The Jewett Center for Community Partnerships is excited to announce that Victoria Justice has joined the Center for Prison Education team as the Program Coordinator.
Victoria most recently served as the Second Chance Pell Site Coordinator for Glenville State College in Glennville, WV, where she was responsible for administration and student support for Glenville’s Second Chance Pell program at Huttonsville Correctional Center and the Federal Correctional Institution in Gilmer county. Prior to Glenville, Victoria volunteered for Georgia State University’s Prison Education Project, where she provided administrative and academic support, taught a summer class in American Government and Politics at the US Penitentiary in Atlanta, and led a weeklong course at a summer research institute focused on prison reform and re-establishing citizenship. Victoria has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Political Science from Georgia State University.
This Q&A provides an opportunity for us to learn more about Victoria and her new role as the Program Coordinator:
What got you interested in prison education?
I was inspired by my political philosophy professor, Dr. Peter Lindsay, while studying at Georgia State University. I began participating in Dr. Lindsay’s philosophy courses at the Atlanta Transitional Center (ATC) and the experience opened my eyes to the incredible impact that higher education has on individual lives. Each week I would watch our students fully immerse themselves into the stories that we read. It was in those moments when I realized how starved these men were for an education. While our students were physically trapped behind the walls of a prison, they were able to enter a classroom in which their minds were free. The intellect and passion I saw in our students motivated me to do my part in providing equitable access to higher education in places where it is not traditionally accessible.
How do you think your experience at other organizations will guide your work at Wesleyan?
I believe my experiences at other organizations will be there to guide me in a way that takes consideration to all of the moving parts of this program. Spending time in different roles has taught me to value so many different aspects of this field of work. As a volunteer, I found value in helping out where I was needed. As a teacher, I found value in being able to engage with my students after long hours of researching course materials, creating assignments, and finalizing other preparations for class. As a site coordinator, I found value in the interdepartmental collaboration that allowed for a well functioning program. This work is collective, and having some experience in different roles has taught me to respect and value all of the work that is being done across the board.
What excites you about the Program Coordinator position?
I am very excited to join such a wonderful team! I have been given an incredible opportunity to help facilitate a rigorous and transformative higher education program inside both a men’s and women’s correctional facility in Connecticut. Our team is working hard to provide an array of academic opportunities for our CPE students as well as re-entry support and networking opportunities for our CPE alumni. It is my greatest hope to impact our students and our program in a positive and meaningful way.
What are you doing these days to relax or have fun?
I absolutely love to explore new cities and countries! However, given the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19, I am waiting to resume my travels until after the world starts healing. My time outside of work has mostly turned into painting, hiking, and learning to play the ukulele!