Alumni Spotlight

Fernando Zacarias

Fernando Zacarias

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of resilience is “to recover quickly and easily from hardship.”  Resilience is the perfect word to describe 20 year old Fernando Zacarias.

Fernando was released from Ventura Fire Camp on May 5th, 2011 and, in less than 60 days, secured a job and enrolled in school at West Los Angeles College.  Fernando intends to major in film and dreams of becoming a screenwriter and producer.

Fernando is one of the Alumni Program’s stars – participating in writing classes, life skills enrichment sessions and the VOC (Voices of Cool) screenwriting project.  This summer, Fernando is also participating in a four-week photography project sponsored by East Los Angeles College.

He recognizes the importance of staying busy, networking and honing his skills.  In addition to his professional and academic aspirations, Fernando fills up what little free time he has with writing, public speaking, inspiring others, exercising and reading books.

After three years of incarceration, Fernando recognizes that while no one wants to be incarcerated, he used his time positively to get his mind right and start preparing for the rest of his life.

He was fortunate to participate in the Alpha Program at Ventura Fire Camp, where he met Rosalinda Vint, President of Women of Substance & Men of Honor, Inc.  Rosalinda encouraged him to be the leader that she knew he was destined to be.

Through the Alpha Program, Fernando was also introduced to Scott Budnick, President of Green Hat Films, the production company best known for the HANGOVER movies.  Scott is also one of IOW’s longest serving volunteer teachers at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall.  He has played an influential role in Fernando’s life, both during and following his incarceration.

The youngest of three boys, Fernando’s parents and siblings are extremely proud of his life-change and are encouraging and supportive of his new journey.  Realizing there is a better life for all of us out there, Fernando believes we can all change – and that is what keeps him motivated.

–Liza Bray

“A Beautiful Day”

Change is a word that is easier said than done.
Incarceration was a priceless gift given to me.
I understand what I did and caused was wrong.
There is no excuse for it.
My perspective of life changed
when I realized from within myself my true essence.
I feel everyone is beyond just a physical body.
There is more to it in this physical realm.
As for change, with a free mind, body and soul,
it was possible.
Myself and my fellow good friends that I met on this journey of life helped in this process of change.
This second chance at life is a different experience for me
for I have distinguished from what is good and evil.
Not only has my way of thinking changed>
but that is not as important as I have had a change of heart.
My presence and when I speak is how, not scientifically,
but the sense of it will prove to you this change.
Today is a beautiful day to be free
and to free others from their struggles.

Fernando Zacarias