Ossining, New York – Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison hosted their inaugural “Pinning Ceremony” for their Finish Line program participants on June 28th. Finish Line, an initiative launched by Hudson Link in July 2022, helps students re-enroll to complete degrees they started while incarcerated, pursue graduate education, or engage in vocational training. The twenty-two students honored at the pinning ceremony will all complete their studies in 2023 with credentials ranging from Master’s, Bachelor’s, and associate degrees to real estate and esthetician licenses.
With the reinstatement of Pell for incarcerated people starting in July for the first time since 1994, one of the criteria the U.S. Department of Education has encouraged programs to consider is how students can continue studying after their release and how many will complete their degrees. Programs like Finish Line are one way college-in-prison programs can help meet the needs of their students who return to the community.
Hudson Link’s Finish Line program provides financial assistance to support tuition, textbooks and supplies, and transportation to campus. A full-time coordinator, Christine Fils-Aime, also aids throughout the planning and application process, covering application fees and transcript fees. Fils-Aime stated the importance of the event, “through the Finish Line program, we have witnessed the transformative impact of education, empowering our students to reimagine their lives and embrace the endless possibilities that lie ahead. As we pin these badges of honor, let us celebrate the resilience and determination exhibited by our graduates. Each pin represents countless hours of studying, writing, and learning—a tangible symbol of their commitment to personal growth and the pursuit of excellence.”
Ismael Diaz, Jr., who started his Bachelor’s in Behavior Science while at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, completed his degree this May from Mercy College with the support of Hudson Link. Diaz, Jr. shared, “I am proud to be a Hudson Link Alumni and a member of the Finish Line program. I assure you that it is not easy. I use my education and experiences every day to run my businesses, as an advocate to help others, and to speak for those who are afraid or unable to speak for themselves.”