Caps, Gowns, and Diplomas: 38 Oklahoma Inmates Graduate With College Degrees

oklahoma inmates graduated

Dick Conner Correctional Center has a promising thing going in its partnership with Tulsa Community College in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In fact, more than three dozen Oklahoma inmates graduated with degrees in 2022, adding to the now more than 600 men who have graduated in the last 15 years.

How the Oklahoma Inmates Graduated

At Dick Conner Correctional Center, rehabilitation is the priority, and a big part of that rehabilitation, as well as offering the men a chance to regain their dignity, involves a partnership with Tulsa Community College.

2017 TCC President & CEO Leigh B. Goodson explained part of the purpose of the program saying, “Offenders who go through TCC’s program are taught and mentored by experienced business professionals and gain marketable skills while incarcerated.”

Since 2007, the two entities have worked together to offer convicts the opportunity to earn a higher education degree. And many have taken them up on that, with Dick Conner Correctional Center saying 600 Oklahoma inmates graduated through this partnership.

This year they celebrated at the facility in Hominy as the Oklahoma inmates graduated. And Dick Conner Correctional Center did their best to honor the graduates, offering them caps, gowns, diplomas, and celebratory photos.

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The Oklahoma Department of Corrections bragged about how the Oklahoma inmates graduated in their post to Facebook:

While not all three dozen plus Oklahoma inmates graduated at the ceremony, all have officially received their diplomas. The picture of the graduates shows 33 of the graduates in the caps and gowns, all with a smile on their face. If one looks hard enough, you might also be able to see the pride in their hearts for having worked so hard to complete the higher education degree. There were even some tears and embraces.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections asked the community to help them celebrate with the recent graduates, and the community did respond. With nearly 1,000 shares and 170 comments, the response was encouraging.

One Facebook user said, “Good for you all, to have taken this opportunity!”

Another said, “Congratulations! See what you can do when you put your mind to it. Not getting on drugs and coming out getting back connected with the wrong people and wrong things. I am so super proud of each and everyone of you who made up in their minds that they are winners!”

Donna Mcintosh said, “Congratulations to all and to the families that have rallied to support them. Education and achievement produce second chances. Much luck forward.”

Many Facebook users pointed out that this sort of partnership would be helpful for every correctional center.

Some looked toward the future saying, “Oh this brings me so much joy!!! May God bless them all with success upon their discharge!!”

The good news is that TCC isn’t the only college or university to partner with a correctional institution. A few years ago, TCC reported that there were 67 partnered in pilot programs and given the success of the TCC and Dick Conner Correctional Center, it seems like more may have joined.

So what’s the largest number of Oklahoma inmates graduated in a year?

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Jessica Sausto
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Jessica Sausto is a longtime writer and editor of Christian resources, news, and information.