Recently, 23 inmates at a prison in California became college graduates.
They were all participants of the first ever Cal State graduation ceremony held inside a state prison.
“None of us thought this would be possible and we faced a lot of adversity in our lives and in here,” Aaron Benson, a graduate, said. “I’m so proud of everybody.”
Previously students were able to earn their associate’s degree while in prison, but through a new partnership with Cal State LA, students are now able to earn their bachelor’s degrees.
Those like Jason Keaton, a recent graduate, who are enrolled in the program earn a degree in communication studies.
Assistant professor Kamran Afary, who has been teaching both in-person and remotely since 2017, said it’s been incredible to watch the students’ transformation.
“It’s an unbelievable moment.”
When the inmates are released, they will be able to plan for their future, one that will hopefully not have them return to prison.
“It’s upon me to get myself together and then go back to the community that I helped tear down, and help build that community up,” Keaton said.
I think this is a great idea! We expect those who are in prison to be functioning members of society when they get out, yet we don’t provide them with all the necessary resources when they’re in prison.
It would be awesome if other colleges and prisons partnered to form a similar program.
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