In his valedictory address at the Western Nevada College graduation inside Northern Nevada Correctional Center, Shane Johnson encouraged his fellow graduates to consider their time behind bars more than “just a waste of time.”
“It’s a time for reflection and growth,” he said. “Having the opportunity to better ourselves through education changes the balance.
“We are more than a crime and a number.”
This week, 11 offenders from the Nevada Department of Corrections joined a total of 581 graduates this year from Western Nevada College.
“It’s a great partnership with Western Nevada College,” said NDOC Deputy Director Bill Quenga. “I’m really proud to be working with WNC to be providing these classes and these opportunities for our population.”
Six offenders from Northern Nevada Correctional Center received their diplomas on Tuesday, and five from Warm Springs Correctional Center received theirs on Thursday.
In a recorded message, Gov. Steve Sisolak congratulated the graduates from both institutions.
“Each of you should be immensely proud,” Sisolak said. “I know getting here wasn’t easy. What matters is you didn’t give up. Now, as a graduate, you are better prepared to take on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”
Rickey Massey, valedictorian of the Warm Springs Correctional Center cohort, said the college classes available inside prison have had a profound effect on him and his classmates.
“I’ve seen the difference this makes in men’s lives,” he said. “We may feel as though we were once forgotten by society. However, we made mistakes, and we can recover from those mistakes. It’s all about going forward.”
Fernandeis Frazier, warden of WSCC, urged the graduates to persevere in their pursuit of self-improvement.
“Let this not be the end of your journey to better yourself,” he said.
NDOC’s graduates from Western Nevada College
Northern Nevada Correctional Center: Emmanuel Caballero, Matthew Williams, Shane Johnson, Marc Fraide, Djan Fermaint and Brian Brown.
Warm Springs Correctional Center: Shane Myers, Danny Shaw, Robert Stoltz, Donald Fleming and Rickey Massey.