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Formerly incarcerated person to graduate with master's degree in social work from UT; works to curb youth violence

Bradley Higgs, 46, has been homeless and spent time behind bars, but he's turned his life around. Now, he plans to help troubled youths turn their lives around too.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Every person has a journey, and some are harder than others. Bradley Higgs' story is a hard one, but he's been able to turn his life around.

Higgs, 46, has faced challenges of homelessness and spending time behind bars for burglary. But in 2013, he graduated from Owens Community College. Since then, he's earned a bachelor's degree in social work from the University of Toledo and will graduate Saturday with a master's degrees.

He's hoping his life will inspire the next generation to make a change before it's too late.

"My dad is amazing. He's definitely my role model. Just being his daughter and seeing things from my view, he's definitely had a lot of challenges," his daughter, Alasha Higgs, said.

Higgs plans to use his life and his education to help young people in the Toledo community. He started a non-profit called the Ohio Behavioral Diversion Treatment Center in 2020.

"Change starts first with us and within us," Higgs said. "We're just helping youth understand that. A lot of times we find that people are lashing out at society because of those different things."

Higgs has worked, alongside his daughter, to create programming which he believes will help mitigate youth violence.

"Just going to the root of the problem and seeing how we're thinking is one of the first things we want to do," Alasha said. "I feel like that's going to be the biggest part of this program. Really just getting in their head, seeing how they're thinking and how we can change that."

Higgs said coming from a similar background helps him relate to troubled youth and show them there is more to life.

"Myself, just like many others, are tired of turning on the news and seeing all the different violence," Higgs said. "The different things happening with guns, different things that are happening with gangs and drugs."

Higgs said the goal of his nonprofit is to make sure people have the tools and resources to solve any issue they are going through.

He plans to start introducing it to the community and city leaders after he graduates on Saturday.

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