Ted Somers graduated with an associate degree for transfer from Compton College in June 2019 with plans to transfer to a local four-year university to pursue a double major in psychology and behavioral science. His hope is to give back to the community by pursuing a future career as a substance abuse counselor, specifically working with the formerly incarcerated.
Somers spent 18 years in and out of the correctional system but his passion for helping others and interest in leadership motivated him to redirect his life and become a case manager and drug abuse counselor for other formerly incarcerated individuals.
During his time at Compton College, Somers served as the first president of Compton College's award-winning Formerly Incarcerated Student Transition (F.I.S.T.) program. The F.I.S.T. program provides academic, social and economic support for students reentering the community after incarceration. The program helps students develop confidence in themselves and their abilities through regular support meetings, skills training and professional development, career counseling and entrepreneurship exploration, career workshops, and basic skills enhancement. As a student equity worker, Somers counseled parolees on campus and helped keep them motivated.
In 2018, Somers became the student trustee for the Compton Community College District (CCCD). As the student trustee, Somers attended all Board meetings, discussed student-related issues, and receive all materials presented to the members of the CCCD Board of Trustees, except for closed session issues. He also made regular reports to the Associated Student Body and at other public forums held on behalf of Compton College students. "I was interested in becoming the student trustee because I want to help address and improve issues that students are concerned about," said Somers. "Sometimes students express concerns among themselves and nothing gets done about it. I contributed, from the student's point of view, important factors that will help frame policies that will support student success."
Somers said Compton College gave him the tools to make significant changes in his life. He credits the Compton College faculty and staff with genuinely wanting students to succeed. "There are some really good instructors here and kind-hearted counselors that listen and give students extra help, no questions asked."
Somers believes positive change is within everyone's grasp. "I wasted 18 years in and out of the correctional system," he said. "Now, I am a college graduate and I served a term as the student trustee. Anybody can change if they really want to. You have to want to be motivated to be something better in life."