Michelle Chenier came to New Leaf in 2018 as a resident of Eleanor Chase House, a transitional living facility run by the Washington Department of Corrections. Since completing our barista training program she has become an inspiring advocate for the formerly incarcerated, and recently graduated from Washington State University. We caught up with Michelle to discuss her experiences and plans for the future, which you can read below. As a recent college graduate, Michelle is entering the job market at a uniquely challenging time. She asks that anyone with career leads reach out to her through LinkedIn.
Q: What did you find most valuable about the New Leaf Barista training program?
A: Being a New leaf Barista was my time away from institutional life, I spent my day working with Deanna where we had conversations about college, my future and I was learning new skills.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: My plan is to find a career I love while being able to financially support myself.
Q: What was your major, and why did you choose it?
A: I went with personnel psychology because I wanted to start a non-profit organization for second chance employment. Although this was my first time going to prison many women had returned multiple times and when I asked them “why?” They said because they couldn’t get a job that paid decent wages. Personnel psychology studies things like generational poverty, leadership, how to motivate people, and how to set up organizational policies and procedures so the organization runs with consistency and fairness. The most important thing to creating a successful company is creating an organization that supports their employees. When you take care of your employees they stay!
Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about joining one of the New Leaf job training programs?
A: Do it! With the industry for coffee right now you can make a decent wage without having a big education!
Q: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
A: If you have the chance to help someone with a background and they have proven they want a change. Offering them a chance could be life changing! You never know why someone ended up going down a wrong road but you could be the reason they find the right one.
Michelle Chenier, recent WSU graduate, completed New Leaf Barista Training in 2018