The following was written by our incarcerated participants. It is intended primarily for their families, but we wanted to share it with you so that you can get a glimpse of what we do inside of prison… from the perspectives of our participants!
Week 7: Week in Review
PEP Participant Andrew W. Using his Toastmaster Skills to Speak to Executive Volunteers at PEP’s Concept Day (click for other pics from the day)
Monday, February 17, 2014 — Today was Toastmasters as usual, yet that’s not entirely true. Why? Because there was a calm that settled in and that made these Toastmasters whom I saw today scarcely resemble the “fraidy cat” versions seen earlier in class. Men laughed, smiled and delivered speeches with a new confidence. It really was a sight to behold. I don’t think any of us dared to believe that we could actually become competent public speakers, but week by week we actually see the miracle taking place — truly amazing.
Math is fun… 😦
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 — Today was perhaps the most dreaded Tuesday of all: we were given our tests on EOU’s (economics of one unit). Basically, we needed to calculate our profit margins on one typical unit of sale and use that information to determine things like gross profit, breakeven points and net profits in various business scenarios. For those born without the math gene, gulp! True to form, the EOU test gave nearly two thirds of our class extra homework (more EOU’s). One way or the other, we’ll get them down, for we are TRIUMPHANT 21.
The Refining Fire of PEP Continues Its Work in Our Lives
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 — Peer educator Bryan Troy (a.k.a. Cruella De Vil) led us in a fascinating recap of a couple of chapters in personal finance. We learned about how much a daily cup of coffee saved at an 8% rate would be over 20 years. Suffice it to say, a cup of Starbucks a day keeps a dream home away! We also had a “town hall meeting” to address a growing weariness in us from all the assignments, tests and homework. We were told that we are trudging the same difficult stretch that all previous classes have bogged down on as well, and we were encouraged not to lose heart. The heat of the refining fire is doing its work and it’s not always comfortable. If it were easy, everyone would do it. But it’s not, so only the proud few band together as brothers to unite and see each other through PEP style.
Thursday, February 20, 2014 — Let’s call today prep day. We mainly practiced our 3- minute pitches on each other in preparation for presenting them in front of a panel of executives tomorrow. Memorizing the most important 3 minutes worth of our business concepts and delivering it passionately and flawlessly to a panel of experts strikes the fear of God in most of us. We needed that practice, because iron sharpens iron.
Class 21 Participant Receives Feedback on His Pitch From Executive Volunteers. Click to see more photos from the day!
Friday, February 21, 2014 — Oh my word! What a day! Class 21 took turns presenting pitches to a panel of executives (think Shark Tank) in an event called Venture Capital Panel (VCP). While butterflies certainly swarmed our bread baskets, the word I would use to summarize the day would be COURAGE. Triumphant 21 stepped up to the plate and delivered despite the fear, displaying courage I’m not sure we knew we possessed. We changed today, but we weren’t alone. The bewildered look upon the faces of the first time executives said it all. Prison isn’t supposed to be like this. Today we experienced life, abundant life. (To see photos from the day, click here.)
A group of Class 21 Participants with some of the MBA Volunteers for Concept Day. Click to see more photos from the day!
Saturday, February 22, 2014— Would Concept Day live up to the emotional peaks we scaled only the day before? All we had to do was fasten our seat belts to see. We were visited by a bevy of Texas A&M students as well as several young teachers from Teach For America, and of course some executive “repeat attenders.” Again we met one-on-one to hone our business concepts, and once again hearts collided. It’s hard to tell who impacted whom the most. The excitement really began when we gave our repeat attendees their sweet names (for the men) and tough names (for the women). Now they are truly one with us, part of the PEP family. Just ask Mike, whom we now call “Precious Moments.” (To see photos from the day, click here.)
PEP Class 17 Graduate Roger R. is one of our awesome Peer Educators who Volunteers to Guide Class 21
As the days grow long and weeks get shorter, stay consistent with your studies and learn from all your endeavors. For the road less traveled is the one traveled by courageous men we call PEP brothers.
-Roger R. (a.k.a. Rainbow Bright)