Feb. 5, 2020


by Robert Russell (author's profile)



I originally entered prison with a seventh grade education, a hopeless drug addicted alcoholic.

Having discovered a spiritual path, I now find glory in a life of freedom and recovery, and work in counseling others in recovery. Having now earned three A.A. degrees, as well as a Bachelor in Christian Ministry, I work in the education department here at San Quentin as a teaching assistant as well as an "unofficial" education counselor. I have Microsoft certification in Word, Access, Excel, Powerpoint, as well as my vocational office services and related technologies certificate. I've "maxed out" on educational opportunities in prison. But I have a long way to go, amen.

As of this date, I have earned 88 units from community colleges and approximately 65 from Bible colleges. My combined GPA is above a 3.5.

I am not being promoted to a peer mentor in a new inmate peer literacy program. I will be paid $1 an hour, up from my current 0.11. This rate has me now considering advancing my education to a never before dreamed of level.

Adams State University in Colorado offers a Bachelor Degree program in which they will accept 78 of my units in transfer. I need to complete just 42 units in house (14 courses) to earn their BA degree with a major in business and a minor in social work.

My heart's desire is to begin this next but not yet final stage of my education endeavors in January 2021 and complete four courses per year for the next three and a half years. I can, Lord willing, earn that B.A. degree by June 2024 and then parole in that same year.

Having paroled in the fall of 2024 with my B.A., I am eligible to enter UC Berkeley's graduate school under the Underground Scholars Program. I have made many connections with a Berkeley professor who comes to teach here at San Quentin in my current junior college, which is under the Prison University Project (PUP). I am assured of all the assistance I need in being expected to Berkeley, if I can succeed in this. :)

With my Masters Degree in Psycho, with undergrad in Business, my earning potential is effectively doubled. This equips me to better serve God and others. To work with my hands to provide for my needs and the needs of others, which is what I am called to do.

14 courses @ $615 per = $8,610
$70 books and expenses per 14 = $980

Each six month period, I will need $1,370.

I will only be able to save $370 for that first semester due to state restitution deduction from my inmate payroll ($700 owed). Thereafter I will have approximately $550 towards each semester's fees.

So, I need to raise, either through a loan or fundraising, the following, all of which would go directly to Adams State University:

Jan. 2021 $1,000
July 2021 $800
Jan. 2022 $800
July 2022 $800
Jan. 2023 $800
July 2023 $800
Jan. 2024 $800

Mission complete!

As an added bonus, this will earn an additional 17 months off my time to serve. 42 milestone completion credits and 26 earned merit credits, each credit equals one week off my sentence.

There are many scholarships and grants available for one such as I entering that Underground Scholars Program. I took into consideration my age, the cost/benefit analysis, time off sentence, and all other factors as I thoroughly examined this situation in prayer over a long period of time. Success is assured, I just have no idea how God will enable me to do what He has so clearly outlined for me as His will.

So, I have 11 months to put this together. I will ask both Doc and Dana if they might be willing to build me a GoFundMe page, and I will ask Dad for a loan commitment in the absence of donors.

I weep tears of joy as I now see clearly the Truth of more than we could ever think or imagine. I have this sense that all has changed, my destiny has now begun. I am thrilled by the opportunity to watch Him work this all out! :)


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