Jacquelyn Hunt Receives Master’s
from Lakeland College
Hope Springs Eternal
over to Atwood Avenue, getting him into day care and literally having five minutes to get back out to catch the return bus to get back to the
square to take classes at MATC Downtown. Then when I got done with those classes, I would get on a bus and go over to Truax and take a
class and then come back home, get a little homework done and then get back on the bus and go all the way back over to Atwood to pick
Julian up, have that same five minutes to get in and get him out and back on the bus to get back to the square. And I did it. See people look
know and they see the end result. But yeah, no one knows what it was like really walking in my shoes during that time.”

Hunt was on a mission to get her other children back with her. They were living with their dad in Milwaukee and Hunt ended up getting into a
custody battle with him before she ended up with all of her children under one roof.

“We all lived in that little two-bedroom apartment in Chalet Gardens,” Hunt said. “But we were family and we were together. I got an apartment
on Hammersley, three bedrooms and we all thrived. All of my kids graduated, did prom and did everything that normal kids do. They got driver’
s licenses. One of them stole a car. But the one thing that I am most grateful for is that none of them used or abused substances. They don’t
smoke cigarettes. They don’t drink. They don’t use drugs. They are fine. Romey has a studio over on Regent Street, Sound Check. Jaquesha, my
daughter Sugar, has JFM Unlimited and she is phenomenal. She does everything. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. My
daughter Geneva graduated from high school. She’s 25-years-old now, working it out, trying to figure out some things. All of my kids graduated
from high school and went away to college. My son Julian now is playing basketball at North Dakota State. He took 18 credits and has a 4.0
GPA. I am super blessed. Despite me, my babies are good.”

Hunt got her first professional job from Nehemiah Community Development back in 1996 while she still attended Madison College.  

“I was hired as one of six community support specialists,” Hunt recalled. “That’s when my career started. I was placed in Sun Prairie.
Basically that whole job was everything that I had done. It was me helping other people overcome barriers to self-sufficiency. So while at the
time, there was still some utilization of government support, but I was on my way. One of the highlights of that was finding WIC checks in a
parking lot that were for four people. And the names on the WIC checks indicated that there were two sets of twins in this household, so I
sought that person out. I knocked on the door and she hollered, ‘Who is it’ in a little sassy voice. When I introduced myself and she opened the
door, she couldn’t believe that I was a Black woman returning her property. And she had two sets of twins at the time. Our relationship has
grown and she has had a third set of twins. One of those twins is now part of a group called Trilogy. That’s important because I see how even
back in 1996, seeds were being planted and God was using me way back then. One day, we were riding in a car together and she said to me,
‘How do I get like you?’ I thought to myself, ‘Why would anyone like to be like me?’ But what she saw in me was a hard-working woman. She
saw honesty, perseverance and openness about my own struggles. She knew that I had been an addict and I no longer used. She just wanted
to do better with her life too. And today, she is awesome.”

Hunt worked and attended Madison College, earning her associate’s degree in 1999. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the National
Honor Society and spoke at commencement.

“At the end of my associate degree program, I had to do an internship,” Hunt said. “I was the first and only student that Journey Mental Health
Center — then Mental Health Center of Dane County — had ever taken from MATC in their drug and alcohol program as an intern. So I did my
internship and then at the end I was hired provisionally through the summer. The following year in 2000, I was offered a full-time position and I’
ve been there ever since.”

In 2003, Hunt had to get certified. She had just become a homeowner through Habitat for Humanity. And she was up for getting certified as an
AODA counselor.

“The certification process was a written exam, which was very intense,” Hunt recalled. “I passed that, but then there was an oral exam as
well. And I had to go to Milwaukee to take this exam. I remember godmommie, Milele, praying with me that morning. I was so nervous. I went
down there and got 98 out of 100 on the oral exam. I thought I had 100 out of 100, but whatever, they took two points off for something. Maybe it
was because I kept saying, ‘Umm.’ I remember coming out one day to my driveway and opening up my mailbox and there was my certification.
I just started dancing in my driveway, praising God. It was real. Then I started to believe that my life was real. Before I was going through
some type of motions, but then things just became real for me. ‘You’re actually doing this Jackie. You’re clean.’ It had been almost 10 years
then because I was incarcerated in 1994. And this was 2003. I hadn’t used drugs or alcohol during that time despite all of the things that had
come up against me during that time.”

Eventually, Hunt was compelled to go back to school because of changes going on in the industry and at Journey. Nothing was going to turn
Hunt around.

“I got laid off part of my position to part-time in 2010,” Hunt said. “And immediately, I went to school at Upper Iowa University for my bachelor’s
degree in human services. I graduated from there cum laude in 2012. I graduated May 5. I had hip replacement surgery June 25. And I started
grad school September 19 at Lakeland College.”

Hunt isn’t done now that she has earned her master’s degree. She plans to found an organization that will assist single parents through all of
the trials and tribulations she went through.

“My next step is FOSTER, Families Overcoming Struggles To Encourage Restoration,” Hunt said. “It’s a program that my entire grad school
career, every paper, every research project that I needed to do was in support of this program. What I learned through the foster care system
and what I see here in Madison and Dane County with children of color and the disparities, I believe there is a correlation. It might not be the
only solution, but I want to keep families together, give them services with a service person assisting them. A lot of these young parents
haven’t been parented, so we can’t expect them to know how to parent unless we model that for them. They shouldn’t be penalized and
punished by losing their children because of something that they don’t have. So I believe that FOSTER will help these moms learn to become
moms. And by doing so, the children will go to school and do better and by doing so, we’ll be reducing and minimizing the incarceration rates
of African Americans. Everything will be impacted and I’m hopeful and excited about this program.”

It’s a program that will allow Hunt to reach back and help someone else up and keep giving back to a community from which she has greatly
benefited.
By Jonathan Gramling  

Part 2 of 2

Whenever one meets Jacquelyn Hunt, one thing that is striking about her is that
she always has a smile on her face. One could easily get the impression that
she doesn’t have a care in the world. However, Hunt has plenty of cares. She is
a single parent who has raised seven children, five biological and two adopted,
her way of paying back for all of the help that she received in her life when
some of her children were placed in foster care. And she hit rock bottom before
arising again, becoming an AODA counselor at Journey Mental Health Center
and earning her master’s degree from Lakeland College on May 3. It wasn’t easy.

Eventually when Hunt was released from Taycheedah, she found housing at the
YWCA’s Third Street Program inside their residence on E. Mifflin Street and
enrolled at Madison College.

"“At Third Street, I got a scholarship to work on my human services degree at
MATC,” Hunt said. “I did that while living at the Third Street Program. My
mornings would be getting up at 5 a.m., taking Julian on a bus ride all the way
Lakeland College master’s graduate Jacquelyn Hunt and her
children Jerome Hunt, Jacquesha
McFarlane, Jyneeva Hunt, Julian Walters, Johnetta Walters,
Jaleel Hunt, and Jaleah Hunt