A TALE OF RECOVERY, REINVENTION & INSPIRATION
Teresa Housley’s life has taken an incredible series of twists and turns. From six-figure sales supervisor to living in a campground. From involved mother to incarcerated prisoner. From depressed drifter to motivated seeker. From on the verge of complete collapse to graduation from Ventura College with a psychology degree.
“Ventura College is my home,” says the 51-year-old Arizona native today. “It’s the only home I know now. It’s been a struggle, but this place helps build you up. It’s given me a reason to live.”
Not long ago, Teresa’s life was an even bigger struggle. Estranged from her conservative family ever since she came out as lesbian at age 19, Teresa later suffered through a brutal custody battle for her son with her partner. That led to a deep depression, which led to heavy drinking and, eventually, hard drug abuse. Ultimately, Teresa found herself in a California prison in 2014.
While incarcerated, Teresa began to take educational classes. After she was released from prison, she ended up in a recovery home. Upon her release, she reconciled some with her parents and started doing “handyman” work around the Ventura area. In January 2016, she enrolled at Ventura College.
“By then, I had figured out how to get into classes, and I had direction,” remembers Teresa. “They sent me to a career counselor. I told him my full story. He’s still my counselor today.”
Teresa, who now serves as a proud Ventura College Foundation Student Ambassador, applied for EOPS — Education Opportunities Program Services. From there, she was introduced to the Ventura College Foundation — which has helped her secure three different scholarships during her time at the school.
“It was amazing,” recalls Teresa. “Within a year, I had people who wanted to support me and help me. I was able to really connect with the instructors here too. They’ve absolutely facilitated so much for me. Everybody at Ventura College is just so supportive. The self-esteem building for me at that time in my life was huge.”
Now clean for four years and set to graduate with her degree, Teresa plans to apply to various California state universities. She hopes to earn a master’s degree in either psychology or holistic studies, or maybe even both.
“When people ask me what I’m doing, I tell them I’m studying psychology for my career and I’m studying holistics for my life,” says Teresa. “I’m going to put the two together. My goal is to become a life coach or a motivational speaker.”
Teresa adds that none of this would have been possible if not for Ventura College, its people, and its programs.
“Ventura College is the best rehabilitation I have ever encountered,” says Teresa. “And I’ve been through a few. I realized I have a lot to offer and I can make this work. And I couldn’t have done this without their help. They just don’t care about your past. They look at who you are. There’s always somebody there to help you. It’s a very special place.”
Teresa knows that others like her could experience similar success thanks to the support network, community, and culture at Ventura College. She looks forward to passing this message on after she herself moves on.
“If you want to change your life, if you want a chance in life, and you’re in this area…this is the place to start,” says Teresa. “You can trust that your best interest is at their heart.”