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Previously Incarcerated Students Form Re-Entry Club at Clark College

Clark students who have been incarcerated created a club so they would have a safe and supportive space to talk about barriers and other issues that they deal with while attending school.

Picture of Justin Lacks
Justin Lacks President of the Re-Entry Club said he wants to help youth stay out of trouble.

Justin Lacks is president of the Re-Entry Club . “In the college I have met people that are warm and open that conquer adversity,” he said. 

In addition to studying welding at Clark, he said he also wants to create a program to help youth who are foster kids and or kids with single parents channel out their emotions. “All kids can be fixed but, the prison system doesn’t work,” said Lacks. 

At least one student in the club is willing to go the extra mile to be a member. Tosha Big Eagle who lives in Longview said she drives an hour each day to get school. She said she attends Clark instead of the college closer to her because Clark was the only school that provided help for students that have been incarcerated.  

Big Eagle said that she attended college in 2002 but said she stopped because she felt like her

picture of Tosha Big Eagle
Tosha Big Eagle said she is inspired by her family to continue her education.

criminal history was too big of a barrier. “I applied to a fast food place and the manager said it was a big risk,” said Big Eagle. “It was discouraging.” 

“My son inspired me to come back,” said Big Eagle. “I knew that for me to care for my child and family and be able to provide for them I needed an education. It is the best insurance that the re-entry students don’t go into incarceration again.”  

Currently she is working on getting her Associates degree in addiction counseling at Clark. Then Big Eagle will be transferring to WSUV in the fall and getting her bachelors degree in Human Development.

Big Eagle said one of her favorite moments at Clark was getting the letter that she was receiving scholarships. “Because I put my life out there and talked about the barriers and things that I had to overcome in life,” said Big Eagle.

Picture of Timothy Tipton
Timothy Tipton is said he looks forward to his future graduation.

Timothy Tipton started at Clark this fall and is also a member of the Re-Entry Club. He said the reentry club “provides me a sense of community.” 

“One of the things that I like about Clark is that I feel at home here,” he said. “I love all the events and taking part in school activities. I also like to look at my transcripts and see that I did good.” Said Tipton.

He is working towards his associate degree in computer science.  “I wanted to do something different with my life that didn’t involve doing crimes,” said Tipton. “I want to graduate from WSUV and work in the technology field.” Said Tipton.

Tiption was enrolled at Clark even before he was released from prison.“My future goals are to have a job, house and a family.” 

 

One Comment

  1. It’s wonderful to see these dedicated students highlighted! Congrats to all of them for taking the initiative to come to Clark and building a positive community here. They are inspirational. Our college is fortunate to have people like Hanan Al-Zubaidy, Corrections Education Navigator for Clark College at Larch Corrections Center, and Angelica Pravettoni, Re-entry Navigator and Academic Advisor in Clark College’s Workforce Education Services office who advocate for and assist people in transitioning into higher education even if they are experiencing unique barriers from having been involved with the justice system. Every single Clark College student is owed as much support as our school can give and these students are no exception.

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