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An Interview with Jeremiah Kitavi About the Importance of Maintaining Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Health



Jeremiah Kitavi is a Junior at Sonoma State University, majoring in Sociology. Born and raised in the Bay Area of California, he is currently developing himself to be of service to others in various ways in his community. He volunteers his time helping youth in his community by discussing mental health and assisting juveniles that are willing to make a positive change in their lives.

Jeremiah Kitavi’s plans to be a future advocate in the field of criminal justice reform and rehabilitation, with his ultimate goal being to initiate a purposeful means of support for inmates transitioning back into society. His vision is for all criminal rehabilitation efforts to support the mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of each individual inmate in order to promote genuine reform and facilitate their ability to contribute to society in a positive way.


Why did you select sociology as your major in college?

I chose sociology to have a better understanding of society and how to find ways to assist in issues affecting different groups of people. 


Where are you hoping to take your sociology degree?

My focus is on criminal justice reform and rehabilitation. In America, we have 4% of the world’s population, but 25% of the incarcerated people. This is not a good number since the U.S is the leader of the free world. European countries like Norway for example focus on reform and rehabilitation and have a very low prison/jail population per capita in comparison to the U.S. It is obvious that our politicians and society as a whole don’t care about this issue which leads to more issues in many communities especially those of color. 


What draws you to this kind of reform? And how would you encourage others to join you in this cause?

Throughout my college journey I have had opportunities to meet various types of people, some of those include with prior records. Many of them are good people with non violent offenses and are trying to rebuild their lives and have had much success. I believe these people are very valuable since a lot of them can relate to other people that might or who have already gone down a similar path. 


Is there one recommendation you would choose to apply to criminal rehabilitation? 

I would recommend some level of mental health reform applied universally to the nation’s network of criminal rehab facilities. Therapy is a positive solution for everyone. It provides the tools and knowledge to deal with many problems properly, such as controversy, diversity, understanding of society, and how to fully and successfully reintegrate within society. 


Who has been a role model to you? And why?

Malcolm X has been a big influence in my life. He made some mistakes at a young age, but as he grew older, he started to encourage people with ideas of reform. He had a higher belief in creating a greater, more balanced society. That impresses me. I look up to him because he grew up in a time of great racism and it was very real and in his face. But he still kept pushing for a better society. He acknowledged his flaws, but he kept growing as a human being. It is very encouraging to think that even though he only had a sixth-grade education, he spoke about the problems in society and made an impact. Until the day he was assassinated , he tried to better and uplift people. Many people  have a negative perception of him, but for me, the inspiration comes from the fact that he spent time in prison and reformed himself. To this day, he is still influencing people to become intellectually intelligent, become more self-aware, and strive to be better to others. Those are the values I want to reflect in my life.


How do you maintain a balance between work, school, and personal life?

For starters one thing that took me a long time to understand is that we are only given 24 hours in a day. Oftentimes, especially younger people assume that tomorrow will be there. None of us know the day we will leave this world so it is important to do whatever needs to be done in one day. It is vital to be aware of our mortality and how fragile life truly is. I believe if more people develop this mindset that is devoted towards good productive things, we will see better overall happiness but it requires tremendous work. 


Can you share your proudest moment? So far? professional or personal?

Great Question. I would say probably just being involved in my community helping youth. I have personally volunteered time in numerous ways to help youth become better citizens. With the rise of mental health issues in the United States among youth it is imperative that we set up the upcoming generations to be better than the last. 


What is a piece of advice you have never forgotten?

Anything worth having in life is difficult to attain. If it is too easy, it will not sustain itself.


What does success look like to you?

Success is very subjective. For me it has meant recognizing my flaws and correcting them. Being open minded and willing to learn new things is success to me. 

Scarlet Logan is a marketing professional who loves writing. She graduated with a double major in journalism and economics.