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It was the first year the prison has partnered with the university to offer an academic scholarship to an inmate.
For Trista Chandara, 26, who received the scholarship, it’s opened up a new world of possibility.
"In the seventh grade, I had high honors; by the eighth grade I failed all my classes," Chandara said in her speech to her fellow graduates. "I thought school was torture. Now, it’s the thing I’m starving for."
The Utah Department of Corrections coordinates with the Canyons School District in Draper and South Sanpete School District in Gunnison to provide high school equivalency programs to its prisoners.
Several county jails that house inmates also work with local school districts to provide educational programs.
As the graduates exited the gymnasium, several held their heads higher. They were no longer fidgeting with their robes, no longer removing their caps and wringing their hands.
Diplomas held tight, the graduates walked past large loopy letters scrawled on white cinder block walls:
"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from iron will."
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