Calipatria State Prison inmates advance their education during graduation ceremony
Calipatria State Prison inmates listen to a few words from their principal Friday morning during a graduation ceremony where 48 graduates received their GED. (ERIC MILLER PHOTO / June 15, 2013)
Like many graduates in the Valley, Baker and his peers had academically developed through their time spent studying and furthering their education.
However unlike the other graduates, they have achieved this goal while overcoming their own personal and environmental obstacles that come with being inmates at Calipatria State Prison.
“We’ve evolved and changed as we were challenged,” Baker said during his speech. “Whoever you were then, this is who you are now. You have taken control over the direction your life is taking.”
Opening new doors and opportunities for themselves, the inmates happily and proudly received their GED and vocational diplomas during their promotional ceremony as family members and loved ones cheered them on.
The annual ceremony recognized 48 diverse graduates from different ethnic and criminal backgrounds.
“It takes a lot of self-evaluation and motivation for them to accomplish this goal today,” Calipatria Adult School Principal Anthony Sigala said. “Unfortunately they are here, but they’re making the best of it.”
Proving that education can flourish no matter the environment, Baker expressed how he was able to make the most of his 24 years behind cell walls, completing two vocations in computer and related technology and in carpentry. He also became certified by Microsoft and has worked as a clerk in areas within the institution.
“This is just one of the benefits of an education,” Baker told his peers. “You have a lot more options; you are no longer limited to do what you want to do.”
Proud of the graduates and teachers, Chief Deputy Warden Warren Montgomery expressed his encouragement in the institution’s educational program.
“For many of the graduates this is the first positive thing in their lives,” Montgomery said. “It is the turning point and step in the right direction.”
Montgomery went on to explain how the program has succeeded in reducing the number of recidivism rates, as many individuals who become educated in the program are likely to become rehabilitated and leave the prison better prepared to assimilate back into society.
Sharing Montgomery’s sentiments, Baker ended his speech with a final thought toward his peers’ futures.
“You have but to reach for your potential and pull yourself up,” Baker said. “As you can see, you are responsible for your choices and it’s you that has to sit face to face with the outcome.”
Staff Writer Celeste Alvarez can be reached at 760-337-3442 or at email@example.com