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Mom graduates with Ph.D; inspires others ex-cons

Posted at 9:49 AM, Jun 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-21 13:36:52-04

LEHIGH ACRES, Fl — Bella Perkins loves to help her mom.

“Girl power!”, she tells Fox 4 as she carefully places their product into labeled packaging.

Their home doubles as their warehouse. It’s where they pack “Swimmie Caps”, a brand of swim caps inspired by Bella.

“We don’t like getting our hair wet”, she says.

The business is owned and operated by her mom, Yolanda Perkins. “I have supporters and customers from all over the world.”

Yolanda says “Swimmie Caps” and “Undies by Blenditone” were once dreams she carefully folded into a mason jar. “When you write down, you make it real.”

A determined mindset for someone whose previous businesses failed. But, the wife and mom of two says determination, perseverance, resilience all became mindsets of hers after facing consequences for decisions she made in college. “I was turned and changed the minute they slapped handcuffs on me.”

“I stole credit cards,” she says. She served three years in federal prison.

Upon her release, finding employment proved tough. “I was told ‘no, no, no, no, no’.”

She was eventually hired by Goodwill, but continued her studies. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. As of this month, she earned a Doctorate in Education with a Concentration in Organizational Leadership.

Through tears, she reflects. “I’m so proud of myself. It’s been a long journey. I keep my little jars with my little notes so I can see all my notes over the years.”

Her helper chimes in to share in a reflection of her own. “I’m so proud of her”, Bella says. “I’m so excited.”