Associate degrees

Students in Campbell’s First Prison Education Program Earn Associate’s Degrees – News

CLINTON – Kevin Cook battled nerves and the graduation tassel swaying before his eyes as he spoke on behalf of his 10 classmates to the small crowd that had gathered for the first launch ceremony of the Campbell University Correctional Education Program at the Sampson Correctional Facility on Tuesday.

But he pulled those nerves — and the glans aside — to deliver a message about resilience, something he and the prison class of 2021 badly needed to get through the two-year program while not only dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19, but the many other challenges of prison life. From small obstacles like lack of internet access and sometimes limited access to supplies to bigger obstacles like resentment from other incarcerated men and those who oppose the idea of ​​educating convicted felons – Cook said said it took resilience and the support of many to make Tuesday’s ceremony a reality.

“We faced monumental pressure, but we got back on our feet,” the Greensboro native said. “We learn from our past mistakes and succeed in the chaos created by our current environment. To each of you involved [in the program] …you left an indelible mark on my life and inspired me to aim for the stars.

Campbell awarded 11 associate of science degrees to the 11 men who were part of the first cohort of students in a program launched by the University, the Bob Barker Foundation and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety in 2019. The goal of the program is to educate convict offenders and provide degrees that would not only lead to future employment and long-term careers, but would also significantly reduce the recidivism rate of men incarcerated in the prison system. State.


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The Associate of Science degree program emphasizes preparing men for admission into a four-year bachelor’s degree program that will help them succeed after release. It emphasizes academic rigor, faith development, critical thinking, writing, math, and other life skills to encourage them to lead productive lives.

Bob Barker (’64), whose Bob Barker Company produces the world’s largest inventory of detention center supplies and whose foundation was established to reduce recidivism and prepare men and women for successful reintegration into society , was the keynote speaker on Tuesday. Barker called the ceremony “historic” and the men “pioneering.”

“And we hope many more will follow in your footsteps,” he told the group of 11 men, who were seated in front of about 20 others who are currently in their first year of the program. “What you have done is show everyone that a university degree can be obtained in a prison environment. The state legislature believes in this program and gave us the funds to expand it to a four-year program. If you hadn’t been successful, I don’t think we would have gotten that support. Be proud of the work you have done. Many people rely on you.

Dr. Rick Smith, campus superintendent at Sampson Correctional Facility, said he believed in this group and recalled seeing them tearing up new books and resources when they were provided.

“You were excited for new information,” he said. “I’ve seen you use torn envelopes for study sheets when the sheets weren’t available.” I knew early on that we had something special. I had high expectations for you, and you took the opportunity given to you and ran with it.

President J. Bradley Creed spoke of restoration as an important theme in the Judeo-Christian mission.

“We are here to educate students to live a life of meaningful service,” Creed said. “That has been our prayer since the beginning of this program. Looking into the eyes of these students, I am convinced that we are succeeding. I know how difficult it was. I know who your teachers are. And I know you got those degrees.