Inmates complete BC program

Published 3:56 pm Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A presentation ceremony took place at the Decatur County Prison for a number of inmates who recently completed the Customer Service Certificate Program offered through Bainbridge College (BC).

Eight inmates were presented their certificates by members of the program on Monday in the prison’s visitation room where family members were invited to celebrate their loved one’s achievement.

At the ceremony, Deputy Warden of Care and Treatment Anita Johnson opened by welcoming everyone to the event and congratulating the recipients of the certificate.

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Christina Jackson-Belin, coordinator of the program, expressed how proud she is of all this year’s 27 customer service certificate recipients that had completed their training, which began in January.

“Today you have proven that although it was a long and tough road it is something you can be proud of,” said Jackson-Belin. “Don’t allow the obstacles of the past to hold you down. You are an inspiration to us all.”

Annette Higdon, LPN program assistant at BC, provided words of encouragement to the inmates, being an unconventional student herself. She explained that she attended BC after 26 years in the workforce. She said she plans to continue to further her education and become a social worker and counselor. Higdon encouraged the inmates to go back to school once they are released and further their education.

“No matter what you go through, that’s not where you have to end up,” said Higdon. “Only God and you determine your future, not your past.”

Christine Pugh, assistant principal at Bainbridge High School, provided the training to the inmates for the course.

Speaking at the ceremony, Pugh expressed the amount of joy she had received working with the inmates and how proud she is of all the recipients.

“Hold onto what you have learned,” said Pugh. “Think before you act, think before you talk and think before you write. That skill will carry you so far. Keep doing what you need to do to move forward, hit the ground running and don’t look back.”

Several inmates also spoke about their experience, one reciting an inspirational poem he had written and others giving their sincere thanks to Pugh and the college for providing them with the opportunity to receive the certificate.

The Customer Service Certificate Program has been offered at the prison since 2007 and is offered three times each year.

“It is a great way to encourage inmates to further their education after being released,” said Jackson-Belin said. She said she knows of at least 15 inmates who received their certificates and have enrolled into classes at BC.