California Inmates Earn Bachelor’s Degree While Incarcerated

In Summary

25 students, who were part of a program at California State University, Los Angeles, celebrated their achievement at the California State Prison.

On Oct. 5, a group of 25 students currently behind bars in the California State Prison earned their bachelor’s degrees, according to CNN

They were part of a program at California State University, Los Angeles which allows people who are incarcerated to earn their bachelor’s degrees in communication. These 25 students celebrated their achievements in a commencement ceremony in the prison yard, according to CNN. 

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“Today, an education to me, means freedom, redemption, and opportunity,” said graduate Dara Yin during his student address at the ceremony, according to a Cal State LA press release. “The freedom to create better lives. A redeeming quality in the sense that we can step out of an identity that was destructive and into the person our mothers always meant for us to be. The opportunity to show that we are not our worst decisions, that we crave to be a part of the larger society so that we can put to use our unique combination of lived experience and education.” 

Cal State LA’s Prison B.A. Initiative was created in 2016 and is the state’s first-ever in-person bachelor’s program administered inside the prison, according to the university. Thirty-seven students, who are currently and formerly incarcerated, have completed the program with college degrees. 

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“I am struck by the resilience and dedication you have demonstrated as you embarked on your educational journey,” Cal State LA Provost and Executive Vice President Jose A. Gomez said at the ceremony, according to the press release. “You didn’t give up, you didn’t quit. I speak for everyone at Cal State LA—the faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and our community—when I say that we are so proud of you.” 

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