Crest Hill, Il. (WEHT) – Stateville Correctional Center had a cause for joy on June 16, a graduation! This graduation marks the first time a cohort/s has graduated with masters degrees inside an Illinois Department Of Corrections (IDOC) facility.

Through an educational partnership with North Park Theological Seminary’s School of Restorative Arts (SRA), 28 students earned their Masters of Arts degrees in Christian Ministry and Restorative Arts. They all not only completed the 54-hour program, each student received either honors or high honors.

The class started working for their degrees in 2018 and continued to work toward it even through the COVID-19 pandemic. The Dean of the Seminary, David Kersten, led the ceremony which included many speakers. Those speakers include:

  • Warden Charles Truitt
  • Assistant Warden of Programs, Kenneth Osborne
  • Education Facilities Administrator, Laura Costabile of Stateville Correctional Center
  • Interim Dean of Faculty Dennis Edwards
  • Dean of Students and Community Life Debra Auger
  • Mary Surridge, President of North Park University
  • Cook County State Attorney, Kim Foxx

There was also music provided by the following graduates:

  • Jamal Bakr
  • Manuel Metlock
  • Rayon
  • Lydia Vander Stelt
  • Brandon Lewis

The program originally started in 2015 and now has grown to 80 students, even expanding to Logan Correctional Center. The program includes usually four 12-hour certificates, one for each year, in Foundational Courses, Restorative Arts, Transformative Justice and Pastoral Arts.