I’m 50 years of age; a halfway point for someone who lives to be 100. With today’s modern science, it’s achievable. That being said, I am more active now than I have been in previous years and have started a healthy journey of recovery not only mentally and emotionally, but physically.

Some are late bloomers. Others know what they want from the start. Me? I am the former.

I thought I had a plan. After high school, I would join the U.S. Army to see the world and then take it from there. As President and General U.S. Grant said in the preface to his memoirs however, “Man proposes and God disposes.”

As a consequence of Army life, the stress I was under triggered latent mental illness, and I was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and sent home. Since then, I have discovered my strengths and accepted my weaknesses.

It wasn’t easy; too many times I failed, only to try again and then fail again. It wasn’t until I discovered journalism that I achieved something, 7 years after graduating from college.

For the past 17 years, I have written articles, reported breaking news, and edited the work of others in an often stressful, deadline-driven environment for many publications, both large and small. This has produced award-winning journalism, all without becoming symptomatic of my illness.

Coming full circle, an internship at Policy Research Associates, Inc. connects the dots: mental illness, recovery, and journalism.

Policy Research Associates’ mission is “creating positive social change through technical assistance, research ,and training for people who are disadvantaged.” This mission statement is written in clear letters on a large sign as you enter the building, reminding employees and visitors alike of this important mission.

I work in the communications department of PRA, supporting the work of the company and its topical focus areas, which include recovery supports, accessing benefits, criminal justice, juvenile justice, wellness, education, and child welfare. These in turn support the company’s mission.

My drill sergeant at U.S. Army basic training used to say to me, “Mind over matter. I don’t mind and you don’t matter.” What the mind knows, the body will follow. This mind-body connection is important to understand not only for promoting PRA’s mission, but in the overall health of our communities.

Creating positive social change for people who are disadvantaged requires discipline, knowledge, and fortitude. Knowledge is applied with discipline and fortitude in creating social change. This is what PRA does. That is why I am here.

By learning, understanding, and applying our strengths while accepting our weaknesses, we can be the change we desire for ourselves, our families, and our communities. We may not live to be 100, but we are on the road to that place. See you all in 2066.