I have shared with you much of my experiences and my story. So what does this all mean for me now? I’m educated, now what? Now, it is time to apply what I have learned and do my part to make sure others have the opportunity to transform their failures into success. Now it’s time for me to make an honest living for myself. It’s time for me to move past my disadvantaged background and history of incarceration and get the most out of life.
When it comes to issues such as criminality, incarceration and recidivism, people often put the responsibility on individuals. Society often places labels on people who end up in prison and those labels are usually nothing nice. There are people out there who see us as worthless scum. There are people out there who don’t want to see us succeed. It is time to change that. Research says that obtaining a post-secondary education is a key to preventing recidivism. The people who earn college degrees while in prison or once released will have far more opportunities and a way lower chance of returning to prison than the average person who is released from prison. We have a chance here to help demonstrate that people can and will change when provided the opportunity and that having a felony record as someone who comes from a disadvantaged background says more about your conditions and circumstances than it does about you.
Some people might complete this workshop and decide that college is not for them. Someone else might turn this experience into a doctorate degree. Others might become a statistic and fail to graduate after attending college for some amount of time. The outcome and your future are in your hands. You get to decide how far you take this. You have to decide how serious you are about your education. There are sacrifices to be made. Not everyone can and will be successful. This is not for everybody. For those of us who just can’t picture themselves succeeding as a college student there are always other options. If you are not all in and ready to commit your time and effort then now is not the time for you.
My biggest education related goal was to become a productive member of society. I didn’t feel like I personally could have been very productive without an education. I don’t want to live a boring life and work at some job that I hate every day. I also don’t want to be trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty and incarceration. I want a savings account. I want a nice home to raise my kids in. I want to be a role model and inspiration for others. While my goals do not have to be your goals, these are the things you can and will achieve if you are successful in earning an education.
You don’t have to be a straight A student. You don’t need a 4.0 GPA every quarter. To be honest, a C average and 2.0 GPA will get you the same degree that an A average and 4.0 will get you. However, if you plan on transferring to a four-year school or being competitive for scholarships that’s when grades really matter the most. The best advice I could give you is to always give it your all. Never settle. Don’t be that student who knows they aren’t putting in the effort but still expects to succeed. Be the student who knows they are going to succeed because you are putting in the effort. There are airheads with a 4.0 GPA and really smart people struggling and often failing to earn their degree. While your level of intelligence will definitely play a role it is not the sole factor in determining your success. Use this time to develop a strong work ethic if you don’t already have one. I know I didn’t.
I am very excited to see where your journey takes you and I am glad that I could play a role in helping you prepare! Good luck!