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.
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
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.
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.”