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12 Men in Sing Sing Maximum Security Prison to Graduate with a Master of Professional Studies from New York Theological Seminary (NYTS)

On Wednesday June 12th, a dozen incarcerated men from Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York graduated from New York Theological Seminary with a Master of Professional Studies. For almost 40 years, NYTS has provided higher education degrees in theology to incarcerated men and has transformed the lives of over 400 graduates to date. The graduate program prepares men who come from diverse religious backgrounds to become leaders in spiritual service.

“The Sing Sing Correctional Facility and New York Theological Seminary are defining a new model for higher education,” said Rev. Dr. LaKeesha Walrond, President of NYTS. “We are so grateful to the Sing Sing Correctional Facility for their continued commitment to reducing recidivism and incarceration. Today marks the beginning of a new era of opportunity, for NYTS, to be a leader in progressive education for the 21st Century.”

The graduate program, established by former NYTS President Dr. George Webber in 1982, is the only interfaith religious education program in the New York prison system that is exclusively available at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. The curriculum encompasses both theology and ministry and also empowers inmates to develop leadership skills to provide pastoral care upon their release. Candidates considering the program must have attained an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, demonstrated an ongoing commitment of faith and satisfied the other admission requirements set forth by NYTS. Once accepted, inmates participate in the 36-credit program five days a week, which allows them to complete their degree in one year. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the U.S. and Canada and is also registered with the New York State Department of Education.

Graduates often go on to successfully serve in facilities throughout the state as chaplain assistants, peer counselors, or teachers. A number have used their leadership skills to launch inmate-initiated service programs and several are teaching college-level courses offered through Hudson Link, a non-profit educational program developed by NYTS alumni that offers an accredited college degree program in several prisons in Southeastern New York.

Established in 1900, NYTS has prepared women and men for faith-based ministries in New York and throughout the world for over a Century. Among its distinctive attributes is its emphasis on ministry and mission, its openness to both women and men and the diversity of denominational and cultural traditions represented in its student body and alumni.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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