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Seven WI inmates graduate with associate degrees thanks to 'Second Chance' program

Posted at 6:09 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 17:08:53-05

MILWAUKEE — A special program provided to inmates across Wisconsin has given seven inmates a second chance to better themselves through higher education.

"There is no better manner in which you can handle your setbacks than through education," said Kyle Hansen.

Kyle Hansen received his liberal arts degree from Milwaukee Area Technical College Friday. And he did it while incarcerated.

"It’s really easy to fall into the trap of just sitting around and wasting time in prison. I didn’t want to fall into that trap - I wanted to make the years count for something, not just count the years," said Hansen.

Thanks to the Second Chance Pell pilot program, which allows a small number of colleges nationwide to provide post-secondary education and training to prisoners, Kyle was able to graduate from the program in three years while serving time at the Jackson Correctional Institution in Black River Falls. Kyle was convicted in 2014 for drug possession with intent to distribute.

"This associate degree helps prepare me for the opportunities to make a positive change in society. To work with and create nonprofits and really just simply put use the degree to go from being an adult dealer, to a hope dealer," said Hansen.

Kyle says his main motivation to get his degree was to make his family proud.

"My son Adrian. That’s was my motivation for getting a degree. Every day I emphasize to him the importance of working hard in school. I call him every day after school and I would be a hypocrite to not lead by example."

MATC's correctional education administrator says it’s critical that educational opportunities like the Second Chance program are made available to inmates to help them change their life around.

"It opens up doors, a lot of doors, for a lot of people who made mistakes along the way during their lives," said Dr. Sadique Isahaku.

Kyle graduated from MATC with a cumulative GPA of 3.97. He says he plans on working towards getting his bachelor's degree in business management. He’s scheduled to be released from prison in October of 2023.

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