As Henry Ford famously said, “when everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” Although reentry can sometimes feel like a plane flying against the wind, determination to succeed can take you to new heights. Since reentering society, aspiring avionics engineer and Second Chance program graduate Gary Pate has worked tirelessly against the odds with his positive attitude and determination to follow his dreams.
During his three years of incarceration, Gary made sure to use each day wisely. If Gary wasn’t spending time in the library or band room, he was creating various art projects, designing board games, and even drawing blueprints of model airplanes, which is something that he has always loved to do. “I was determined to make my time as productive as it could be,” according to Gary. Close to the end of his incarceration, Gary was granted permission to instruct a model airplane course to fellow inmates. He also used this time to better himself mentally and spiritually.
Although Gary used his time incarcerated to focus on self-improvement, he knew that prison was a place he never wanted to be again. Even though Gary was extremely motivated for change once released, getting back on his feet was a difficult task. Like many others, Gary had to start from the ground up by figuring out various tasks such as the driver’s license reinstatement process and obtaining insurance. While navigating reintegration, Gary knew he had to be resilient and adapt to his changing environments so he could continue his journey towards success.
To assist with the barriers he was facing, Gary received a referral from his Parole Officer to get involved with the Second Chance program. When he entered the program, Gary needed assistance with employment and housing. At Second Chance, matching employment with personal skills and interests is extremely important. It is crucial that participants create a positive relationship with their workplace and develop their interests into careers, which is something that Gary has always worked towards. Aside from employment assistance and housing, the program was able to help Gary with various resource referrals and assistance navigating external programs. To Gary, this was the most helpful component of the program. In an interview, Gary said, “Second Chance gave me all of the tools I needed and I had to go do the work, and that’s the way it should be.”
As a Line Service Technician at the IXD Airport in Gardner, Kansas, Gary works hard every single day in a field that he loves. He has expressed gratitude to his coworkers who have been extremely supportive of his journey in the industry. He is also thankful for the support provided by his friends, family, and Parole Officer. In the near future, he plans to attend the Aircraft Electronics Association School so he can pursue his life-long dream of becoming an avionics engineer. In the meantime, he is pursuing his professional pilots license and gaining valuable experience. We are very proud of Gary’s accomplishments and are excited to watch him soar in the future.