This is the second installment of our Scholar Spotlight. Marcus Lopes received a scholarship from TTEF in 2016. He has taken classes through the Community College of Rhode Island and the Dantes Program where he is currently enrolled. He plans to transfer his credits to a 4 year university after release. This is his story. Stay tuned for other #TransformationTuesdays. Please donate to help scholars like Marcus reach their full potential.
Before my incarceration I had no goals, no dreams, no motivation and no direction in life. I basically lived by the day, moment to moment on a self-destructive path. This path led me to my current circumstances which was 18 years to serve in prison. I began my bid in 2012 at 20 years old with a baby on the way.
From the day I entered prison, my focus was on getting out as soon as possible, which would be parole eligibility after 6 years. I spent countless hours strategizing on what I thought I would need to impress the parole board. During this time, I’ve seen many faces released only to return within months. Some of those faces may never see the streets again. During my journey, I started to shift my focus from how I can get out to how I can stay out, and more importantly, how I got myself into this situation to begin with so I don’t repeat the same mistakes. I spent a lot of time self-analyzing and introspecting.
Many nights the reality of my situation would hit me and I would feel hopeless. That is until I was introduced to the Transcending Through Education Foundation. I applied for a scholarship never thinking that they would actually choose me. The driving force behind my application was that if they could do it, become successful despite the odds, then why couldn’t I? Through the scholarship, they showed me that they believed in me and would support my efforts. The scholarship has paid for textbooks to study and the tests for those courses. If you have the funds, you can study a DSST DANTES course and pay to take the test when you are ready. DANTES is a college-credit equivalency program where you study the complete content of a course and then take a “challenge exam” that yields three college credits if passed. Besides the DANTES course, I also take CCRI courses offered here in the prison when available.
Education is how I can not only shorten my stay in prison, but acquire the skills needed to remain out of prison and support not only myself but also my son. Today I have goals, I have dreams, and am motivated to transcend my current circumstances. I am planning to transfer over my credits to a four year institution upon my release and earn at least a bachelor’s degree. I would like a career where I can make a difference in people’s lives, look forward to work everyday, and look forward to being a productive member of society. My dream is to one day worth with the youth and steer them from making the mistakes that I’ve made. I’m not sure exactly what it will be, but at least now I know the direction I am heading.