By Lt. Virginia Carr, Administrative Assistant/PIO

The Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) recently hosted college graduation ceremonies for 30 inmates.

The graduation was the latest success for a CCWF educational program that has graduated about 100 inmates.

The Associate of Arts (AA) degrees were awarded through a correspondence course offered by Feather River College.  The school introduced a special correspondence program for female inmates at CCWF in 2009.

In addition to family, friends and the graduating class of 2014, more than 60 inmates on the path to graduation witnessed the ceremony.

Guest speakers included Carlita Stewart, a recent parolee who served more than 32 years behind bars and was recently released.  She gave an inspirational speech.

Ms. Stewart spoke of her personal trials and triumphs while incarcerated.  Ms. Stewart’s speech inspired many inmates as she recounted numerous times she wanted to give up, but found the strength and courage to continue. Because of her overwhelming commitment to excel, she succeeded and is now a productive member of society.

Ms. Stewart encouraged the recent and future graduates to continue with their education efforts, not to give up and push each other to succeed.  Ms. Stewart explained how the various programs at CCWF assisted her while on parole.  Ms. Stewart also thanked PIA Dental for the skills she acquired as she used those skills to find employment as a dental assistant.

Dr. Joan Parkin of Feather River College spoke of the commitment to excel each inmate demonstrated while on the road to receiving their AA degree.  Dr. Parkin noted Cohort 4 and Cohort 5 (graduating class of 2014) present at the ceremony.  Dr. Parker said, “This is the first time combining the graduates and future graduates together.”

She also expressed gratitude to Warden Deborah Johnson for this new approach.

Warden Johnson congratulated the graduates.

“In spite of the challenging prison environment, your concern for friends, family and children, you have pressed onward to this moment,” Warden Johnson said. “Now, you sit here surrounded by family, friends, CCWF staff, and Feather River Faculty waiting to hear your name called and receive your AA degree.  What an honor.”

Warden Johnson also encouraged inmates to complete their education: “Future graduates, continue to strive and work hard. One day you will sit in one of these seats, wearing a cap and gown, surrounded by family and friends.”

In June 2013, CCWF had three inmates participate in the State of California Board Certification in the area of Cosmetology.  The inmates are currently awaiting their final results.

Below are photos taken at the graduation:

CCWF Grad 3

CCWF Grad 1

CCWF Grad 2