Caprice Morales had a tough childhood – one riddled with drugs and abuse from those around her. By the time she was 14, she was pregnant, living on her own, and had left school.
“I had to skip my childhood and be an adult so early,” she said.
She found herself in trouble as she got older, and spent time in prison on four separate occasions. By the fourth time, she had decided she wanted more for herself and that it was time to turn her life around.
“I had to figure out how to live like a regular person, and learn how to face my problems head on.”
She started by reading the bible and staying away from the “rowdy” crowd in prison. By the time she was released, she was ready a fresh start and was determined to do everything on her own. She started by living at Grace House, a residential program that provides interim housing, emotional and spiritual support, and professional counseling to women who are exiting the Illinois prison system. She then enrolled in a program St. Leonard’s Ministries Alternative High School to earn her high school diploma.
“I took studying so seriously – I would even miss family gatherings because I was so focused,” said Caprice.
Once she had her GED, she knew she wouldn’t stop there. She found Malcolm X College just down the street, and enrolled in credit classes in 2009. She graduated with her Associate of Arts in Sociology in 2016. She thought she was done with school at that point, but was encouraged by staff at MXC, especially Tanya Cox who worked in the Disability Access Center, to keep going.
And she did. Caprice is a student at DePaul University, and is set to earn her bachelor’s degree in Urban Family Science in the fall of 2019.
“Economics, racism, poverty; all those things I had experienced already were intriguing to me. I knew I could be a tool of change, and could help enhance communities – and an education was going to help me do that,” she explained.
She’s also the 2019 recipient of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning’s Adult Learner of the Year Award, after being nominated by her professor and mentor at DePaul.
Caprice is quick to say that this isn’t her accomplishment alone and she has a long list of people who have supported her throughout her journey. Her family and in particular her grandmother, Clara Dixon, who never gave up on her, and her three children, Natassia, DeAngelo, and Caprielle, are at the top of the list. She also appreciates the constant support of her siblings and their spouses: Jermaine and Audrella Morales, Devon and Adrienne Morales, Marcy Daniels, Stephanie Boyd Passtor Wilson, and Gladys Daniels. Finally, Professors Walton and Tolliver, who have guided her and supported her as she works to achieve her academic goals.
She’s also grateful that City Colleges opens its doors to anyone looking to better their lives through education, including the formerly incarcerated.
And to anyone who is thinking of going back to school, she would simply say “if you don’t think you can do it, you’re wrong.”