fbpx Felix Rosado Shares Inspirational Journey from Incarcerated to College Professor as He Joins CHC to Educate on Restorative Justice | Chestnut Hill College Skip to content Skip to navigation

Felix Rosado Shares Inspirational Journey from Incarcerated to College Professor as He Joins CHC to Educate on Restorative Justice

Felix Rosado Shares Inspirational Journey from Incarcerated to College Professor as He Joins CHC to Educate on Restorative Justice

Felix Rosado and his students pose for a photo during one of their Restorative Justive courses.


Felix Rosado joins the Chestnut Hill College community as an inspiring and unconventional adjunct professor. Just two years ago he was serving a sentence of death by incarceration (more commonly known as life without parole), from which he was freed via governor clemency after 27 years. Rosado said that while incarcerated, he rediscovered his Catholic faith, was introduced to the concept of restorative justice, and sought to make amends for his crime by educating and serving others. Rosado finished teaching two courses this spring semester on restorative justice under the Justice Studies Department. Lauren Barrow Ph.D., Chair, Center for Education, Advocacy & Social Justice and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice first met Rosado at a training 10 years ago through Inside-Out. The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program facilitates dialogue and education across profound social differences—through courses held inside prison, involving students from a higher education setting and incarcerated students.

“I was first introduced to the visceral and emotional power of restorative justice when I started at Chestnut Hill College in 2011. One year later, during my week-long training for Inside-Out at SCI-Graterford, I met Felix the first time. So, when he reached out to me last semester regarding the departmental search for a new restorative justice instructor, it was an easy "Yes!" to bringing him on board. I had no doubt he would impact CHC students in all the right ways, and he has not disappointed. He and his class have encouraged and empowered our students to envision themselves as real changemakers,” says Barrow. This is the first time Rosado has taken the experiential-learning workshop he created via Let’s Circle Up at Graterford State Prison to a college classroom. Let’s Circle Up focuses on the invaluable worth in the lived experience of everyone who sits in their circles to talk about restorative justice and what it can look like. “It’s been a joy and a gift to teach these courses at CHC. This is the first time I’ve adapted the workshops I’ve done to include readings and essays that stretch out for 14-week semester,” says Rosado. Rosado emphasizes his alignment with the College’s core values, especially pertaining to the pursuit of just relationships with his values of restorative justice. “Both stress the interconnectedness of all people and the importance of repairing harm in relationships when it occurs. Additionally, these values advocate for the proactive building of positive relationships to prevent harm,” says Rosado.

With those core values in mind, Rosado highlights that he uses a transformative educational approach focused on building community and prioritizing relationships. He emphasizes creating a space where students feel comfortable being open and vulnerable, facilitating discussions rather than lecturing. This approach, influenced by Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Friere, aims to draw out students' existing knowledge and wisdom rather than simply imparting information. Rosado’s philosophy and pedagogy were shaped through his experience with Inside-Out and Let’s Circle Up inside prison.

Sarah Somers ‘24 noted that her experience in class made her closer to her peers. “Professor Felix’s class helped me build connections with peers who I have had other classes with since my freshman year of college. It wasn’t until his class I was able to get to know them on a deeper level. We were able to open up with one another without any judgment. Professor Felix created a space where everyone felt comfortable to share their stories.”

Jonathan Oister ‘24 was impressed with Rosado’s class. “This class has had a huge influence on my career aspirations. While working in a juvenile detention facility, this class has been a reliable framework in assisting my approach with the residents. While working at a detention facility can be extremely difficult, this class has allowed me to implement the community building and community circles into the schedule for the residents. It has encouraged me to take an approach to guide them in reflecting on their actions and decisions throughout their time at the facility. Not only has this class assisted me in implementing the curriculum but it has educated me about a solution I can utilize when experiencing difficult situations in my career field.”

Outside of teaching, Rosado works as Program Manager of Healing Futures, a youth restorative justice diversion program at YASP (Youth Art and Self-Empowerment Project). Healing Futures receives referrals from the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office of young people who have been arrested for various crimes and facilitates restorative justice processes that bring together the harmed parties and those who caused harm. Through weeks of preparation, both sides are guided to understand each other's perspectives, leading to crafting apology letters and developing restorative plans. This process results in the dismissal of charges. For Rosado, both jobs are a natural extension of his experiences.

“My biggest takeaway from this class is that justice looks different for everyone. Justice doesn’t have to look like what we traditionally see it as, or I should say we’re conditioned to see justice as. Professor Felix’s class taught me that healing harm shouldn’t be one-sided. Healing takes all those involved in harm to reconcile and try to repair that relationship as best as possible,” says Somers.

"If you wanna learn more about yourself and what it means to be human in a world laden with harm, restorative justice is not only a philosophy of practices, but a lifestyle that applies everywhere. This might seem like something that is about ‘criminal justice,’ but in reality, it’s just a way of life we should all learn about and practice.” says Rosado.

Posted In: Academic News