June 24, 2022

Cheyney Alum Dr. Hakim Stovall: Helping Others Realize a Positive Path Forward

Cheyney Alum Dr. Hakim Stovall: Helping Others Realize a Positive Path Forward

Cheyney University alum Dr. Hakim Stovall’s career path has come full circle. Beginning as an intern in the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office at age 16, and spending nine years as a correctional officer while continuing his studies, he has now accepted a high-level role with the Washington, DC Medical Examiner’s Office as a Fatality Review Specialist.

Whether it has been academics or profession, Stovall has always sought to reach the next level. This relentless motivation has allowed him to fulfill his passion for helping others access essential resources so they can have a better path forward.

Stovall earned a B.A. in social relations with a concentration in criminal justice in 2000 and a M.S. in adult education in 2004. He credits Cheyney for creating the foundation upon which he combined his goals with his passion, becoming the first African American male to complete Wilmington University’s Prevention Science Doctoral Program. The program combines educational achievements with real-world experience to find answers to some of the most challenging issues facing our society.

His dissertation was titled, “Tertiary Prevention: Recidivism Reduction and the Effectiveness of Reentry Agency Impact.” He studied the effectiveness of community programs and how supports, such as housing, employment, transportation, childcare and access to food, could help individuals within targeted populations. His conclusion: these programs are necessities to help individuals overcome societal issues and be successful.

“The focus of prevention science is the study of different populations,” said Stovall. “The goal was to identify strategies that can be used to mitigate societal issues, such as recidivism prevention, gun violence, opioid abuse – and how all of these have been impacted by COVID-19.”

Achieving academic accolades is only part of the equation for Stovall’s success. His professional path has included positions in social services, medical examination, and nine years as a correctional officer for the DC Department of Corrections. He worked full-time in corrections while completing the Wilmington doctoral program.

“I worked with the intake process and helped identify barriers for individuals as they were entering the system,” said Stovall. “I wanted to be part of the movement that was giving inmates opportunities and second chances and be part of community integration. I wanted to learn how the system works and gauge career perspectives moving forward.”

His work helped him realize the potential of reentry and recidivism. While applying newly attained knowledge within a professional setting, he successfully implemented the findings from his studies into real-world practice.

Stovall was initially interested in pursuing work in a field that involved law enforcement even before he enrolled at Cheyney. As a high school intern in the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office, he saw firsthand the relationship other agencies have with law enforcement. After earning his bachelor’s degree at Cheyney, he accepted a position as a substance abuse case manager with a non-profit organization in Philadelphia. He helped individuals with substance abuse, reentry and mental health. It was through this work that he began to understand the evolution of human services and the various entities involved with the criminal justice system.

“Throughout this process, I came across different programs that encouraged me to go into the adult education perspective, including recovery and workforce initiatives,” said Stovall. “I wanted to be part of the training and education for the targeted population I was helping to serve. I wanted to help individuals become more self-sufficient.”

While working at another Philadelphia-based non-profit as a community support specialist, Stovall returned to Cheyney and earned his master’s degree. Furthering his education while building his professional experience opened more doors for him into human services and reentry services. Stovall credits Cheyney’s network of professionals and support system for helping him to always reach the next level.

“You develop a bond with many individuals while at Cheyney. The experience is unreal,” said Stovall. “I still have a relationship with people I met as a freshman through post-graduation. We operate within a brotherly and sisterly perspective. Everyone still sticks together and supports each other.”

The Stovall family is part of Cheyney’s legacy. Hakim’s dad, Gary, and two brothers, Omar and Jamal, are proud Cheyney graduates. Gary was a non-traditional student and graduated with the same class as Omar. The family has always made education a top priority.

“Hakim was a very hard worker. He was always concerned with achieving good grades and would stay behind classes and discuss his interests with his professors,” said Dr. Vincent Miles, Professor of Social Relations. “I knew Cheyney was not the end of the road for him.

Dr. Miles continued, “Hakim was driven by research. He kept me in the loop after he graduated from Cheyney and would contact me with questions about his work and thoughts on his doctorate program. He applied real-life experiences and never compromised what he learned through his profession and research. He always stuck to it and faced challenges head on.”

As for his new job with the DC Medical Examiner’s Office, Stovall said, “I feel that I have learned so much that I can bring effective strategies to the ME’s Office.”

Looking back on his academic and professional experience, Stovall is most grateful for his ability to connect with individuals young and old, maintaining the same passion throughout this time. Most importantly, he wants the Cheyney community to know they will always have a support system.

“It warms my heart to have the feeling of supporting individuals who want to find their passion by starting at Cheyney,” said Stovall. “We are a family that can help each other navigate in the direction we want to go.”