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Counselor at Father Joe's Villages awarded scholarship to further education

Posted at 9:01 AM, Oct 24, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Kimberly Knopik has come a long way from where she used to be to in her office at Father Joe’s Village Health Center.

“I just didn’t know that using all of them drugs, you know, was going to put my life where my life went,” Knopik said.

After once experiencing homelessness, being incarcerated, and addiction, Knopik is being a better person by helping others at Father Joe’s as a substance use disorder counselor.

“When I walk from my office down to the corner, around wherever I’m going and I see young people or I go through the residential here, I will stop. And I will engage in conversation with them, invite them to groups, you know, and have a conversation,” Knopik said.

She’s currently working on her associate degree to further her education as a counselor.

“I haven’t been in school a long, long time but let me tell you my brain has fired up. I just want to learn. I just want to help people.”

And Knopik’s colleague told her about a scholarship to help her in pursuit of knowledge to help people.

“I had never completed anything, so I never knew to apply for a scholarship,” Knopik said.

It was through the State’s Department of Health Care Access and Information and the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative.

“I was like I’m going to try and I did. And I was awarded almost $25,000,” Knopik said.

“These initiatives are focused on ensuring that we’re able to provide equitable access to everybody but, also ensure that equitable opportunity for all Californians from underserved communities, from diverse backgrounds, from experiences like Kim’s to take advantage of that; to become the future of California’s health workforce,” Hovik Khosrovian, Senior Policy Advisor for Workforce Development at the HCAI, said.

Getting that money help fund her dreams is almost unbelievable.

“I had spent so many years in the State of California, you know, in their prison system. And then to turn around and be a receipting of a scholarship from them, you know, sometimes it’s hard for me to accept that I’ve put in a lot of work,” Knopik said.

And her message to others at Father Joe’s and beyond who are in her old shoes looking to make a change.

“But if you want a good life and you want to make some other changes then, there are people that believe in people like us and want to see us succeed. But if you don’t know, you don’t know and, today, I know,” Knopik said.

Knopik’s goal after being awarded the scholarship is to hopefully transfer to San Diego State to get her bachelor’s and then work to get her license to be professional clinical counselor.