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Impact  >  Student Story



Once Dwylisha made up her mind to achieve her goal of obtaining her high school equivalency diploma, she didn’t let the fact that she was incarcerated hold her back. She quickly passed all 5 of the subtests needed to graduate, with especially high scores in math and writing.


For our graduation ceremony at the jail, Dwylisha composed a wise and enthusiastic speech that impressed her instructors, peers, Sheriff’s Department staff, and members of the Durham City Council. In it she remarked, “To us, this is not just a diploma or certificate. It’s the start of a new beginning, it’s the evidence of achievement. It gives us encouragement to change. It gives us back responsibility for our lives. It’s the hope of a future better than our past. It’s a way of loving ourselves. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Since then, Dwylisha has been released and is now reunited with her family. Her next goal is to become a peer support specialist so that she can help others who have struggled like she has. Dwylisha believes in the need for supportive people and programs to help individuals make positive change. As she put it, “I chose to take a bad situation and make something good out of it. That is something for every single person here, to change the negative to a positive. To do that, we need people like you to help make a difference, help push for the things we need. Help be our voice.”

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