Career Moves: From homeless to hopeful

It is never too late to find your passion and your career.

Whether you’re a first-time or returning student, everyone can find help and support at any University of Hawaii Community College across the state.

Robert Binney was living on the streets until he decided to take control of his life. With support through the UHCC system, he has been able to turn his life around.

“I was so resistant to getting off the streets. Once I was in the streets, it’s like so hard to get out. But I went into recovery and IHS (the Institute for Human Services) helped me dramatically. I started taking classes, I quit smoking, which was really difficult,” he said. “It was just taking responsibility for myself and not blaming other people for my resentments.”

Binney says the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation helped him get into Kapiolani Community College. The transition was challenging and intimidating.

“I’m from a completely different hostile environment,” he said. “The transformation — it happened, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fast.”

Binney attributes much of his success to a strong support system.

“Almost all of my major decisions are taken as suggestions, because if I did what I wanted to do, I’d be back on the streets,” he said. “It goes so much deeper than just what you wear, where you go, what you say. It’s more like how you think.”

Binney is currently studying Occupational and Environmental Safety Management and hopes to find a job in that field.

His advice for others who may be in a similar situation?

“It’s very difficult to make that first step, and that’s to get a counselor,” he said. “That first step is just to reach out one time, and that’s what I did, and the rewards have been so, just non-ending rewards. Every time I turn around a corner, something awesome happens for me, over and over and over.”

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