Which Degree did you take?
I have spent the last two years working on my Associates Degree in Applied Science: Business, which was done through Jackson College.
Which College did you take your Degree at?
Jackson College. The college professors would come into the prison to take our classes. We would do night classes which lasted for three hours a night. We would take notes at lectures, take tests and do projects.
Which parts of your degree did you find most difficult?
The hardest part of my course was the Mathematics and Statistics sections. Although my Professor, Mrs Fellows, was great and walked us through every step. We also have some student tutors, including fellow inmate Todd Griffen who spent hours each week helping to tutor us in Maths. One of the things that made the course more difficult was the fact that we do not have access to the internet or computers to do proper research for our projects.
Another difficulty facing inmates who want to take a degree, especially those inmates who have longer than 8 years left on their sentence is that face that they are not eligible for any grants to help pay for their education. Therefore I have to pay out of pocket nearly 800 dollars per 5 credits. I have been very blessed because I have taken a few semesters at 11 credits per semester so my sponsors have looked out for me. Most of the lifers in school can only do one or two classes per semester. I really got to see what I was made of during those heavy load semesters but it taught me a lot about myself and even more about how important good study habits are and self-discipline is.
Which parts of your degree did you enjoy the most?
I very much enjoyed my Business classes, and through hard work and study, I have been able to to keep a 4.0 GPA which I am very proud of.
What opportunities has your further education given to you?
Through working with the College staff during this degree process, I know a Jackson College Student Ambassador, as well as a Teachers Aide for the following classes: Computer Information Systems, Psychology, and Physical Geography. To be a TA you have to be handpicked by the professor and have a 4.0 GPA in the class you are assisting in. Then as a Jackson College Student Ambassador, I represent the college help pass books out, help register people for classes as well as some light student advisory work. This gives me a purpose in an area I believe in – which is education behind bars.
Do you have any plans to go further with your education?
I plan to keep studying hard and once this Business is completed, to do a degree in the Arts sector. I would also like to Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, as well as some Project Management certificates to round out my knowledge.
What would you like to do with your Education if you were in the Free World?
I want to work in urban development and create cheap tiny homes in shipping containers for low-income families. I will have the skills to market ideas that help the community I once violated with my antisocial behaviour. My education is about giving me the skill set I need to make those dreams a reality. To me having those dreams is not enough without the skill set to make those dreams a reality. Education is so important because it gifts us with those skills and opens our minds to a world full of possibilities. Education has to be the focal point of all urban development projects, affordable housing is not enough if there are no programs to help those low-income families climb out of poverty to a place where success can become generational. I envision tiny home communities in the inner city that are coupled with learning centres and guided assistance to get people into college and vocational trades without saddling them with more debt which in turn creates more poverty.
That is my dream. For me, empathy and rehabilitation are empty words if convicts don’t take actions to make our communities better places. My rehabilitation has no value to me or society unless I can find a way to atone for my past misdeeds. I have an inner need to balance the scales, to repay my debt to society with action. I knew I needed education to effectively give back and Jackson College and my sponsors who paid for my education gave me that opportunity.