strong woman and that I could take care of myself. I was unable to go to the funeral. When I got out, I was able to go make my peace with that. In addition, I went and took care of her mother. Wendy: Did you receive any schooling? Marilyn: I graduated from Youth authority. All of the education I received came from institutions. I’ve always been a person who wanted to learn something. So, I learned a lot, although I didn’t use it much, I’m glad that I did get an education as it is helping me on my journey. Wendy: How did you become sober? Marilyn: In 2001, I gave my life to Christ. After promising God that I would make a change in my life, I went into a recovery program. I was supposed to be on my way to prison but this new opportunity was being created to give people the chance to go into treatment instead of prison. With my record, I didn’t think I qualified for the program. Wendy: So, how did you get in? Marilyn: I shared a cell with a lady who was looking at a life sentence. She was like a guardian angel. We prayed and had bible study, something that I had never done. In regards to going to treatment as opposed to prison, she said, “Claim it Marilyn, you’ll get it.” I sat in jail for 5 months and they passed this law, Proposition 36, which made me eligible for treatment. I was initially given a 7-year prison sentence. The judge told me, “I will put this 7 years in red because you’ll be back to get it!” I didn’t say anything, but I knew in my heart that I was not coming back. I went into the program and did everything they asked me to do. I learned how to set goals for myself. I made it a goal to work for this program and run their sober living program. I wanted to help people. I wanted others to know that change was possible with the help of God. I wanted them to be able to look at my life and actually see change. Wendy: A lot of people don’t make it through the whole program. Did you finish your program? Marilyn: Yes. When I graduated from the program, I decided to go to school and be a phlebotomist. You know with me being a heroin addict, I figured I could draw some blood. God has a sense of humor. I went to the school and ran into someone I used to do drugs with. She had been sober for 3 years and was going to school for Human Services. I followed her lead. I got into the field of Human Services while still living in my recovery program. I moved on to the program’s sober living program. They offered me a weekend position. I worked there on the weekend and I lived for 4 years in the sober living program until I got my life together. I became the Assistant Program Director. When I left there I was a Drug and Alcohol Counselor and now I am a Certified Addictions Specialist. I went to another facility and I continued to go to school. I obtained my Associates Degree in Human Services. Currently, I am working towards my Bachelor’s Degree and I will receive that in January 2010. Afterward, I will go on and get my Masters degree. I want be a Clinical Supervisor. My ultimate goal is to obtain my PhD. After 38 years, I have a PhD from the streets but I need one to put on my wall with the rest of my achievements. Wendy: Something tells me you’ll definitely get it. Marilyn: Girl, I know I will. God’s grace and mercy has healed me and I have totally surrendered to the best of my ability. I’m not perfect but I know what God can do. Today I live a life that I never ever thought possible, not as a dope addict. Wendy: Wow, God has put your feet on a totally different path. Think of the lives you have touched and the lives you can reach because of your experience. I’m sure God is opening many doors.