They are not typical college students, but a small group of inmates at four northern Nevada correctional centers that have had a reason to celebrate in the past few weeks. Western Nevada Community College awarded degrees and certificates to 23 incarcerated students at the Lovelock Correctional Center, Nevada State Prison, Northern Nevada Correctional Center and Warm Springs Correctional Center.
The men were of all ages and walks of life, and hailed from many different communities, but they shared a strong common bond - succeeding in attaining a college degree. The graduates wore caps and gowns and marched into the prison visitors rooms to the orchestral sounds of Pomp and Circumstance being played on a portable CD player. Student speakers took the chance to congratulate their fellow graduates on their monumental accomplishment, and in some of the prisons, ice cream and cake were allowed for the graduates and family members who attended.
At the Lovelock ceremony on Thursday, WNCC Prison Education Coordinator Rick VanAusdal reminded the students that with each degree they earn while incarcerated, statistics show that they are less and less likely to return to prison. Director of Admissions & Records Dianne Hilliard congratulated the inmates for persevering on the road to success in an environment where many would give up.
Afterward, the graduates proudly posed for photos that several said they would send to their families.
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