7 men graduate with associates degree in maximum security prison

A unique graduation ceremony took place today inside a prison.
Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 7:11 PM EDT
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SUFFIELD, Conn. (WFSB) - A unique graduation ceremony took place today inside a prison.

The graduation was inside a heavily guarded room at McDougall-Walker, a maximum security prison.

The graduates are 7 men who achieved their associate’s degree. Evan Holmes is one of them.

“We refuse to let anyone other than ourselves determine our destinies,” Evan said.

Evan, like all the graduates, has spent months reading, writing, and studying. Some want to be lawyers and social workers.

This is a partnership between the University of New Haven and Yale University to educate those incarcerated.

“We are all here because we are so proud of you. I am here because I am so proud of you,” said Governor Ned Lamont.

Families were invited to celebrate the accomplishments.

Alpha Jalloh graduated with honors.

“For me, this is the proudest day of my life. I couldn’t sleep last night. I worked hard for this,” Alpha said.

“Just seeing him accomplish this shows kids you can do anything, no matter what the issue,” added Alpha’s friend, Gary Hasselo.

It felt good for Desiree Phillippi to hold her son, a graduate. When families visit they are separated by a wall.

“I am extremely proud of him. I don’t have the words, just extremely proud,” Desiree said.

For these 7 graduates who have been locked up for the things they have done in their past, the hope is that education will give them a much brighter future.