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He was an inmate. Now he's a Ph.D., and he wants to pay it forward.

Want to rehabilitate and reintegrate prisoners into society? Offer them education.

He was an inmate. Now he's a Ph.D., and he wants to pay it forward.

For many former convicts, punishment extends far beyond the time they spent in prison.

A National Institute of Justice study found that 60-75% of individuals are unable to find work within the first year of being released from prison. With increased unemployment comes increased chances that they will return to their previous habits, winding up back in prison, and continuing a disturbing cycle.


Photo by Douglas Grundy/Three Lions/Getty Images.

Daniel Geiter knows this struggle firsthand.

In the 1980s and '90s, Geiter found himself spending years at a time in and out of prison for what he describes as "petty-theft-type crimes." He served his time, and, in 1999, set out to get his life back on track — but first, he needed a job.

"You have to background check to get a McDonald's job in Chicago, and there's no landlord in Chicago that doesn't background-check you," Geiter told Upworthy about some of his initial struggles. "In most of those instances, they discriminate against anyone having maybe an arrest, but definitely a conviction on their record."

Photo courtesy of Daniel Geiter. Used with permission.

While Geiter eventually found jobs, it wasn't until he went back to school and earned a degree that he found success and normalcy.

Geiter found that once he attained a college education — he now holds four degrees, including a doctorate in education — he was able to overcome some of the obstacles that kept him unemployed and on the verge of returning to prison.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Geiter. Used with permission.

Now, Geiter wants to provide others in similar situations with the tools they need to stay out of prison. His solution is Ward College, which opens this fall in Chicago.

Ward College has come to exist in part because of Geiter's belief that Illinois is doing a poor job of offering prisoners resources to help get them back on their feet after leaving. While the Illinois Department of Corrections offers some educational opportunities, he believes they can do much more, all while saving some money.

"Our goal is to change the understanding of life after incarceration, because it should be life after incarceration. It shouldn't be a lifetime of incarceration." — Daniel Geiter

Ward College is made up of educators, administrators, and community members that Geiter gathered together.

"My challenge to them and my hypothesis that I presented to them was that if others had the support and the mentorship that I had, then they can be just as successful, if not more than I was."

Photo courtesy of Daniel Geiter. Used with permission.

There's no escaping his criminal past, so Geiter has come to embrace it while showing he can overcome it.

Last year, he put on an orange jumpsuit, laced up his shoes, and set off to walk from Chicago to Springfield (nearly 200 miles) to protest how little the prison system does to actually rehabilitate and reintegrate former inmates back into society.

"My life is eternally wearing that orange jumpsuit," he explained. "As soon as someone does a background check on me, that's how they view me. It doesn't matter what I've accomplished. Our goal is to change the understanding of life after incarceration, because it should be life after incarceration. It shouldn't be a lifetime of incarceration."

Photo courtesy of Daniel Geiter. Used with permission.

"95% of everyone that goes to jail is going to be released," he said, making the case for more programs aimed at rehabilitating offenders.

If all goes according to plan, by this time next year, Geiter will have data about the effect programs like Ward College have on prison recidivism rates.

He hopes the state of Illinois takes notice and begins modeling its own education programs after Ward College.

Until then, he's willing to carry that load as best as he can.

Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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Image by 5540867 from Pixabay

Figuring out what to do for a mom on Mother's Day can be a tricky thing. There's the standard flowers or candy, of course, and taking her out to a nice brunch is a fairly universal winner. But what do moms really want?

Speaking from experience—my kids range from age 12 to 20—a lot depends on the stage of motherhood. What I wanted when my kids were little is different than what I want now, and I'm sure when my kids are grown and gone I'll want something different again.

We asked our readers to share what they want for Mother's Day, and while the answers were varied, there were some common themes that emerged.

Moms of young kids want a break.

When your kids are little, motherhood is relentless. Precious and adorable, yes. Wonderful and rewarding, absolutely. But it's a LOT. And it's a lot all the fricking time.

Most moms I know would love the gift of alone time, either away at a hotel or Airbnb or in their own home with no one else around. Time alone is a priceless commodity at this stage, especially if it comes with someone else taking care of cleaning, making sure the kids are fed and safe and occupied, doing the laundry, etc.

This is especially true after more than a year of pandemic living, where we moms have spent more time than usual at home with our offspring. While in some ways that's been great, again, it's a lot.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
True

"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

Keep Reading Show less