Stay Connected !
We are here to highlight our formerly incarcerated and system impacted scholars. The intentions to share about them in news and media is to spread social awareness about the work they continue to advocate as students. This is a way for the formerly incarcerated students to share about their personal experience and advocate for those who are still living behind the walls.
Students leading the world
The ‘Un-Becoming’: A former L.A. gang member finds his resurrection tale at UC Berkeley
Jessi Fernandez prepares for a celebration of 2023 graduates at Homeboy Industries. Fernandez grew up in Boyle Heights and joined a gang at 13, before turning his life around through education.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Groups for formerly incarcerated students aim to reject stereotypes, offer support
Alberto Lule, a fifth-year art student, said through the Underground Scholars Initiative at UCLA, he can carry his experiences from his incarceration as a badge of honor. Some formerly incarcerated students and students impacted by the incarceration of a loved one are using mindful language and USI to advocate for their community and dismantle negative perceptions. (Antonio Martinez/Daily Bruin)
"I got that second chance. I now had the possibility of coming home."
"I got sentenced to 14 years, opposed to a lot of my friends who got sentenced to life sentences," Madrid said. "I got that second chance. I now had the possibility of coming home."
Heard on campus: Abdulla Puckett at the Penn State Prison Education Summit
Abdulla Puckett, a doctoral student at the University of California at Los Angeles, addressed a group of nearly 140 individuals who gathered for the Penn State Prison Education and Reentry Summit on March 29-30 at the Nittany Lion Inn. Credit: Annemarie Mountz / Penn State. Creative Commons
Johanna Carbajal’s journey from lockup to law studies at UCLA
After years of foster care and incarceration, the single mom found her calling — and a welcoming space on campus. She hopes UCLA continues to embrace others like her
Student group for formerly incarcerated sees first graduating class
The Underground Scholars Initiative offers academic resources and support to students who were either once incarcerated or affected by the criminal justice system. (Daniel Leibowitz/Daily Bruin)
Underground Scholars Initiative: Just Culture
The Underground Scholars Initiative at UCLA put together a free event to the public on April 20 called “Just Culture” to showcase its movement within the UC community. With several Los Angeles-based vendors, performers and lowriders present at the event, USI helped create an opportunity for many to come together and share their art and stories with one another. Former USI president Javier Rodriguez shares his aspirations for USI and how he hopes the organization will continue to help students who have been affected by the legal system feel at home.
UCLA Alumni: Andrew Winn
Andrew Winn was homeless after being incarcerated for much of his 20s and 30s. Now Sacramento State has named him as its director of Project Rebound, a program that seeks to help formerly-incarcerated students get through college and achieve their career goals.
Opinion: I went from prison to college. After setbacks, Rising Scholars helped me get there.
While on the streets, I always told everyone it was a temporary journey, always talking about how education had changed my life, even while high.
Building a Prison to School Pipeline
This story was originally featured in La Gente’s Winter 2018 Incarceration Issue.
From handcuffs to cap and gowns. Growing up in low-income communities and inner cities, most of us have been affected by mass incarceration, but what has been done to reintegrate individuals back into society or academia? In an era where the United States incarcerates individuals at higher rates than the rest of the world, an organization at UCLA is doing its due diligence to reduce the recidivism rate.
La Gente Newsmagazine. An Underground Scholars: Highlighting Daniel Cisneros
Daniel Cisneros, a fourth-year undergraduate Chemical Engineering major and formerly incarcerated student says "I always try to promote higher education, like, 'Ay, if I could do it, then you could do it, man. You know, I'm not any smarter than you are."
- Sara Rodriguez recently graduated from UCLA with a master’s degree in social welfare.
From Homeboy Industries Trainee to Academic Assistant: Mynor Mendez Reflects on Lo Máximo
Mynor Mendez, Dedicated to turning my life around and mending the harm I had caused my community, I signed up for their 18-month training program, which focuses on healing and change.
Bruin Underground Scholars in professional roles
We take the time to highlight students who continue to support formerly incarcerated students outside of UCLA. We see the impact each and every one of them did on campus. We want to take this moment to highlight the work they are currently doing.
Homeboy Industries Thought for the Day: Trust the process
Leah Pinedo, Case Manager at Homeboy Industries
Root and Rebound
John Rodriguez, Root & Rebound Education & Communications Manager
Insight Garden Program
Andrew Winn, Executive Director
Justice Scholars Program at LBCC
Sara Rodriguez, Justice Scholars Staff