Inmates at Riverbend Receive Degrees Through Lipscomb University

Inmates at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution earned degrees via Lipscomb University's LIFE program.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Four inmates at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution (RMSI) received Associate of Arts degrees through Lipscomb University’s Lipscomb Initiative for Education (LIFE) program. The graduation ceremony, held on Thursday, May 16, marked the first time college degrees were awarded to students at Riverbend through this program.

The ceremony featured traditional commencement elements, with faculty and students donning regalia and processing into the event. As part of the LIFE program, inmates received face-to-face instruction from university professors at the prison one night a week, earning college credits for their courses. This achievement represents nearly a decade of study and work for the graduates.

“Education opens doors to opportunity, and it does so no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in. You’ve shown no matter where you are, you can redefine your future,” said Lipscomb President Candice McQueen during the ceremony.

Following this milestone, the graduates will now have the opportunity to work towards a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree from Lipscomb University.

The LIFE program began in 2007 at the Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center (DJRC) and expanded to Riverbend in 2013. Since its inception, the program has awarded 25 Associate of Arts degrees, 13 Bachelor of Professional Studies degrees, and 8 Master of Arts in Christian Ministry degrees to inmates. Typically, it takes around ten years for a student to complete a bachelor’s degree, seven years for an associate degree, and four years for a master’s degree within this program, compared to the traditional timelines of four to five years, two years, and one year, respectively.

Learn more at Lipscomb LIFE Program.

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