This past Tuesday, September 25, in Shuman Hall (Nyack College Rockland undergraduate campus), students and faculty learned about the lives of several people who are pursuing a higher education while serving time in prison. We learned that this is not an easy path to take. It doesn't only consist of prisoners attending class just because they have nothing else to do. It involves their families' hopes and dreams as well as the students’ strong desire to give something back to the society they once hurt.
Personally, I was moved by this whole initiative. It transformed my life with a simple sentence: "You are not your worst action". Someone's worst moment should not define who they are. Yes, people who are part of this program once hurt society somehow, and yes, they either ruined or even ended someone else's life. The question is: Are we (members of society) going to chastise these students for the rest of their lives or are we going to give them a suitable platform for them to use their energy and desire to give back to the society they once hurt? I choose the latter.
"A mind is too wonderful to be wasted", powerful words expressed by the Center for Scholarship and Global Engagement’s director, Dr. Nina Balmaceda. The determining note of the panel presentation offered after the documentary was one of excitement and hope. It was formed by Dr. Balmaceda, four former students of the program, one of whom is today Hudson Link’s Executive Director, Sean Pica, and as a moderator, Nyack College student Jackie Zapata.
Follow this link for the audio podcast of the panel discussion presented after the documentary was shown. http://nyackcsge.podbean.com/2012/10/01/zero-percent-panel-discussion/