Seven inmates in Connecticut completed their college degree programs and were handed their diplomas this month as part of a joint project between Yale and the University of New Haven.
The inmates were part of the Yale Prison Education Initiative and the University of New Haven's Prison Education Program. So far, the program has enrolled 70 students in courses for college credit.
More than 130 faculty members, staff and graduate students have been involved in educating the students.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont was the commencement speaker and said this was among the most moving graduation ceremonies he has attended.
"I loved hearing the pride you have in yourselves and what this ceremony is all about," he said. "I heard from most of you that you define your own futures. You learn from the past, but you define your futures. I believe so much in this program and what it means."
The Yale Prison Education Institute started teaching courses to incarcerated students at Manson Youth Institution in May 2018. The program expanded in 2021 when the University of New Haven joined. Together, the universities created a degree-granting program for inmates.
Those who completed the program were awarded an associate degree in general studies.
Alpha Jalloh had the class's top GPA. He is incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution.
"I stand here proudly, but sadly, as the first person among my group of friends to earn a higher degree," Jalloh said, according to a press release. "This program has enabled us to dream in different ways we never thought possible. It nourishes the soul and pushes us to find our place in this world."
Those in the program are also able to seek bachelor's degrees.
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