Graduation Announcement: Jameel Spann

Please join us in celebrating Jameel Spann’s graduation! Jameel is a PEP alumnus who graduated with a B.S. in Integrated Studies from Washington University in St. Louis this month. He took classes in the Washington University Prison Education Project during its nascent stages and now works for the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to establish connections between all higher education in prison programs throughout the country. He plans to continue his education after the completion of his undergraduate studies by pursuing a law degree.

All while balancing school, work, and family commitments, Jameel maintained committed to his education, and his academic excellence has been recognized by his election to Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and one of the most prestigious honor societies for the liberal arts and sciences, and Alpha Sigma Lambda, a national nontraditional student honor society that recognizes adult students who achieve and maintain high scholastic standards while balancing other life responsibilities. Jameel was selected to serve as the School of Continuing & Professional Studies marshal in the May 2020 Washington University commencement ceremony. He was also featured in the #WashU20 Postcards of Appreciation campaign, which celebrated outstanding students from the Washington University Class of 2020.

Congratulations, Jameel! We are all so proud of you and wish you the best for your bright future. You have accomplished so much in such a short period of time, and we have no doubt that trajectory will only continue. Because we were unable to celebrate with you in person, we wanted to pass along some congratulatory messages from your peers and supporters.

Hotel Ndugu

The first time I met you was through Louis, someone who was at M.E.C.C. with us as well. We were doing the prison version of insanity, (pan sanity). The work out was extremely hard and tiresome. Anyway, you didn’t know me from a can of paint but regardless of that you were right there in my face, pushing me to keep going, never quit. I was already in the program, and when I found out you were on your way in, I knew immediately you were going to make a huge impact. No one would have guessed it was going to be to this magnitude.

Jameel, we didn’t really know each other well, but my brother, I wanna congratulate you on all that you have achieved, including the extension of your growing family. You’ve made us all so proud up here at the PEP and we wish you nothing but more success.

-59-(Marshall, Larry)

Jamel first of all congratulations bro. From the time you and I spent inside of this gated community together, I know that the one thing that you wanted to do more than anything was turn your life around, because you learned the dire results of a bad choice from what brought you to this gated community. I respect, and love you bro, and look forward to seeing you in the near future on that side of life. Bro words cannot express how proud of you I am. I remember the first class I had with you, and you said to us,” I am going to teach y’all how to be college students.” Your words raised the bar, and no one wanted to be the quite one anymore. I leave you with these words from Dru Ali, “the man who stands upon the corners of the paths and points the way, but does not go is just a pointer; and a block of wood can do the same. The teacher treads the way; on every span of ground he leaves his footprints, clearly cut, which all can see and be assured that he their master, went that way.” Circle 7, Chapter 4, Verses 15 & 16.

You my brother have led the way of what success after the gated community looks like.

Love beyond death & madness
Torey “T. D.” Adams

Dear Jameel,

You have persevered through so much. I personally witnessed some of your toughest journey and you always handled it with respect and class. You have kept on such a bright light which has helped me stay focused. I wanted to give up and quit so many times. Every time that thought reared its ugliness I thought of all the work you put in and the pathway you began to clear for more of us to join you. We have issues inside here and out there that have gone on way to long. The inspiring message you sent a couple weeks ago has continued to fuel me to keep pushing forward. Congratulations, knowing you, and how brilliant you are, this is just another step to something much larger. I always knew you would do very well. Enjoy this, stay healthy and safe, see you in a few months.

To: Mr. Jameel Spann,

Congratulations on all of your achievements thus far, we all hope to be where you are in the near future. I am tremendously proud of you and what you have been able to accomplish. I am also excited about the example that you and others are setting for those of us who desire to transition into society in a similar fashion to the Danforth Campus. I really like the mantra that you have used with great enthusiasm, “striving to thrive.” For we all also, look forward to having the opportunity to experience our lives– striving to thrive as well. Continue to do well, for you are a great example of staying focused! I hope to see many others following your lead, myself included.

Mark Boyd


We had hoped you would be serving as a marshal in the May 2020 graduation ceremony. You were chosen for the honor because of your commitment to academic excellence and your resilience despite multiple challenges—two qualities at the core of School of Continuing & Professional Studies students.


Pat Matthews

Jameel, it has been an honor and a pleasure to work with you! You have extraordinary intelligence, passion for justice, and resilience.

You have already made a positive difference in the world, and I know you will continue to do so. Congratulations on your graduation and your well-deserved academic honors. Please stay in touch as you navigate your bright future!

Warm wishes,


Mr. Spann,

Congratulations on reaching this goal, sir! When I heard the news of this accomplishment, I had to make time to send you this note. I am sure that you are excited about what lies ahead, and probably already preparing for the next chapter in your academic journey! Well, please allow me be one of the first to say, keep grinding and setting new goals for yourself. This is just the beginning for you and I have feeling that you are preparing for something great!

I wish you continued blessings!

Kindest regards,
George Winston

My first introduction to Jameel was during a PPA performance, and at the beginning of the performance, he introduced himself as someone who liked to read. I immediately thought that he would be a great fit for PEP, so after the show, I talked to him and encouraged him to apply (as did several others). He was admitted to PEP that spring, and he has been an incredibly positive and and inspiring presence in PEP ever since. Jameel was released from MECC in early April, 2017, three weeks before the end of the semester while he was taking my Introduction to American Literature class. We met in my office on campus for those last few weeks of the semester. Even while he was getting used to living with his sister and her family, learning how to use new technology (his cell phone was particularly baffling at first), and worrying about how he was going to finish his degree and support himself, he finished the readings and assignments and completed the class on time that spring. His ability to juggle those competing demands was a testimony to his sharp intellect and his strong commitment to education. He continued to work hard, balancing the various demands on his life, and despite all the obstacles placed in his way, he has not only finished his degree, but did so with great success, as indicated by his invitation to Phi Beta Kappa!

Barbara Baumgartner