1230, 07292023 (Day #4231)
Yesterday I began a new FSA program, “Soldier On”, a Veterans Resilience group. I appreciate opportunities to share experiences and insights with other veterans. I take in their insight and experiences, what they learned in the military, and look for ways to integrate what they do into my efforts.
The common theme among veterans is service to the country and others. My parents instilled in me the importance of service to country and giving back to others before I went to military school. Although I went off-track from that for a bit, I have clear goals in my long-term plans for service to others.
I am currently an undergraduate student at Adams State University, working towards a bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. The road to college education in prison is riddled with potholes. It is expensive, and although Pell Grant eligibility for the incarcerated population was recently restored, two of the schools that offer the most choices for coursework within the policy requirements of the BOP, Adams State, and Colorado State University-Pueblo, have declined acceptance of Pell Grants for FBOP students. Students are left with limited options to pay for coursework – pay out of pocket, financial support from family and friends, or scholarships. Prospective students who don’t have these options are left out, though.
Research has validated the benefits of prison education. Prison education is loaded with upsides for everyone. Students learn critical thinking, make better choices, while in prison, and are less likely to encounter disciplinary action. Prison education improves their post-release outcomes: better employment opportunities = more stable housing, improved self-esteem, and more stable and healthy relationships equate to reduced recidivism. The community benefits by gaining a productive and constructive, law-abiding citizen.
I was fortunate and grateful to have been awarded a scholarship last year that covered the costs of one course. Others who don’t have the means or financial support from family or friends are left out, though. My long-term goal of giving back, advocating for, and service to others, inspired me to create an ACE course here, College Correspondence Courses 101, to explain the ins and outs of college education in prison. I wrote the syllabus and lesson plan, and I teach the course. I’m hopeful that by providing students with the who, what, when, where, why, and how, they’ll learn the benefits of education and motivate them to find options to overcome the financial obstacle and pursue a college education. The near-term benefit for me is a sense of fulfillment from helping others improve themselves, along with some sense of accomplishment that I’m working towards as one of my long-term goals.
What I’ve done is not who I am.