In his journey through life—a Boston native by way of Arizona—Nashid Mateen has held a variety of jobs, from working at Jack in the Box to working as a medical biller. As a young adult, the ever-fluctuating nature of the job market forced him to confront the harsh reality of unstable careers. He remained fueled by his responsibility to support his family through the transitions. In a twisted turn of fate, he became involved in the justice system, taking him away from his family and forcing him to start his life anew. Now released, Nashid is on a journey to finding his place in the workforce with the help of the San Diego Workforce Partnership’s Reentry Works and other community members whose mission is to support those impacted by the justice system. Below, Nashid tells us about his experiences and his future goals.
Married at 25, I embraced the challenges of supporting a family. My desire to provide for my wife and three children and the determination not to replicate my father’s mistakes, led me to embark on a quest for stable employment. I weathered the 2007-8 mortgage crisis storm, designed air conditioning systems for an HVAC company and delved into the intricacies of medical billing. After 15 years of marriage, resentment and hostility led to the inevitable decision to divorce. It was during this tumultuous period that I found myself behind bars at the age of 41.
The initial shock of incarceration forced me into a period of introspection. Soul-searching became a daily routine as I scrutinized every decision that led me to that point. It dawned on me that the common denominator in my life’s highs and lows was my choices and the thought processes that shaped them.
Through the survival instincts brought on by the prison environment, I found the focus to envision a better future. In the final years of my incarceration, I enrolled in a correspondence paralegal studies program through Blackstone Career Institute, navigating the complexities of case law. Simultaneously, I discovered Persevere Now, a year-long program that offered a pathway to become a certified full-stack software developer.
Upon release, my uncle suggested relocating to San Diego, where I crossed paths with Izzy, career navigator with the Workforce Partnership, at a Pact meeting (community meetings to provide parolees with the resources available to ease their transition back into society). In the world of reintegration, it’s often an uphill battle to find support, but Izzy and the San Diego Workforce Partnership were different. With the support of their funding and Izzy’s guidance, I was able to continue my software and job readiness training in my pursuit of a career in technology.
As I continue to grow my professional network and gain new skills that will allow me to reenter the workforce, I realize that true redemption lies in owing my mistakes and making a positive impact afterward. The road to rebuilding is challenging, but every step forward is a testament to resilience and the unwavering belief in the power of second chances.
A personal mission of mine is to share my post-release journey with others. I am working on a documentary, called “Prison 2 Success,” to dismantle stereotypes about those who have served time. The goal is to showcase that everyone deserves a second chance and that the investment in programs like Persevere Now goes toward rebuilding lives, not just serving a sentence.
In the coming year, I plan to apply the skills I’ve acquired and prove that a past marked by mistakes doesn’t define a person. I am more than my transgressions—I am a determined individual committed to rewriting the narrative and demonstrating that redemption is possible and achievable for those who persevere.