Personal Narrative: My Degree At San Quentin

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One of the proudest moments of my life came in 2012 when I received my Associate of Arts degree and graduated as the class valedictorian. I realize that for some people earning a two year degree may seem like no big deal, but the fact that I did it while incarcerated at San Quentin made it extraordinary for me. Before coming to prison, I had failed at my two previous attempts at junior college without earning a single unit. It would take getting locked up and separated from society,before I 'd start to buckle down. I was 33-years old when I completed my first Coastline College course in Geology and received an A. This milestone helped me to see the value in learning and gave me the confidence to go after an education I had all but given up on. When I transferred to San Quentin,I immediately enrolled in the college program offered through Patten University. The coolest thing about Patten compared to other prison college programs is that they bring in grad students from surrounding colleges like UC Berkeley and University of SF to help teach and tutor over 20 different classes per semester.Another major plus was that things like tuition, books,and class materials were…show more content…
I was amazed to find out that at San Quentin, Patten University graduates were allowed to invite family members inside the prison for a cap and gown ceremony. Also,the graduate with the highest GPA was named valedictorian and selected to make a speech at the graduation. I knew right away this was something I wanted, because it would give me the voice I longed for to rail against the injustices within the prison system. I worked my tail off for three years amid the chaos of cell searches, quarantines, and lock downs. But in the end, it all paid off because I earned a 3.93 GPA and was selected the valedictorian. The only thing left to do was to put the speech, which I had already written in my head 1000 times, down on paper. However, once I began writing,I realized that something inside of me had
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