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Board at WeSeminar
Warm greetings from the Center for Prison Education!


Our fourth academic year is drawing to a close and we have quite a lot to celebrate! Since CPE was founded in 2009, Wesleyan professors from across disciplines have taught twenty-six courses to over fifty incarcerated students. Hundreds of Wesleyan undergraduates have engaged in the process by offering academic workshops and college preparatory courses, and serving as teaching assistants, writing tutors, and program interns. Dozens more have participated in service-learning courses and student forums, where they engaged academically with their incarcerated peers. With the incredible dedication of our talented Advisory Board, professors, and students, the program expanded to a second prison, welcoming incarcerated female students into the CPE community for the first time.  


None of this would have been possible without the generous philanthropic support of our donors. As we celebrate four years of exciting accomplishments, fundraising remains our top priority to allow us to maximize our impact and reach. Please consider contributing to CPE as we enter our fifth academic year, and help us to build on the hard work of the last four. 


Thank you, as always, for your continued support of our program.



Lexi Sturdy
CPE Program Manager
3 women
York Expansion 1
JM at Southern
CPE Spring Celebration in New York City  

On May 9th, CPE Advisory Board members concluded their bi-annual meeting with an event honoring the CPE's successes over the preceding academic year. They were joined by Wesleyan faculty and alumni, CPE volunteers and staff, and social justice activists from across the region. The event was held at the lovely Brooklyn home of Greg and Carolyn Berman.

See the full photo album here.
York Expansion Celebration at Wesleyan

This past January, the CPE hosted an event to recognize our expansion to York Correctional Institution, Connecticut's only female prison. The event was a great success, drawing out Wesleyan faculty, staff, students, former inmates, and allies from across the tri-state area. The event was held at Wesleyan's historic Russell House mansion.

Released Students

Of the five CPE students who have been released since enrolling in the program, two are enrolled as full-time college undergraduates and three are in the process of applying for college admission.
We are very proud of their success, and we continue to support their academic achievement in any way that we can!
Highlights from the CPE's Cheshire Campus:
This spring, students from the CPE's first cohort enrolled in an upper-level English course, "Richard Wright and Company," led by Professor Sean McCann. Professor McCann reflects on the experience:


Professor McCann describes his experience teaching at Cheshire
The high point for me in teaching "Richard Wright and Company" at Cheshire this semester was the class when the men had a fierce argument about Gwendolyn Brooks's novel Maud Martha (1953).  Is Brooks's novel about the middle class aspirations of a poor black woman on Chicago's South Side shallow and lacking in awareness?  Or does Brooks's brief, episodic narrative reveal, in its very narrow focus, the concealed suffering and painful adjustment of its protagonist?  The debate raged.

All semester long, the men in my class have engaged in this kind of vigorous and probing discussion about literary aesthetics and the cultural politics they express.  The most exciting thing for me has been to see the men develop their different, often clashing views by pursuing an ever deeper engagement with literary art... The kind of questions they've raised and the debates they've pursued are what any humanities professor yearns for in the classroom.  The class has been equally, if not more, rewarding for me than for the students.
Highlights from the CPE's York Campus:
Springer @ York
Professor Beth Richards and Writing Tutor Emma Vasta-Kuby outside York Correctional
For the first time, the CPE enrolled a cohort of female students and expanded courses to Connecticut's only female prison. CPE student Mary Ames shared this about her first college semester:

The opportunity to study philosophical ethics with Professor Elise Springer has far exceeded any preconceived ideas I came in with. Learning about the theories of many great thinkers both before and during my lifetime has proven secondary to what I've learned about myself through this class. At fifty years old, I surprisingly came to realize the majority of my so-called beliefs weren't actually mine. I'd conditioned myself to take for granted the "authority" of others' opinions without question. Professor Springer has offered me the gift of critical analysis and taught me how to question others by thinking for myself, a gift that has changed me forever. I have a newfound confidence and trust in myself and my own ability to offer something of value to the world. 

Spring Semester Snapshot:


CPE student volunteers Paul Silverman and Zach Fishman speak withProfessor Szegedy-Maszak at an event in New York
  • 40 incarcerated students
  • 6 academic courses 
  • 2 prison campuses
  • 24 student volunteers, representing 11 different academic majors
  • 4 campus-wide events
  • 2 off-campus events
Looking Forward:
  • Summer Algebra workshop at Cheshire C.I. 

  • Summer lecture series at Cheshire C.I. and York C.I.

  • Fall admissions process to enroll a third cohort at Cheshire C.I. 

  • Fall academic courses at both facilities, including:

    • The English Essay, Professor Richards

    • Pre-Calculus, Professor Graham  

    • Performing Shakespeare, Professor Jenkins

    • Intro to Medical Anthropology, Professor Ellenstein 

    • Cross-Cultural Childhoods, Professor Schug

    • Chemistry in the Modern World, Professor McAlear

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