Dec. 30, 2019 (Niantic, Conn.) — Seven women incarcerated at the York Correctional Institution earned Middlesex Community College associate degrees during commencement exercises on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. The ceremony was held at the correctional facility located in Niantic, Conn. The educational program is a partnership with Middlesex Community College (MxCC) and the Center for Prison Education at Wesleyan University.
“Middlesex is proud to be a partner with Wesleyan University in providing a rigorous liberal arts collegiate program through the Center for Prison Education. The seven students who completed their associate degrees while being incarcerated at York is nothing short of remarkable and inspirational,” said Steven Minkler, MxCC’s campus CEO, who presided at the ceremony.
MxCC Dean of Administration Kimberly Hogan conferred the Associate in Science degrees in General Studies to graduates Lissette Chiclana, Ashley Howard, Carrie Jones, Robin Ledbetter, Krista Pikora, Tracy Shumaker and Sara Van Deusen.
Shumaker gave the student address, and York Warden Sharonda Carlos also provided remarks.
Cindy Rodriguez, urban policy reporter at New York Public Radio, delivered the commencement address. Most recently, Rodriguez was part of the production of “Caught,” an award-winning podcast that documents the relationship between mass incarceration and the juvenile justice system.
“The Center for Prison Education is but one step on these students’ journeys to academic excellence and personal renewal. This program sharpens critical thinking and communications skills; builds self-confidence; and unlocks human potential,” added Minkler.
This public-private college in prison partnership is the first of its kind in Connecticut and was selected as a Second Chance Pell Site, a historic initiative that returns federal funds to college in prison for the first time since 1994.
Since 2009, the Center for Prison Education has been a leader of higher education in prison in the state of Connecticut. The program brings the transformative power of the liberal arts into Cheshire and York Correctional Institutions, offering incarcerated people the opportunity to take rigorous college courses. In 2016, Wesleyan University partnered with Middlesex Community College to introduce a degree component to the program whereby students take a combination of coursework that spans the liberal arts and culminates in a Middlesex Associate in Science degree in General Studies.
Since 1966, Middlesex Community College has provided high-quality, affordable, and accessible education to a diverse population, enhancing the strengths of individuals through degree, certificate, and lifelong learning programs that lead to university transfer, employment, and an enriched awareness of our shared responsibilities as global citizens. A part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, MxCC offers more than 70 degree or certificate programs at the 38-acre campus in Middletown, MxCC@Platt in Meriden, and online.