Susan from Chicago, IL

Need books to complete my master's degree in prison

Just finished my B.A. in prison and ready to start a master's program that will prepare me to teach other women in prison and change their lives.


An update from Alexis Feb 26, 2013

I saw Susan on Thursday. She was SO happy. She was very nervous about graduate school, but she just got her first paper back and it was an A!

Susan shares her gratitude Jan 7, 2013

I am grateful beyond words and deeply moved by your help. I am equally grateful and moved by the donors who, with giving hearts, helped me get the books I needed for my studies. This act of kindness has encouraged me even more to pursue this dream and pay forward the kindness shown to me. I can not say this enough times or with enough conviction, but thank you. Thank you so much, for your help and support. This moment, and everyone involved, will forever be in my thoughts and prayers.


I need books for my graduate school classes and help with tuition. This includes books like "Philosophy and Contemporary Issues" by Burr, "What Does It All Mean" by Nagel, and "Herzog" by Bellow. There are several other books as well, and they are all very expensive and add up quickly, especially when I earn less than $50 a month and I will probably earn less than $30 a month if this program is cut.

Meeting this need will help me because I hope one day to teach college courses. To do this, I need to have a master's degree or higher. I absolutely want to teach courses inside the prison, and I think I might be able to make it work, but I need to go through this degree.

This goal to me, when I hear people talk about education, they talk about making a living. For me, I want to do this to make a difference. I want to help people accomplish something. If I can teach them, they will change their whole demeanor. Once they know they can get a degree, even a GED or a vocational degree, they will be able to do so much. I remember when I didn't believe in myself, but now I do. School has made such a difference in my life.

My current situation is that I am incarcerated. I just completed my Bachelor's of Specialized Studies from a special undergrad program. That took a long time. I started that program in 2005. It took me writing letters to so many programs to try and find that program. I had to take exams and find materials to apply and do the school work. I had to write everywhere I could to help get funding to do my undergrad work. 

Over the years I was able to get a couple of scholarships. I received the Jeanette Rankin Scholarship and the Richard J Brackin Scholarship. Those helped a lot. They were huge. That covered almost half of my expenses. I will be officially graduating and getting my degree in January of 2013. My GPA is 3.65 which qualifies me to be cum laude. I feel proud (and SHOCKED!) to be getting an honors at graduation. It's not like I am there in person to talk to the professors like the other students. 

Now I am going to grad school. It still sounds weird to me to call myself a grad student! I can't wait to begin this new journey, but I really need help in financing my classes and books. 

I am very passionate about education. I just want to thank any and everyone who listens to my story. Even if you don't help, even considering it means so very much to me.

I think of myself mostly as a giver. There is just something about empowering another human being that I find personally rewarding.

I'm currently incarcerated in a women's prison. Before prison, I was an elementary school teacher. In prison, I've worked at many jobs, including editing the newspaper here, as a seamstress, and currently I work part time as a GED teaching assistant. The most I've ever made per hour in prison is $1.25.

I went to school at Ohio University through a special college program for the incarcerated. Very few women participate in this program.

I'm most proud of...oh, I don't know where to begin. Even though I am here in prison, I have become free in so many other ways. I've survived so much in my life, and I think when I began this, I didn't realize all I needed to heal from. I'm a survivor of domestic abuse, sexual assault, alcoholism...I've grown spiritually, and I feel like there is so much I can now pass on to the younger women here. I'm proud that I haven't used this time to do time. I've tried to use this time to redeem myself, to leave prison as an addition, an asset wherever I go. 

Something interesting about me is that I love to write. I've written poetry, essays, and I love interviewing for our newpaper here, and I just wrote my very first play! My play is called, "I've Met My Match."

Need funded!

Thank you for helping Susan fund this need.

$495of $480

Need funded!

13 supporters


This need has been validated by Alexis from CLAIM (Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers)

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Validated by Alexis from CLAIM (Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers) (What does this mean?)

We first met Susan through someone else at her prison. We soon learned what a dedicated and amazing woman she is. When you are imprisoned, it is easy to give up. Susan didn't do that. She decided to better herself and those around her. She received her undergrad degree (cum laude!) and got into a grad program for a master's in humanities. She spends her time in the prison tutoring others and helping them receive their GEDs. She is showing her son that he can achieve anything as well. 

I think meeting this need is important because it will help better Susan, and it will inspire those around her. If she is capable of getting her master's while incarcerated, then other women will know that they can get their GEDs. Plus, she will use this degree to better herself and those around her.

Helping Susan go to grad school and get the books she needs will help the other women in prison, as well as Susan's family. It will set an amazing example, and it will also show that no matter your circumstances, you should always continue learning and growing.

Having read all of Susan's essays from her undergrad studies, I can say that she is really intelligent, thoughtful, and gifted. I believe that she deserves this chance, and that she will change a lot of expectations by what she does. 

About Alexis

My job title is Pro Bono and Staff Attorney. I have been in this position since April of 2012. My work involves helping incarcerated mothers, formerly incarcerated mothers, and the caretakers of their children. What I like about my job is I get to see families brought together. In the future, I… Read more

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