On June 7, the Prison University Project hosted its annual graduation ceremony in the visiting room at San Quentin. Surrounded by family, friends, fellow students, staff and board members, and other supporters, twelve graduates received their Associate of Arts degrees as the culmination of their academic journey through the College Program.
Kenneth Hartman, a freelance writer and Development Coordinator/Prison Program Specialist at The Catalyst Foundation, delivered the keynote address, sharing his own experience of incarceration and life after release and asserting to our graduates that their lives matter. Tommy "Shakur" Ross gave the valedictory speech, highlighting how college helped him to develop social and emotional coping skills. Both speeches reflected one of the Prison University Project’s fundamental values: education is a human right and vehicle for self-discovery, growth, and connection.
Below you will find transcription of Kenneth and Shakur's speeches, a copy of the graduation program, and excerpts from interviews with the Class of 2019. You can also watch a video of highlights from the ceremony and click through to see additional photos from the day.
A full length version of the graduation ceremony is available here. For Kenneth Hartman's speech, skip to 5:30; Tommy Ross's, skip to 27:50.