Gina was released from prison on November 20th, 2011 with no idea of what she was going to do and how she would keep herself from going back. She’d already done over 10 years behind bars. She met Post-Prison Education Program when they came to do a presentation at the Washington Corrections Center for Women.

“I was scared to death of school and I wanted to latch on because they seemed to be so happy, they seemed to be a family, and they seemed to be genuine.”

Gina holding her dog, with some of her PPEP family

She walked into the office and was immediately sent down to the school to apply for a brand new scholarship that had never been awarded to anyone called the “Fabian Scholarship.” She thought she had blown it. She went back to the office and told Ari her fears, and before she could even finish telling him about it, she received a call that she had gotten the scholarship.

She later got the letter in the mail from Seattle Central Community College and it stated, “Gina McConnell, you are accepted.”

“I know that everybody gets accepted to Community College, but something inside of me clicked.  I knew I could not survive without the Post-Prison Education Program and an education.”

Gina has accomplished a lot since her release in 2011 and she attributes a lot of her success to the Program. She has testified at legislative sessions, gone inside many prisons to tell her story in the hope that she could change somebody else’s life, and she’s now a Certified Peer Support Specialist. She works at Love Overwhelming, with people experiencing homelessness. She also works for Janus Youth with teens who have experienced sexual abuse and trafficking. She goes into the work release and county jail to talk to people about how education has changed her life. She didn’t picture this life when she was released. She had imagined going back out into the drug world, because that was the only thing she knew.

In addition to the new family she has at the Program, she also got her family back. She married her soulmate and is now a grandmother.

“I never thought I would be anything but the street Monger I was. The support of this program proved me wrong.”