A Second Chance in Business

NFNRC – January 2020


“College has made me realize that I am able to do things I never thought possible before,” says L, who takes business classes through Lassen College’s incarcerated student program.

Currently earning an associate in business with dreams of going on to get his bachelor’s, L says he’s had to work hard in his classes, and he’s proud of his grades. “Mr. Rupley and Mrs. Haynes had the biggest impact on me,” he relates. “They were also a constant source of encouragement and fans of my successes.”

L tutors GED students in math and English at the prison, and he says it’s possible because of the infusion of self-confidence and hope he’s received from his professors.

“Three years ago, I wouldn’t be caught dead in front of a classroom giving instruction about math problems,” says the 17-year inmate. “My time with Lassen college instructors has given me more confidence than I ever thought possible.”

Before Lassen, L thought he was “never great” in school, but now he knows that with hard work and determination, he can earn his degree. He also has plans to own an auto dealership when he gets out.
After 17 years in prison, I finally have a few unwasted years I can talk about,” he says.

‘Hope in this Place’

“The program is amazing,” shares incarcerated student Diamonde, who is earning his associate in business and has big goals of opening up his own fitness center one day. “It has opened my mind to the possibilities that I didn’t know.”

Diamonde is the second in his family to graduate college, and because of Lassen College, he says, “I am that much closer to attaining my bachelor’s degree.”

A student since the business program first started coming into prisons about four years ago, Diamonde has seen big changes not only in himself but also in everyone around him.

“I have seen the impact it [the college program] has on the yard. Now in the day room, people are not playing cards and gambling but going over homework, studying for tests, and asking for help.

“This has given people hope in this place.”