TEHACHAPI, Calif. (KGET) – They spent years behind bars, now they’re graduating from Cerro Coso Community College.
Thursday, inmates at California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi received associates degrees.
Seventeen inmates walked the stage this morning to receive associate degrees in sociology, anthropology, and psychology.
“I never actually knew that I was worth college,” said Guillermo Hartman, graduate. “I never actually believed that this could be done.”
Hartman says this is his fourth prison term – having spent most of his life behind bars.
“I’ve been doing time since the late ’80s,” said Hartman.
Hartman says it wasn’t easy, but with hard work and the right motivation he was able to get through it.
“My main motivation is my kids,” said Hartman. “Now that I’m getting older, I understand it. Whatever I leave on this earth is what I teach them, and I want them to know what they’re worth.”
And the best part of all, his mom was there to see it, he said.
“She’s been to so many negative situations for me, watching me get sentenced, going to so many court dates that it means the world to me that she’s here for this,” said Hartman.
“I am very very thankful, very thankful to God that I have seen my son grow so much, he’s a different man,” said Bertha Miller, Hartman’s mom.
A new man with an AA in liberal arts and social behaviors.
“I feel very excited for once, I’m very happy,” said Hartman. “I know that I can be a productive member of society now. I know that I can keep learning, keep earning degrees and I might as well. I did the wrong things for so long, now I’m going to give myself the time to do the right things.”
Hartman says his release date is December 2. He says he plans to go back home to San Diego and apply to the California State University of San Diego and continue his studies.