May 27, 2022

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Reclaiming my dignity, value, humanity and worth through education

By: Jessica L. Henry

My name is Jessica Louise Henry. I am a 39-12 months-aged female born and lifted in Detroit. Soon after foster treatment, juvenile detention facilities, teenager pregnancy, a few rehabs, various therapists, 8 jail conditions, and two prison bids, my daily life experienced come to be scattered. I have a visual of playing cards distribute haphazardly across the flooring with a lot of unanswered “whys” that have piled up through my lifetime.  

I could convey to you about myself, but till you truly sit down and get to know me for by yourself, you may possibly not be equipped to fully recognize my tale. I am much more than just my errors or my damaged heritage. I am much more than a statistic or the stigma that culture has taken on by itself to location on me. When phrases fail to express the benefit of my experience, my steps do significantly far more justice. 

Education and learning has normally been an critical portion of my upbringing, even all through the trauma, neglect, and incarceration. In actuality, mainly because of the incarceration, my training turned a priority. For the duration of my very first prison bid I was able to generate my GED at age 32 right after being out of school for 16 decades. I had hopes of continuing my instruction on my release, but my targets have been hindered by boundaries and self-sabotage. When I began my second jail bid, I was ready in a new way. My coronary heart was in it. My soul was completely ready for redemption. Soon after staying stripped of my dignity, price, humanity, and well worth due to my incarcerated point out, I felt that I could reclaim what was taken by achieving greatness by means of my educational achievements.  

In January of 2017, I was approved to Jackson College’s 2nd Probability Pell system exactly where I concluded 3 associate’s levels by August of 2019. I graduated with a 3.96 GPA and walked across the phase with High Honors. I individually attained again all my dignity, price, humanity, well worth and extra. I even shook the Warden’s hand proudly. It is notable to point out that my full graduating course graduated with Superior Honors that working day, all seventeen women of all ages. 

The benefit that this system has introduced to my existence is more than I have gotten in any of my existing on-campus classes. Getting in the prison natural environment, I experienced a prospect to discover with females who have been through daily life-altering ordeals. We realized with each other with the curriculum and with our encounters in brain. We learned with pen and paper, our system supplies, and minor to no know-how. The intimacy of our classroom, the learners and professors provided, cannot be matched wherever else.

I now show up at Spring Arbor University earning my bachelor’s in Social Work with a double insignificant in Psychology and Business. I will graduate in the spring of 2023 and transfer on to get my Master of Social Work (MSW). I can actually say that now I have those scattered cards in my hand, and I can comprehend the “why” of it all. I know that those people struggles have organized me for this instant in my life, providing back again as a result of social operate. I know that I have been ready to support those who have or are battling to locate the support they have to have to get back again on their feet. Many thanks to my training and the possibilities the Next Opportunity Pell program afforded me all through my incarceration I can say that I am back on my feet.