PEP Celebrates First Graduates from WERDCC

The end of the Fall 2023 semester marked a significant milestone for PEP’s campus at the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center in Vandalia, MO – the program’s first graduates! Five PEP students – Sandra Dallas, Theresa Fortner, Teri Morrison, Patty Prewitt, and Riana Sanders – earned their associate in arts degrees, becoming the first group of incarcerated women to earn a Washington University degree in the university’s history. All members of PEP’s inaugural 2022 class at WERDCC, these students have played a central role in paving a path for liberal arts education for incarcerated women in Missouri. This spring, they will be joined by a second group of students completing degrees at WERDCC at the conclusion of the Spring 2024 semester; together, PEP looks forward to celebrating their accomplishments at the first-ever Washington University commencement ceremony to be held at WERDCC. 

PEP Director Kevin Windhauser reflected on the accomplishments of PEP’s Fall 2023 WERDCC graduates: “In the Spring of 2022, I taught an introductory writing course to our first-ever group of WERDCC students – their very first college course. My course met at 08:00am, and my students often arrived exhausted from long days spent working jobs at the facility and catching up on their reading and writing assignments. Nonetheless, they showed up to each class with determination and grit, gamely taking on everything thrown their way and getting stronger with every assignment and every class period. It’s no surprise to me, then, to see students from this cohort begin to earn WashU degrees (with more soon to come). I couldn’t be more impressed with everything they’ve done to prove that serious, intensive, in-person university studies can thrive at WERDCC.” 

One member of the Fall 2023 graduating class, Theresa Fortner, also celebrated returning home in December 2023, and joined the university’s Fall 2023 recognition ceremony. Dallas, Morrison, Prewitt, and Sanders have all embarked on their bachelors degree studies at WERDCC.


  1. I personally know all of u guys and I know this college keeps u guys on ur toes. Keep up the good work so proud of u.

  2. I also obtained my Associates of Science degree while I was in prison. I know the wonderful milestone this is for these women. I served 27 years in prison and was released in 2022. When I was in prison there was no Pell Grants so I had to pay for my own college tuition. To learn more about my educational journey just Google Bobby Bostic. When I left prison I was working on my Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology

  3. Congratulations Ladies how exciting to be able to say you did this! That you had True Grit to complete it. Keep on keeping on. You are in my prayers
    XOX 🙏

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