Awards and Appreciation, Rehabilitation

Pelican Bay graduation: A celebration of education

A man wears graduation cap and gown.
Pelican Bay prison graduate.
PBSP recent college graduate

The College of the Redwoods (CR) Pelican Bay Scholars Program provides face-to-face college courses to incarcerated students at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP).

Students enrolled in the program can earn an AA Liberal Arts Degree in Behavioral and Social Sciences and complete the required GE courses to be eligible to transfer to a California State University.

In addition to offering an opportunity to earn a degree, they strive to address literacy disparities and offer quality educational opportunities in a learning environment that promotes collaboration, individuality, capability, and empowerment; to support students in leading meaningful and productive lives inside and outside the institution, and; to provide education that boosts economic vitality for students as contributors and leaders within their communities.

Through collaboration and a team effort, the Pelican Bay Scholars Program, student scholars, and PBSP, are proud to announce the graduation of 38 students in 2021. Included in the graduating class are two students who earned an Associate in Arts Degree for Transfer in Sociology, in addition to one student who completed his degree post parole and plans to pursue higher education at UC Berkeley.

Congratulations, CR Pelican Bay Scholars graduating class of 2021!

Hilario Aguero, Harvey Amezcua, Bernard Anderson, Matthew Barnes, Daniel Barral, Miguel Bautista, Paolo Bognot, Kevin Burch, Jonathan Carrillo, Isaac Chavez, Stevie Colley, Anthony DeLonnie, Trenton Dukes, Jose “Hozer” Flores, Bryant Garbutt, Ali Griffin, Marquis Greenwood, Shawn Jackson, Ulises Kline, Hung Le, Gregory Lopez, Anthony Mancera, Jesse Martinez, Eddie Napoles, Giang Nguyen, Alexander Pleitez, Richard Ramirez, Marco Rios, Tovar Rodriguez, Bunthoeun Roeung, Christopher Santana, William Shoopman, Steve Stanko, Troy Swan, Kunlyna Tauch, Michael Thomas, Jeremy Valentin, and Nicholas Vasquez.

PBSP, Warden Jim Robertson was asked his thoughts on the College of the Redwoods program

“Since The College of the Redwoods and PBSP have provided college education opportunities to our inmate’s population, the program has been wildly successful and we have had the incarcerated request to be retained on our Level IV 180 mainline to continue their education, even though they could have transferred to a level III. Of all the graduations that I attend, the College of the Redwoods and the Building Resilience in the SHU are my two favorites, with ARC in a close third place,” said Robertson. Education is the greatest equalizer”.

PBSP, Principle Joe Cummings was asked, why the CR program is so important

“I am always impressed by the fact that the program is giving those enrolled, an opportunity to interact in a classroom environment, giving them as close to an on campus experience as is possible within PBSP,” Cummings said.

“College allows them to think about the bigger picture.  College and all of education has life-changing benefits, improves relations between staff members and the incarcerated, and dramatically enhances the incarcerated’s self-esteem”.

PBSP Scholar Program Coordinator, Tory Eagles, was asked the benefits of the program to the incarcerated population and what is her vison for the program?

“The benefit of the Pelican Bay Scholars Program is that we nurture individuality and professionalism, encourage a diverse range of stakeholders through collaboration, and provide an outlet for personal and professional development for students,” Eagles explained

“Overall, higher education improves the quality of life for individuals who will parole and those who may not through its transformative nature and ability to assist individuals in developing the skill set necessary to overcome barriers, inside and outside of the institution”.

PBSP college graduates