Jan. 26, 2024 – Cocaine addiction, sexual abuse, a robbery conviction and prison time as far away as Kentucky is an incredibly difficult journey to survive. But the story of Kimberly Villegas is not just a story of survival. It is a story of redemption and determination. After decades of struggling with alcohol and drug abuse and time in and out of prisons, with the help of the University of Hawai‘i at Maui College and its partners, Villegas has become a working Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC) and is helping others to find sobriety.

“I come from a lineage of alcoholics and addicts. I wasn’t given the opportunity to learn the basics of life,” said Villegas, who was also sexually abused as a child. ”I started using—I started drinking and using drugs at a young age. I started drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana when I was 11. I had my first baby when I was 14.”