Sixteen Degrees Conferred to Sullivan InmatesShare on Twitter!
For eight years, SUNY Sullivan has partnered with Hudson Link to provide higher education to inmates of the nearby Sullivan Correctional Facility. Formed in 1998, Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison provides college education, life skills and reentry support to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women to help them make a positive impact on their own lives, their families and communities, resulting in lower rates of recidivism, incarceration and poverty.
Following the procession of administration and faculty, graduates entered to the applause of friends and family.
Hudson Link’s Pre-College Coordinator Paul Dinter offered an Invocation, and Mary Donnolly, Hudson Link’s Sullivan Correctional Facility Academic Coordinator, gave the welcoming address. Damian Rossney then provided the Commencement Address.
Mr. Rossney, Project Manager/New Beginnings at Hudson Link, made powerful remarks about his own experience with incarceration, and the importance of education.
In fact, Hudson Link’s programs boast savings to New York State taxpayers of over $21 million per year, a number that continues to rise. Hudson Link suggests its astonishingly low recidivism rate (less than 2% percent compared to over 67% nationwide) is proof that the redemptive power of education is far more cost-effective than prison.
SUNY Sullivan’s Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, Keith Pomakoy, then presented the candidates to President Jay Quaintance, who conferred their degrees.
In congratulating the graduates for “overcoming significant barriers and earning a degree,” SUNY Sullivan President Jay Quaintance pointed out that:
“Education is the cornerstone of a civil society, and ensuring that even those who are incarcerated have access to college and an opportunity to learn and improve themselves is another example of how community colleges change lives.”
Associate Professor Daneryl Weber honored by the graduates.
Impressively, each of the sixteen graduates earned high honors, and the Valedictorian and Salutatorian of the group, known as Cohort 5, gave addresses to those in attendance.
Awards were presented, to graduates as well as staff and faculty, including a visibly moved Daneryl Weber, SUNY Sullivan Associate Professor, who accepted an award from the graduating class.
Superintendent of Sullivan Correctional Facility William Keyser offered closing remarks, encouraging graduates to “look back only to see how far you have come,” before Paul Dinter concluded the ceremony with a closing benediction.
Keith Pomakoy, presents the candidates to President Jay Quaintance.