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Instilling Change: Dae Qwan Smith

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

Dae Qwan Smith was born in Minnesota, to two loving parents, three brothers and one sister. She was raised with a great support system, her mother and grandmother being the focus. Prior to her time in prison, Dae Qwan worked a few small jobs here and there, but never really found the stability she dreamed of. She moved around with various family members in Minnesota and Iowa and in 2016 she moved to Jefferson City, MO to stay with her mother, as her father had since been incarcerated.

She recounts the night of the incident that changed her life. She says she should have trusted her intuition and not went out that night, as the dispute with family members had nothing to do with her. Being young and just searching for something to do, anything, tragedy found its way in her life when she tried to intervene in an argument and altered her life path permanently. With a violent felony now on her record, Dae Qwan knew she wanted radical change.

Dae Qwan was incarcerated at Chillicothe Correctional Center for two years and took advantage of rehabilitation opportunities. Smith completed Pathways to change, Anger management, and ICVC (Impact crime victim classes). Before her release from prison, she met a Resource Specialist at an outreach event who would play a pivotal role in planting the seed of Second Chance and what that could mean in her own life. In 2020 she reached out.

Dae Qwan was released to Kansas City in December 2019 and entered the Second Chance Program in early March 2020. Her intake assessment occurred just seven days before the Stay-at-Home Order in KC due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Not only was she learning about a new city, new parole conditions, but a terrifying health pandemic while committed to transforming her life for a more prosperous future. She recounts the barriers she faced trying to start over and get back on her feet, especially that her felonies made it hard to find employment and gain the confidence to show up to interviews. Once she heard about the background checks she would feel as if there was no point in showing up.

Her participation in the Second Chance program gave her the tools she needed for success. Not only did she gain confidence, assertive communication styles, interviewing skills, and resources but she was able to obtain a Forklift License, her first driving lessons, assistance with work clothes, and financial coaching. She is proud to say with the help of Second Chance and her Resource Specialist, she secured her first professional reference and positive support systems.

When asked what advice she would give someone in her situation, Dae Qwan states that she would let them know that the outside world may be a scary place, prison life is familiar, but there is hope and a place to go for support and assistance after incarceration. She also wants people to know to stay away from other folks’ drama.

Dae Qwan is gainfully employed and inline for a promotion to Supervisor. Her support systems consist of her mother and sister and sober friends. Her favorite past times are walking, listening to music and her favorite color is purple. She is staying on the straight and narrow and has not been in any trouble since her release. She has managed to avoid any perceived trouble and for this she is proud.

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