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TCF celebrates education participants' pursuit of a dream

by KDOC News — last modified Nov 20, 2017 12:13 PM
No one dreams of being incarcerated, Jay Hertel pointed out at a celebration of educational achievement at Topeka Correctional Facility on Nov. 16. But dreams aren’t constrained by the setting.

Hertel, the director of correctional education for Greenbush, the educational provider for the facility, oversees the adult basic education and Microsoft Office Specialist program  in the all-women’s correctional facility. He acknowledged that the recipients did not start out dreaming of receiving their education inside a correctional facility. But he assured the women that opportunities lie ahead just the same.

“What’s important is what you do moving forward,” Hertel said. “Even though you are here, you should choose to have a dream and pursue it. Set your dreams high and do what you need to achieve them.”

Eleven students completed their GED – the equivalent of a high school diploma – while 45 received certificates for various levels of computer training. Six received certificates in horticulture.

Keynote speaker Andrea Burgess, who worked at TCF prior to becoming the director of the Northern Parole Region, commended the effort put forth by those who pursue their education while incarcerated.

“Think about the spirit, the discipline, the loyalty to yourself, and to your family, and the staff, and to each other – you have a right to be proud and to believe in yourself,” Burgess said.

A reception following the ceremony allowed the graduates to interact with family members who were invited to attend.

Greenbush instructors Brett Young and Melissa Elliott spoke of their experience working closely with the graduates.

“It’s not exactly like a school setting, but they make it fun and keep us focused on doing what we need to do,” said GED recipient Elana Orozco-Hernandez. “For us, getting this diploma means moving forward and growing, not letting being in a place like this define us as a person.”

 Certificates were awarded in courses that teach basic computer literacy and intermediate skills in word processing and Excel. Some students received an industry-recognized certification in Microsoft Office Specialist, which demonstrates proficiency in Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access).

 

 

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