A mistake in his past led Don W. to incarceration, but thanks to Rio Salado College’s Incarcerated Re-Entry program, he graduated with two degrees in 2017 and embarked on a new life.
“While I was away, I began looking to try and find ways for those years not to be a total loss,” Don said. “When I saw the opportunity to take classes and learn new skills, I jumped on it knowing I would have to reinvent myself upon release.”
Between 2011 and 2017, Don completed several work-based education programs including electrical, carpentry and automotive.
He rounded that out by finishing the general studies and elective credits required to complete associate degrees in arts and work force re-entry.
“The education I received was immensely helpful,” Don said. “I started out doing punch list work in the construction industry where I used the skills I learned in carpentry and electrical.”
After a year, Don got a job as an auto mechanic for a major car rental company.
“Two years later, I am the lead technician on the night shift where I not only apply the knowledge gained from the work-based education certificate, but also leadership skills from Rio Salado’s business and management courses.”
Don also enjoys the hands-on work and sharing knowledge with his coworkers.
“I really enjoy taking a broken thing like these cars and making them right again,” Don said. “And I like being able to help others, the new hires, learn the trade and help them grow their skills.”
Don also wants to encourage those who are incarcerated to consider education as a path to a better life.
“You can emerge from prison with a good path forward,” Don said. “Use your time in the best way possible to come out of there with choices.”
Don credits his Rio Salado education for providing him with a solid foundation for his future.
“Rio Salado was a vital component in making this shift from prison to becoming successful upon release,” Don said. “Without it, I don’t know what my course would have looked like.
Having a good education in the trade along with a little experience really made the difference.”
See all the certificate and degree programs Rio Salado offers that can help you make a difference.