As you prepare to graduate from the Prison University Project, what kind of legacy do you want to leave? How do you want your life to touch others in the College Program, at San Quentin, and in the larger community?
As I prepare to graduate from Prison University Project, the kind of legacy I want to leave behind is that of someone that appreciated the opportunity to participate in the program. I want my life to touch others in the College Program by knowing that a higher education is being offered. Don’t be afraid or feel intimidated because of the assignments. Be proud to know that you are doing the same work as college students in society right here at San Quentin.
The larger community should know that the Prison University Project is extremely appreciated by the inmates. There are tutors to assist students regarding their class curriculum.
What piece of work are you most proud of, and why?
The piece of work I’m most proud of is my research paper from English 204. I am proud because the Prison University Project provided me with the opportunity and assistance to accomplish my desired task.
My research was on female deities. This stemmed from the “Great Mother Goddess” and other female deities who were worshipped in Ancient Kemit, (present-day Egypt), before the worship of masculinity. Fro Nigeria to the Ivory Coast, female wisdom was adopted and practice through principles of meditation, known as Vodu.
I learned that patriarchy, endorsed by the nomads from Greece, changed many female symbols to male ones. Misogyny, through the support of male social institutions , contributed to the suppression of heavenly female equality, and religions like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have ended the worship of female deities.
Knowing this information has made me so deeply proud, and I continue to acknowledge and worship the “Great Mother Goddess.”
If you could share one piece of advice with incoming students, what would it be?
The one piece of advice I would share with incoming students that I would like to share is this: Take a deep breath, relax, and clear your mind. Be prepared to go on a wonderful journey to a higher education.
Do not get discouraged. Remain focused on learning and work at your own pace. Do what you can and don’t ever feel as though you can’t do the work. There are plenty of tutors to assist you with whatever it is that you find difficult to understand.
With the Prison University Project, you have a chance to advance rehabilitating yourself. I know that distractions are all around. Make the decision to let go and become stronger within yourself. Strengthen your mind.
Beyond completing your AA Degree, what goals have you set for yourself?
Beyond completing my AA Degree, other goals that I have set for myself are: one day obtaining my freedom from incarceration, continuing with my education, helping others by being of assistance with school work, and continuing to support addicts with their sobriety.
I have the heart to be of assistance to those who are experiencing a little trouble with their school assignments. I like to see people trying and speaking up when they need help. I once had the problem of not saying anything when I needed help. Once I started speaking up, I noticed that people were glad to help, and that boosted my spirit. Now I am able to assist others. When I assist others, I know that they appreciate it, because they say “thank you!” They are able to understand that nothing is difficult when help is available, and it makes me proud.
What has been the most challenging part of being a college student? Is there a time you’ve had to push yourself outside of your comfort zone? Tell us about it.
The most challenging part of being a college student is knowing that professors are from universities throughout the Bay Area. I’m always glad to hear them speak about their students on campus having problems with schoolwork. When that’s said, I think about the classroom and realize that, “Hey, we’re in college. No time to complain, get busy!
There were times that I had to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I planned to have completed college in a certain amount of time. I was taking three courses at a time to stay on my schedule. When I made it to Elementary and Intermediate Algebra, my three classes that I would usually take came to a halt. I had to give my full attention to these classes; there was no thinking of anything else. It had gotten serious. My comfort zone was over with. I had to push myself after completing intermediate algebra. I had to enroll in four courses to catch back up to my schedule. After passing the four classes, I was exhausted.
Tell us about an instructor or tutor who has been especially influential in your experience as a student. How has s/he impacted you?
An instructor who has been especially influential in my experience as a student is Elizabeth. She was a tutor when I enrolled in Intermediate Algebra. She displayed great patience. I had problems with the material. Instead of going over the difficult problems on the chalkboard, she had me step up to the board and try to solve them myself. I knew that she was aware of my being nervous, and that other students also found the work to be challenging.
What I appreciated was that she was patient and soft spoken. When I did make an error, she would ask me what was the step I had to perform before I wrote the error. With her method, I smiled. I felt better because I had more confidence. She never showed signs of being exhausted of repeating steps. She refused to move on until everyone had solved the problem.
She impacted me in a great way with her patience and calm attitude. When I assist others, I utilize her method of patience, never displaying signs of being upset or making someone feel that they would never understand the work. When I use her method, students are glad to continue moving forward instead of giving up. Thank you so much, Elizabeth!
Who are the people in your life who have helped you succeed? Tell us about them.
The person in my life who has helped me succeed would be my late mother, Dorothy Briggs. Without her, nothing would have been possible. Her wisdom was profound. She always urged me to deal with situations in a respectable way, and I continue to live by her words. My cousin, Lakeisha Scott, has helped me succeed with her strength and support. She is a very caring person and it shows through her advice. She inspires me to continue with being positive, and to not give up on my goals. My aunt Peggy Stovall has always helped me to succeed with her positive attitude and conversation. She is an Emeritus from the field of Liberal Arts. She’s retired twice, which shows her character. I hope that she can stop traveling so much, and begin working on some books that she’s promised to write!
What are some words of wisdom, congratulations, or encouragement that you’d like to share with your fellow graduates?
Some words of wisdom I would like to share with my fellow graduates: Destiny is what you make it out to be. If you’re going to be positive, all will be okay, and if not, please keep your seatbelt on and make sure that your airbags work.” I congratulate everyone for completing the journey of obtaining a higher education. I know the experience may not have been good because of others wanting to you continue playing games. I’m glad that you chose the appropriate decision.
I encourage everyone to continue helping others who would like to experience this journey. Lastly, don’t anyone throw their caps and gowns and run naked. Remember you can still go to the hole. Much love to everyone and good luck to you all!