Inmates celebrate graduation from Dyersburg State

TIPTONVILLE, Tenn. — Inmates at a Tiptonville prison celebrated Thursday afternoon as they received recognition for their achievements.

Northwest Correctional Complex celebrated the class of 2021!

Inmates who graduated earned their Associates Degree at Dyersburg State Community College in Business Administration.

One inmate said that college saved his life.

“It was challenging. There are more than a few times where I’m like, ‘You know what, why am I even doing this? I’m not smart enough. I’m not good enough. You know, graduating from college is for other people and you’re not that kind of person, right?’ I stayed the course, and I had people that encouraged me and kept me from giving up on myself,” said Jerry Hardin, who graduated.

Hardin said he felt he was not smart enough to succeed because of the choices that got him in prison.

He said when he started to doubt himself and feel down, his classmates were the ones to lift him up.

“My other college students, I mean we were a team. There ain’t no ‘I’ with us, right? You know, you see somebody having trouble, you go around and help them. By doing so you pick yourself up. So yeah, it’s the guys that are up here with me, man. It’s their success too. They got me here,” Hardin said.

Hardin explained the daily life for a student in prison and said his only option for a better life and a second chance was to succeed in college.

“We listen to lectures. We spent time with the professors, and we’ll go back to our guilds, our housing units and we sat down. Look, we worked all together. We bring out the books, man. Every evening after work even when we don’t got class, this is what we’re doing. We put ourselves in a situation where we have no other choice but to succeed, right?” Hardin said.

Hardin says he plans to continue his education at Lane College and pursue his Bachelor’s Degree in business.

He is scheduled for release in two years and says he wants to be a free man that’s educated.

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