From Trauma to Triumph: How an Immaculata University Graduate Overcame Poverty and Depression


Kendall Reese.
Image via Immaculata University.
Overcoming poverty and trauma, Immaculata University's Kendall Reese is committed to breaking the cycle of generational poverty and violence.
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Immaculata University graduate Kendall Reese (’15 M.A.) grew up in generational poverty, one of six children raised by a single mother in Philadelphia’s public housing. He witnessed so much violence in his neighborhood and so many deaths that he became desensitized.

“As a kid, I kind of lost emotion,” Reese said. “A lot of my core issues came from being stuck in deep poverty and being depressed as a result of it.”

Incarcerated for a felony in the 1980s, Reese’s life took a turn when his dying mother urged him to attend college. Enrolling in community college, he studied behavioral health, realizing his depression and trauma. Reese earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Philadelphia University and began coaching basketball, where he could inspire youths through sports.

A grant helped Reese earn a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Immaculata University, strengthening his analytical and helping skills. He enjoyed learning about different psychological diagnoses and therapeutic tools, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and reality therapy, to help people move forward.

In 2016, Reese founded Honor Thy Neighbor, a nonprofit that comprehensively addresses generational poverty. Reese’s personal experience, combined with education, mental health, and employment, fuels his mission to break the cycle of poverty and violence. Through his “one-stop-shop” approach, he seeks grants and partners to scale his nonprofit and make a lasting impact.

Read more about Reese’s story and how Immaculata University offers more than 75 in-demand undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs and provides affordable, career-focused education accessible to all students, regardless of income, location, test scores, or academic achievement.

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