“Once I became settled down and focused, I told myself, I’m going to do everything I possibly can to better myself.”

Raashed Hall left prison with a patent. Thanks to an incredible new program in Washington D.C. he was given the tools to conceive and execute his product idea– against all odds.

Hall now works as a personal trainer with around 100 clients, and is the inventor of what he calls the “Power Push-Up–” a device that uses blocks and adjustable tension straps to add resistance to the traditional push-up. However, his route to get there was not an easy one, and will leave you inspired.

In his early twenties, Hall found himself in a tragic and unfortunate situation. After a stray bullet he fired at another person claimed the life of a little girl, he pleaded guilty to the crime, and served 17 years in prison.

Though he lost his twenties and much of this thirties to the sentence, he did not let that stop him from self-improvement, or let it define who he is. Hall says he decided to change his life when he was inside those prison walls, and he did just that.

Raashed Committed Himself to Changing His Life

Enter the Georgetown Pivot Program, a relatively new initiative run by Executive Director Alyssa Lovegrove. After committing to self-improvement while in prison, Hall was accepted to the program–which aims to support transition to the professional world after incarceration.

Designed in partnership with the DC Department of Employment Services and delivered by Georgetown faculty, the Pivot Program is a one-year transition and re-entry program that blends academic work and supported employment, and one that allowed Hall to take his product idea to the next level.

Lovegrove said the nine-month program gives those returning from incarceration business and life skills to help them add value to society. After a final 15-week internship, fellows leave the program with a certificate, which provides hands-on experience outside the classroom.

Lovegrove said the Georgetown Pivot Program usually has about 100 to 150 yearly applicants, but only accepts about 20 fellows into a cohort each year.

Raashed Hall was one of those accepted fellows, thanks to a product he conceived while in prison. While serving time, he conceived the Power Push Up, even designing and testing a prototype.

Not only did Hall come up with the design while serving time, he also started the patent process behind bars. Hall said that while other inmates would offer their services, like helping to draw or write, he used whatever materials were available to him to create his first prototype for the Power Push Up, which was made of pieces of wood and a buckle.

“I would spend hours, upon hours, upon hours, just thinking of new ways to innovate what we had,” Hall told local news.

Extreme Perseverance Can Get You Anywhere

Fast forward five years from that initial prototype, and he now has three working prototypes, and crucial experience speaking to other founders, fundraising, and navigating a new professional world thanks to the Pilot Program.

The next steps for his product involved him taking his invention to compete in the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Program against business students from all over the university. After that, the idea hopefully moves into the production phase.

Though the program does offer crucial experience and practical help in production, perhaps the most effective aspect gained is simply confidence.

In a testimony for the program, Hall shared: “…prison affects your confidence in a negative way. You have to constantly affirm to yourself that even though XYZ happened, this is not going to define who I am. No one’s going to define my future. I can tell one of my clients at the gym that I go to a business school in Georgetown. When people view you differently, it does something to my confidence. It makes me proud having at least gotten my foot in the door.”

Hall’s story is one of extreme perseverance, against even the most defeating circumstance. He has dreams of his own personal training business, and thanks to the Pilot program is that much closer to achieving it. However, he would have never gotten close had he not believed in himself. Next time you feel self-doubt creeping in, remember the story of Raashed.

“I always told myself, every day, I can do this, I can do something great, I can do something positive,” Hall said.