The sisters are pursuing higher education while working full time
Those at the California Medical Facility (CMF) might think they’re seeing double, but it’s actually identical twins, Jennifer and Stephanie Lewis. The couple work at Vacaville Prison, Jennifer is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and Stephanie is a Personnel Specialist. The twins not only share the same DNA, they share the same passion for furthering their education. They say they have always pushed themselves to succeed.
Both graduated with a bachelor’s degree, Jennifer in Therapeutic Recreation and Stephanie in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. Stéphanie is also a certified alcohol and other drug counsellor.
As COVID gained traction around the world, the sisters agreed it was a good time to continue their education. The CMF twins have decided to start preparing for their master’s degree in social work.
Social work will open more doors
“Social work was the best transition from what I do now. It allows me to open more doors to be able to move around CDCR,” says Jennifer.
Stephanie said social work is a way to help more people.
“I realized that I wanted to be able to do more for people and help them achieve their goals. To do anything with people for mental health, you have to get a master’s or doctoral level education.
The twins are pursuing their master’s degree in addition to working 40 hours a week at CMF. They are also trainees for up to 16 hours per week.
“I work Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” says Jennifer. “It takes me about an hour to get home. Once home, I grab something to eat and immerse myself in my homework. I listen to lectures in the car on the way to work and on the way home. (That way) I can focus on readings, discussion forums, homework and homework. »
Juggling work, school and an internship, Stephanie said she somehow got by.
“I work full-time on staff, commute for an hour, and then be at my internship site three days a week. Classes are eight weeks accelerated so students can complete the program in two years. I am currently in the seventh week of two courses as well.
How’s it feel to have a twin sister?
“I have a sister who looks like me, and she’s also my best friend,” says Stephanie.
Jennifer, who is a minute older than Stephanie, says, “That’s great. We’ve been best friends since birth.
The sisters are competitive, but in a good way.
“We are both competitive and we definitely support each other. This whole process of working full time, doing an internship and going to school is very stressful. I’m so happy to have his support,” says Jennifer.
“We can be competitive in some areas, but we generally encourage each other and also do our own things,” explains Stephanie.
Jennifer and Stephanie may not realize it, but through their hard work, drive and drive to improve, they inspire those around them.
“Jennifer and Stephanie Lewis are a true inspiration to those looking to pursue higher education,” said CMF Director Jennifer Benavidez. “(Their) ability to balance work, studies and personal life is honourable. They show everyone around them what commitment means. They are role models for those who think it is unachievable.
Warden Benavidez said the twins’ efforts earned the respect of their colleagues.
“The skills they learn in their education courses transfer into their professional lives, improving their critical thinking and problem-solving skills while working in their career field. We are very proud and respect the Lewis sisters for their dedication to their education and career and are very grateful to have them as part of the CMF family.
Life Goals for CMF Twins
Where do the Lewis sisters see themselves in five or ten years?
“I hope to see myself as a licensed clinical social worker and be able to impact people somewhere. Hopefully this is still within the CDCR and part of the integrated treatment program for substance use disorders. I think addiction treatment coupled with mental health treatment is extremely important,” says Stephanie.
“I hope to be a licensed social worker with CDCR and have my own home practice. At least that’s the plan right now. That could always change. “incarceration to life in the community. I feel like there’s a huge gap in ongoing care,” Jennifer said.
Story by Joe Orlando, Public Information Officer
Photos by Clarissa Resultan, TV Specialist
Career development opportunities
If you are looking to improve, there are resources on the CDCR website offering career and advancement opportunities through education or Departmental resources. Check with your supervisor and your human resources representative. You may want to check out the Upward Mobility Program
Another benefit for those working in the civil service is the potential forgiveness of student loans under the Civil Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The program allows those who have at least 10 years of full-time employment with an eligible employer, such as a nonprofit or government organization, to have their direct federal student loans forgiven. For more information, visit https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service
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