We’re launching a storytelling series to profile the accomplishments of past TTEF scholarship recipients. Dylan Rodas received a $1000 scholarship from TTEF in 2017. He has taken classes through the Community College of Rhode Island, the Dantes Program, and Adams State University, where he is currently enrolled. He will receive his Associate’s Degree by Spring 2019. This is his story. Stay tuned for other #TransformationTuesdays. Please donate to help scholars like Dylan reach their full potential.
Growing up, my life was crazy. I lived in a poor area with less than most, struggling everyday to help pitch in to keep a roof over my family’s head. I grew up a very angry kid blaming the world because my mother was sick and couldn’t work or afford the life she wish she could give me and my brothers. I never had a father figure to look up to and had no guidance, so I raised myself in the streets. I had resorted to selling drugs, robbing and fighting to help make money to pitch in for food and bills. I fell into a vicious cycle of violence and jail at a young age because I wanted to be a man and I looked up to all the wrong people and found myself in all the wrong crowds.
Before I knew it I didn’t recognize myself, I stopped going to school and became a career criminal. It was easier to sell drugs than to go to school and graduate. The older I got the more serious and violent I got and everytime I went to jail I met new people and became a better criminal. I was lost and thought I could do anything and get away with it until I got caught. It wasn’t until I was eighteen and caught eleven years to serve for me to open my eyes and make a change. At first it was really hard for me to stay out of trouble with my old mindset. But I started getting my education and everything changed for the better.
Since I’ve been in prison I have changed my life around and earned my G.E.D. and earned twenty seven college credits through the Community College of Rhode Island and the Dantes Program. I also am currently enrolled in Adams State University taking a business course and I am taking three courses at CCRI and two more courses through Datnes program this semester thanks to TTEF. If it wasn’t for this scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to pay for these courses.
My education has come to mean a great deal to me. I never thought I had the brains to do college but by this time next year I will have an Associates degree in general studies. I will be the first person in my family to go to college and get a degree. This motivates me so much and inspires to do so much more with my life. My family is so proud of me for my changes and accomplishments. It made me feel amazing when I inspired my brother to change his ways and pursue an education at a vocational school. I would have to say coming to jail and getting an education changed my perspective on life. In all reality, it has shown me another way out without having to sell drugs.
My future plans are to get my Associates degree at CCRI and then pursue my Bachelors degree with the help of TTEF hopefully. I have been staying in contact with a friend at the Department of Labor and Training who is going to help me get a grant to go to New England Tech to do a welding training program once release from prison. Which will give me the opportunity to work at General Dynamics Electric Boat. I would also really like to help other inmates like me get scholarships and opportunities to get an education in prison because most of us just need some guidance and a chance. But with scholarships like TTEF it gives a chance to move forward in life.