The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Breaking News

May 21, 2010

Pendleton inmates receive college diplomas

PENDLETON, Ind. — Christopher Lewis’ walk across the front of his graduating class to receive his college diploma Friday was especially important to him.

The Pendleton Correctional Facility inmate reveled in his chance to graduate cum laude from Ball State University with his bachelor’s of general studies degree, even more so because he missed his high school graduation ceremony while he was incarcerated.

“It feel great,” said Lewis, who was convicted in 2003 of murder, armed robbery, criminal confinement and battery.

Lewis hopes to continue his education by studying for a master’s degree in sociology.

“I want to be an example to my peers,” he said. “I want to be a mentor.”

Lewis was one of 52 associate’s and bachelor’s degree recipients to graduate from Ball State and Grace College on Friday at the Pendleton Correctional Facility. The inmates received their diplomas as their family members proudly looked on in the campus’ religious services building.

It took Lewis six years to complete his degree from Ball State’s correctional education program. He said he never had any doubts that he could do it.

Another inmate, Michael Newman, earned his associate’s degree from Ball State on Friday. Like Lewis, Newman hopes to help people one day as a counselor.

“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “I’ve been out of school for a long time.”

Newman said the most difficult part of earning his degree while in prison was taking the time to study and not getting distracted by noise in the prison dorms. He is serving a 50-year sentence after being convicted in 2006 of possession of cocaine, according to Indiana Department of Corrections records.

“Class of 2010” signs decorated the building at the ceremony as a parade of proud graduates in black and beige caps and gowns entered what used to the be prison’s gym and sat down in front of their families. Inspirational songs by the prison choir punctuated the ceremony.

Prison Assistant Superintendent for Re-entry John George compared the graduates’ education journey to famous aviator Charles Lindbergh’s first flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

“I’m sure during his flight, probably halfway across the Atlantic, he asked himself, ‘Should I turn back or go on?’” George told the graduates. “I’m sure you as graduates have had doubts. Should I turn back or go on? You went on.”

Isaac Randolph, a retired Indianapolis firefighter and founder of Good Works Indiana, was the keynote speaker for the event. Randolph encouraged the inmate graduates to create companies when they were released that would employ other former offenders.

“It was difficult for ex-offenders to get jobs before the downturn in the economy,” he said. “Be the person who hires ex-offenders. I think here is the next entrepreneurs for the next decade.”

Randolph told the graduates they were not alone in their education journey, and pointed out that, although they might have had doubts about their own abilities, their families never had doubts that they could earn their degrees.

“The key is to come out and be ready,” Randolph said. “Your success will be measured by how you prepare for life outside of these walls.

“I’m no different than you. We’ve all done bad things. The difference between me and you is I didn’t get caught; I stopped before I got caught. We all are flawed from the time we take our first breath.”

Pendleton Correctional Facility was one of the first satellite sites in the early 1990s for Ball State’s distance education program, according to prison staff. Students earning degrees Friday from Ball State and Grace College completed the same curriculum as students on the campuses of each respective institution.

By the numbers

Pendleton Correctional Facility inmates receiving college degrees Friday:

  Ball State University associate of arts degree: 26

  Ball State University bachelor of general studies degree: 13

  Grace College associate of science degree: 9

  Grace College bachelor of science degree: 4


Text Only
Breaking News
  • 500 Festival Mini Marathon might not fill field

    With less than two weeks to go, the 38th 500 Festival Mini Marathon might not have a full field for the first time in 12 years.

    April 20, 2014

  • Turner case tests bounds of 'citizen legislature'

    When a legislative ethics panel meets this week to review the case of House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner, members could have trouble finding clear-cut answers, in large part because of the Indiana General Assembly's status as a "citizen legislature."

    April 20, 2014

  • news_popefrancis.jpg Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

    Celebrating Easter Sunday, Christianity's most joyous and hopeful day, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine and Syria and for an end to the terrorist attacks in Nigeria that have targeted many Christians.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_24restaurants.jpg Mayor's menu filled up: One day, 24 restaurants

    Jenkintown (Pa.) Mayor Ed Foley, in a gut-busting campaign to draw attention to the tiny borough's varied restaurant scene, set out to visit all 24 of them on Saturday, starting with a pre-dawn visit to IHOP.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_ukraine.jpg US weighing military exercises in Eastern Europe

    The United States is considering deploying about 150 soldiers for military exercises to begin in Poland and Estonia in the next few weeks, a Western official said Saturday.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_skoreaferry.jpg 10 more bodies found inside sunken ferry by divers

    Divers recovered 13 bodies from inside a ferry that sank off South Korea, pushing the confirmed death toll to 46, officials said Sunday. The discovery came after rescuers finally gained access to the inside of the ship following three days of failure and frustration caused by strong currents and bad visibility due to inclement weather.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • spt_flanagan.jpg Hometown favorite wants to win Boston Marathon, for Boston

    Shalane Flanagan grew up in nearby Marblehead with a reverence for the Boston Marathon and dreamed, like many locals and foreign runners alike, that she would win the race someday. Her goal has changed now.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Miami Correctional 06.JPG Indiana county worried about new law's impact

    A new law revamping the state's criminal code has sparked concerns in northeastern Indiana's Allen County that it will saddle the county with new costs and fill up the local jail.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_felumlee.jpg Ohio couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

    A couple who held hands at breakfast every morning even after 70 years of marriage have died 15 hours apart.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_missingboymass.jpg Body found by highway is missing Massachusetts boy

    The body of a small boy apparently cast off the side of a highway has been confirmed as a missing 5-year-old, authorities said Saturday.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Front page

Oscar Pistorius' murder trial has gripped South Africa and sports fans worldwide. If he is found guilty of premeditated murder he faces 25 years to life in prison. Do you think he intentionally shot his girlfriend?

     View Results