Bellevue University Alum Makes Impact in Criminal Justice
Barbara Gaskins grew up in humble beginnings in North Carolina. When she became an adult, she chose to jump right into the workforce.
Throughout her early career, she held several positions in the mental health, substance use and criminal justice fields.
“Like many people, I felt overworked and underpaid,” Gaskins explained. “In the field, although I was doing the work of someone with a degree, I was not getting paid to do the work, which is why I wanted to find a university that could provide me the experience and education needed.”
After some research, Gaskins learned of Bellevue University, where she ultimately decided to pursue her bachelor’s degree in behavioral science because the university would provide her with real-life experience in the field, fit in her schedule and enable her to grow.
“I chose the major because it matched the work that I had already been doing in the community,” Gaskins said. “This major was spot on with everything that I was already doing and was very beneficial.”
She added, “The professors were very knowledgeable, and my peers were very helpful. I learned so much that was valuable to my real-life experiences.”
Since graduating from Bellevue University in 2010, Gaskins has authored two books: “Closing the Revolving Door: Reentry Readiness,” and “NC Prerelease Blueprint” – a highly acclaimed reentry workbook that provides a comprehensive blueprint for successful reintegration. The book is currently in discussion to be run as a pilot program within eight prisons throughout the state of North Carolina.
“Bellevue provided me with that real world experience that I needed to have an impact in the field."
Gaskins also holds a master's degree in justice and security administration from the University of Phoenix, and is one credit shy of a master’s degree in special education with certifications in emotional behavioral disorders and response to intervention from Ball State University.
Today, Gaskins continues to work as a reentry coach, helping individuals transition back into society after incarceration. She’s also the founder of a non-profit organization focused on wellness and works specifically with individuals returning home from incarceration.
Last year, Gaskins ran for Congress on the platform of criminal justice reform, traveling through 15 counties in Eastern North Carolina and into neighborhoods of various socioeconomic backgrounds.
While she wasn’t elected, Gaskins still has an interest in politics and is currently running for mayor of her town and plans to continue advocating for criminal justice reform.
With her foundational education from Bellevue University, Gaskins succeeds no matter the work she’s doing.
“Bellevue provided me with that real world experience that I needed to have an impact in the field,” she said.