COLLEGES + UNIVERSITIES

Inmates at Utah State Prison graduate from college through SLCC program

Jul 10, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: Aug 29, 2023, 3:30 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly two dozen inmates at the Utah State Prison graduated college on Monday through a Salt Lake City Community College program. 

Monday’s graduation marked the first graduating class since SLCC’s Prison Education Program restarted in 2017. This was also the first group to graduate since the prison moved from Draper to Salt Lake City.

Most of the 23 students got their associate degree in general studies.

Paul Wach was among those who got to put on a cap and gown.

“I’m learning to make wiser choices now, which is a consequence of having [an] education. It improved my self-esteem and thus helped me to have a more positive attitude toward the future.”

Sione Kauvaka was another graduate that got his degree on Monday, with his family in the crowd celebrating him.

“Education opened my eyes to the reality of my condition. And it became important to meet to take charge of my life, secure my future and try and enlighten those around me.”

Salt Lake Community College Director of Prison Education David Bokovoy said these inmates had to overcome many obstacles to get their diplomas. Bokovoy said many of the graduates had to overcome mental health struggles and work in a tough environment to graduate.

“What a remarkable accomplishment to be able to stand forward and pursue those quests and that goal in the face of such challenges.”

Bokovoy said he’s hopeful because research indicates that a large percentage of inmates that get a degree in prison will never go back. 

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Inmates at Utah State Prison graduate from college through SLCC program