LIFE UNIVERSITY HONORS LATEST GRADUATES FROM HIGHER EDUCATION PROGRAM AT GEORGIA PRISON
Marietta, Georgia, February 14, 2020 – Life University (LIFE) conferred degrees upon 15 graduates at Lee Arrendale State Prison on Thursday, February 13, 2020. The students have earned their Associate of Arts degree in Positive Human Development and Social Change as part of the Chillon Project, an initiative of LIFE’s Center for Compassion, Integrity and Secular Ethics (CCISE).
This class of graduates is the second cohort to earn their degrees though the Chillon Project, following 11 scholars who graduated in January 2019. Many of them are among the 22 students who are now pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree from LIFE. A third cohort of 17 students began pursuing an A.A. degree in January 2020.
“Collaboration with educational institutions is one key to successful offender reentry,” said Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Timothy C. Ward. “Our partnership with Life University provides offenders with the knowledge and support to transform their lives into productive returning citizens.”
Dr. Thomas Fabisiak, Ph.D., Director of the Chillon Project, says the program embodies Life University’s guiding principle of Lasting Purpose: Give, Serve, Love and Do – stemming from gratitude and abundance from an inner-directed life.
“Lasting Purpose speaks to a basic truth about human experience: no matter our circumstances, we all share a longing for loving community, for chances to create and grow, and for ways to give generously of ourselves,” Fabisiak said. “There are a lot of people in prison who are not just smart and talented, but who want to excel and give back to their communities, inside and outside of prison, and will gladly do so when offered the opportunity.”
Lee Arrendale State Prison is special mission facility for women in Alto, Georgia that has been designated by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) as a site of Life University. The Chillon Project also funds full scholarships at LIFE for correctional officers and staff members from Arrendale.
“Chillon has benefited from the beginning from a strong partnership with the Georgia Department of Corrections,” Fabisiak said. “GDOC staff at all levels value education and see the impact that higher education in prisons can have in fulfilling their commitment to promote safety and well-being for Georgia communities.”
In addition to their schoolwork, all Chillon scholars complete Compassionate Integrity Training, which focuses on secular ethics, resilience, and empathy, as well as social and emotional learning.
Fabisiak pointed out that prisons are one way that people are separated from each other, both physically and figuratively.
“LIFE’s mission is focused on enabling people to fulfill their potential to thrive and benefit others,” Fabisiak said. “In a vitalistic way, higher education in prison is simply a matter of redistributing resources and reopening doors that had been closed, and seeing the benefits that flow from that.”
The Chillon Project is funded through the generous support of Life University, individual donors and grants from the SunTrust Howell Fund and Laughing Gull Foundation, an organization committed to promoting LGBTQ equality, higher education in prisons and environmental justice in the U.S. South.
For more information about the Chillon Project, visit Compassion.LIFE.edu/Chillon-Project.
For more information about Georgia Department of Corrections Inmate Services Division, visit http://www.gdc.ga.gov/Divisions/InmateServices/Education-Programs.