The following was written by incarcerated men who are participating in the Prison Entrepreneurship Program’s Class 22 “Business Plan Competition.”

Week 1 in Review

Tuesday, 08 July 2014

We entered the PEP classroom surprised by the graduates lined up for us. They gave us high-fives, pats on the shoulders and hugs to welcome us to this new chapter in our lives. What a feeling! After all that, we gathered into groups by pods and had a dance-off in the center of the room. It was a surprise to see how many guys can dance – it was also a joke to see how many guys cannot dance.

The fun didn’t last too long, though. “Everything under your chairs, test time!”  We took the AP Style test and PEP’s Survival Rules test. The real test of the day came when Pat M. gave the entire class homework: two copies of AP Style, two business vocabulary lists and two 10 Driving Values lists. Basically, this is a lot of handwritten homework. We were surprised and curious when Pat gave us this minor test. Being Transcendent 22, though, we will get it done as part of our efforts to change our lives no matter what it takes.

Wednesday – 09 July 2014

Today, again, we walked into the PEP classroom, where different graduates showed up sharing the same PEP love as yesterday. Again, it was test time. After business vocabulary and personal finance tests, the fun began. Anyone up for balloon popping? What does balloon popping involve? Mass hysteria, adrenaline and tons of fun. Around the room men were all smiles and having fun. It is an amazing feeling to experience community, happiness and fun despite our circumstances.

Thursday – 10 July 2014

Testing, testing… Our final two tests were given. A collective sigh of relief was heard throughout the unit.

We were joined again by two members of the PEP staff to discuss their favorite of PEP’s 10 Driving Values. Kristie (a.k.a. Mimi) discussed Servant-Leader Mentality and showed a video on the life of Bill Crawford. Afterwards, Al (a.k.a. Granny Panties) shared his favorite Driving Value: “Fresh-Start” Outlook. Al told his story and shared his reasons for his dedication to the PEP way of life.

Friday –  11 July 2014

Class 22 was treated to a visit by Dr. John Younker today. Dr. Younker specializes in maximizing performance at the executive level in corporate America. He utilizes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in his approach to building and sustaining effective relationships. Class 22 was all ears as Dr. Younker explained the goal of his role in our development and future growth after release. Throughout this first week, the love and encouragement has been constant. The layers of a hardened outer skin are beginning to peel back. For the first time in a long time, the future looks amazing.

Expressions

“Be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.”

– W.E.B. Du Bois

There is nothing so hopeful as a new beginning. From the guests through the tests to the chicken dancing, each step becomes a chance to participate in our own new creation – ourselves.

We send special thanks to PEP staff for their steadfast commitment to this revolution. Thank you for being here Kristie, Phi, Pat, Mike, Al, Marcus, Jeremy, and special guest Sara. Your participation in the Class Transcendent 22 internal kickoff makes you Transcendent.

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