Forgiveness after felony speaker gives keynote address at CFCC ceremony

Forgiveness after felony speaker gives keynote address at CFCC ceremony
Published: Apr. 18, 2018 at 7:35 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 18, 2018 at 10:15 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Labels have been placed on Warria Ricks for most of her life. The latest one she can add to her resume is keynote speaker.

Ricks gave the keynote address at Cape Fear Community College's second annual Community Engagement Awards celebration on Wednesday.

She was honored for paving a path to success through service-based learning, and gave a moving speech without any notes or cues.

Even though she was honored by an institution of higher education, Ricks says much of society still treats her like a second-class citizen.

"It's like nobody believes there is a second chance," she said. "Nobody believes you can be given a second chance. But I'm not going to let that stop me from doing what I believe I need to do in my heart."

Just this week, Ricks contacted the Innocence Project and the North Carolina Second Chance Alliance as she struggles to find employment and desperately wants a job.

"Really bad. Really, really bad. I keep applying, and applying," she said.

She has refused to let her felony conviction define her, instead using her struggles as motivation.

"If I have to be that voice to help people that are going through what I'm going through, which is having this felony following them, then I'm ready to take a stand for not myself but for other people because the sky is not the limit," Ricks said.

She hopes future employers will recognize her potential like many of her CFCC professors did.

"They looked beyond my barriers, looked beyond what I was led to tell them about my past, and saw my heart," Ricks said. "They saw my potential.

"One time I couldn't see where I was, but they saw where I could go and they kept pushing me until I finally saw what they saw in me."

Ricks will soon graduate with her second bachelor's degree in two years, and has been accepted into a master's program for the coming fall semester.

She was charged with accessory after the fact 14 years ago after her ex-husband beat her 4-year-old son to death. The judge claimed Ricks knew about the abuse.

She says she had no idea.

The road to finding herself has not been an easy one, but she credits much of her success to God, CFCC, and her mentors at Step Up Wilmington.

She plans to continue her education through a doctorate degree, and eventually start an organization dedicated to helping women and children in domestic abuse situations.

Copyright 2018 WECT. All rights reserved.