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S.C. inmates will be able to earn free degrees through Orangeburg university

(Source: Corey Schmidt)
Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 12:30 PM EST
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ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - South Carolina state prison inmates will soon be able to earn bachelor’s degrees for free through a partnership with Claflin University and Healthy Routines, a Columbia nonprofit.

Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack, president of Claflin, said the university has shown “deep and abiding commitment” to expanding access to education that can change lives.

“It’s in our DNA,” he said.

He noted that Claflin was founded as the first historically black higher education institution in South Carolina and the first university in the state “that welcomed all students regardless of ethnic origin, gender, race or religion.”

The private university in Orangeburg was chosen in April as a U.S. Department of Education Second Chance Pell Experimental Site to help inmates earn university credentials. Claflin plans to launch the program in early 2021, and the South Carolina Department of Corrections has already started the application process.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our inmates to better themselves and receive an education,” said Bryan Stirling, director of the agency that has prisons in Allendale, McCormick and Trenton.

Claflin will offer three a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management.

Students also will be able to obtain minor and certificate credentials.

Healthy Routines will offer non-credit college preparation courses.

Jay Holder, director of public affairs at Healthy Routines, can speak firsthand to the power of education as a formerly incarcerated scholar.

“Education is real,” he said. “It takes you places you never knew you could go.”

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