Having waged his own battles with homelessness and hopelessness allows Steve Monroe the compassion and strength of spirit to help others.
Monroe, who graduated from Rogue Community College in 2006, is a substance abuse counselor with Josephine County’s Alternative Sanctions Programs. “RCC’s Human Services program will always be the basic foundation of what I am doing,” he said. “Every day I rely on and use what I learned from instructors like Francine Gentile.”
Part of Monroe’s job involves advising recently released felons. “I am firm, and they respect that. We’re able to form connections based on mutual respect,” Monroe noted.
At one point Monroe’s own future seemed bleak. “My life sort of crumbled and felt apart after leaving the Army,” he recalled. Originally from San Francisco, Monroe came to the Veteran’s Affairs Domiciliary in White City to regain his life. Six months later he enrolled in one class at RCC. “Trying new pathways and different patterns was very enriching. I began to develop self-esteem and saw I could succeed,” he said.
Monroe worked hard and success followed. In 2006 he received the Outstanding Student Scholar Award from the Oregon Community College Association. Fellow students elected Monroe to lead student government, and he spoke at his graduation ceremony. “I learned a lot from my duties and responsibilities. And I was mentored by people like Jackie Cruz (student government advisor) and (RCC President) Peter Angstadt. I learned that anything can get done when people work together,” Monroe said. “It was priceless preparation that was thorough, compassionate, and prepared me for the real world. The education I got at RCC left no holes in what I needed to know.”
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