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