PEP has had a big year in 2022!! From the launch of our second degree program at the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center in Vandalia, MO to our celebration of 18 new PEP graduates at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center, it’s been a full and exciting year. Here are some of our most exciting achievements this year:
January: PEP launches second degree program at WERDCC.
In the Spring 2022 semester, PEP offered its first for-credit courses at WERDCC, the culmination of years of work to expand PEP’s college degree and reentry programs to serve incarcerated women. In 2022, students at WERDCC took six WashU courses, published creative writing, and piloted new learning technologies.
May: PEP celebrates graduation at MECC.
On May 25th, 2022 PEP was proud to celebrate its second ever graduation ceremony at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center. PEP awarded 18 degrees to MECC students. PEP’s graduation ceremony was featured in the June 8, 2022 edition of The Source, including a video featuring remarks from Chancellor Andrew D. Martin, guest speaker Mitchell S. Jackson, and student commencement speakers Larry Marshall and Jacob Bitters.
June: PEP and Prison Performing Arts stage first-ever collaborative production.
On Wednesday, June 29th and Thursday, June 30th, eight Washington University Prison Education Project students performed in the The Taming of the Shrew(s), the first-ever co-production between PEP and St. Louis-based Prison Performing Arts. An original adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, the play, written by Katharine Cognard-Black and revised and edited by Elizabeth Charlebois, examines three strikingly different versions of the relationship between Petruchio and Katherine.
PEP students acting in the play were Sandra Dallas, Jasmine Ford, Deborah Huber, Patty Prewitt, Dylan Staudte, Tessa Van Vlerah, Amy Walker, and Natasha White. In addition to rehearsing and preparing for the play, six PEP students took a two-credit course, “Reading Shakespeare,” taught by Professor Charlebois. As part of this PEP course, students examined Shakespeare’s works, their original contexts, and the long history of adapting Shakespeare’s works.
August: PEP launches reentry workshops with support from Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis.
In August, the PEP reentry team launched the first in a series of twelve capacity-building workshops focused on financial literacy, health (including mental health), and technology for recently released PEP students and their families. With support from the Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis, PEP also hired alumni Sam Densing as a part-time Alumni Education Coordinator to help develop and implement this programming. These workshops allow participants to acquire the skills and knowledge essential for completing their degrees and/or pursuing employment opportunities that use their educational training.
September: PEP brings “Big Read” programming to MECC and WERDCC.
With funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, current and prospective PEP students read and explored Madeline Miller’s Circe, alongside Emily Wilson’s translation of Homer’s Odyssey, at both MECC and WERDCC. Reading groups led by PEP staff and faculty were complemented with lectures from WashU faculty experts, enabling participants to explore questions of gender, translation, literary adaptation, and more in these powerful works.
December: PEP students, faculty, and staff celebrate a successful year with holiday banquets at MECC and WERDCC.
PEP culminated the year by celebrating the academic and personal achievements of our students and alumni at two holiday banquets, held at both MECC and WERDCC. Alongside food and entertainment, PEP staff and faculty gathered to toast our students’ achievements, including the highest-ever enrollment semester in PEP’s history and five graduating students in the fall semester.