SPRINGFIELD — Aesha Mu’min, a 2019 American International College (AIC) alumna of the clinical psychology graduate-degree program, and current doctoral student in the mental health counseling program, was recently named a 100 Women of Color class of 2020 award recipient. The gala and awards event recognizes the contributions that women in business, education, entrepreneurship, entertainment, and service have made to impact the lives of people throughout their communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Mu’min was selected to the 2020 cohort of awardees because of her dedication to and innovative work as a deputy warden in the Connecticut Department of Corrections.
“Recognizing the need to provide opportunities for healing and personal and professional growth for an often-forgotten and marginalized population, Mu’min creates systemic change,” said Jennifer Wilder, a 100 Women of Color honoree in 2015, who presented the award to Mu’min. “She works tirelessly — even on her days off — to support the evolution of a re-entry program that prepares men for a more intentional return to their respective communities.
The nominating committee cited Mu’min’s work to ensure that fathers are able to create and maintain secure attachments to their children in particular, noting that “it is no secret that children of incarcerated citizens experience trauma. Working with community partners to redesign the visitation room to be family-friendly, holding parenting classes, and self-help seminars are all central to development of stronger fathers, thus stronger children. The work that she does is a model for the reform of correction facilities both near and far.”
In November 2019, Mu’min was integral in piloting the equine-assisted psychotherapy sessions offered by Operation Warrior Horse, a 10-week program housed in the 110-bed unit for military veterans at the Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution in Enfield, Conn. The program offered inmates an opportunity to meet with therapists and interact with horses in the prison yard for two hours each week. Operating at no cost to the state, the program was sponsored by Healing Hoofbeats of Connecticut. While similar correctional programs utilize equine therapy, this was the first such program to be tailored to the needs of incarcerated military veterans.
Of being named a 100 Women of Color award recipient, Mu’min said, “it was an event that inspired me to keep challenging myself to make positive contributions to all that I can.”
The purpose of the annual event is to provide financial support for programs that advance young men and women of color. A portion of the proceeds support scholarships for young men and women who graduate from high school and plan on attending college, as well as leadership and mentorship programs.