Marietta-based Life University announced that on Monday 11 students who are incarcerated at Lee Arrendale State Prison in Alto will graduate with an Associate of Arts degree in Positive Human Development and Social Change (PHDSC).

The students have earned an average, cumulative GPA of 3.9 and all will go on to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. They have also become teachers and mentors, supporting one another and sharing what they have learned with their incarcerated peers, as well as their own families.

This will be the first class of students in a Georgia State Women’s Prison to graduate from an accredited college degree program since 1994, when Pell Grants were banned for incarcerated people as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. They will also be the first to graduate from an accredited degree program offered by a college or university based in Georgia in any prison in the state since that time. Only New Orleans Baptist Seminary has provided accredited college degree programs to people in men’s prisons in Georgia since 1994.

The Chillon Project is an undertaking of Life University to address the incarceration crisis by expanding access to higher education for incarcerated people, correctional staff and returning citizens in the state of Georgia. The initiative takes its name from the poem by Lord Byron entitled, “The Prisoner of Chillon.” Life’s founder and first president, Dr. Sid Williams, recited passages of this poem to draw attention to how environments influence people’s lives.

The curriculum of the program merges the best practices of business and psychology and focuses on developing social entrepreneurs and transformative leaders.

Founded in Marietta in 1974, Life University is a health sciences institution most known for its chiropractic program, the largest single campus chiropractic program in the world.

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