Notre Dame and Holy Cross lead transformational liberal arts education program at Indiana prison

Full Article

University of Notre Dame College of Arts and Letters on August 13, 2016 by Josh Weinhold

Kris remembers the moment that everything changed.

It came as he was reading The Goldfinch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Donna Tartt. It was the moment he discovered the true power of literature. The way it could move him, shape him, change him. The way it could ignite a spark and make him want to read more, think more, learn more.

“I thought, ‘Wow, these are just somebody’s words, but they can produce such strong feelings, emotions,’” he said. “I was fascinated by that — that language can have this effect on a person. That’s when I really wanted to start delving into it.”

That moment came as Kris was an inmate at the Westville Correctional Facility.

Mike remembers the moment that everything changed for him, too.

It came as he was reading a collection of essential American documents and reflecting on the concept of freedom. It was the moment he realized that, though he was incarcerated, his mind had been freed of the problems that led him there. And they wouldn’t be problems in his future.

“These courses helped me escape,” he said. “These help you to not be depressed. They show you there’s more to life, that this isn’t going to be forever. It gives you a way to build yourself up, to have a sense of hope.”

That moment came as Mike was an inmate taking classes taught by University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College faculty.