Fighting Chances

By: Damian Archer

As 1 of the 1st recipients in Maine of a Pell Grant as a result of the Second Opportunity Pell Experimental Sites Initiative, I cherish these options to stand for education’s prospective for rehabilitating the imprisoned. My education and learning while incarcerated and my release to the “real world” holds viewpoint which I offer gratefully to provide a lot more perception on this matter. Transitioning back again to regular living has experienced its troubles, but I’m no stranger to life’s obstacles.

My identify, Damian, will come from a Greek word “Damianos” which means, “master, get over, or conquer.” The listing of matters I have get over is extensive: divorced mothers and fathers, childhood abuse, poverty, dependancy, ostracism, juvenile incarceration, homelessness, mental disease, violence, almost a ten years powering bars, and even my possess terrible mindset. All ahead of achieving my 30s.

Having attained the stage of instruction and soundness of brain that I maintain now is nothing shy of a wonder. Through my K-12 years I attended 7 unique educational institutions throughout 3 states ahead of slipping via the cracks.  Ultimately, at age 18 I earned a GED with flying colours. I didn’t deficiency for intelligence, but I did absence balance and willpower. Prior to incarceration, I had an fascination in college or university and participated in some cost-free credit-yielding programs. Nevertheless, my daily life situations and possibilities at the time have been incongruent with these ambitions, so I in no way completed any courses or enrolled at a college.

Given the possibility by means of Next Opportunity Pell, I enrolled in lessons with the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) and commenced doing the job towards an Affiliate of Arts in Liberal Reports though in jail. In 1 semester I recognized my abilities. I was not by yourself, either. There ended up about 25 adult males in my cohort who fulfilled this determination. Several of us went beyond this to go after more levels.

Considering the fact that my December release I have been busier than ever. Enrolled in 5 programs, I have preserved involvement in quite a few crew jobs even though also utilized as a laptop or computer information units (CIS) tutor and a school assistant for UMA. In these roles, I offer in-person as nicely as remote tutoring to the higher neighborhood of UMA students (and one incarcerated UMA college student).  My schedule has been overloaded to the stage of finding limits, but I have assisted a lot of other people and honed techniques alongside the way.  My transcript demonstrates approximately straight-As as I tactic completion of my B.S. in CIS with a Software Enhancement concentration. I hope to pursue a M.S. in Cybersecurity later on.

There are definitely opponents battling in opposition to packages that aid incarcerated folks. Some would be pleased crafting-off the full inhabitants of folks in jail as nothing but “bad people”. Admittedly, imprisonment generally success from bad selections. Nonetheless, persons in prison often occur from challenging instances that required assist in the 1st put. Brief of acquiring that help they barely had a preventing prospect.

The United States that I enjoy is a single that believes in second likelihood – heck, even 3rd and fourth chances. The good thing is, it would seem like the tide in our nation is commencing to convert in the ideal direction. This spring, the Division of Education expanded the Next Likelihood Pell Experiment, offering Pell Grants to hundreds extra students in prisons across the region, and in 2023, all incarcerated pupils enrolled  in eligible jail education and learning courses will turn into qualified for this significant form of economical aid.

I hope my tale informs and proves that when we drop, education and learning can enable us get again up once again. Of training course, I’m for good grateful for the help I have experienced together the way.


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