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Inmates from the Monmouth County Correctional Institution have been utilizing their time in the most productive manner, by going back to school. For the past 5 months,10 inmates have been studying for their GED (high school equivalency diplomas) online, through a program run by the Monmouth-Ocean Educational Services Commission. On Monday, March 18th they officially became graduates of the program and received their high school diploma from the State of New Jersey during a special ceremony at MCCI. “I am gratified by the commitment made by today’s graduates to use their time at MCCI in a constructive manner that will benefit tGEDgrad2013hem for the rest of their lives,” said Sheriff Shaun Golden, who addressed the students. “The wrong choices that brought the graduates to MCCI have provided these individuals the opportunity to make right choices about furthering their education and changing their lives.”

This state of the art, virtual online GED program began at the jail in 2007. The most recent graduation has put the total number of graduates to 150. The inmates study math, science, social studies, reading and writing five days a week to prepare for the GED exam. The online program runs throughout the entire year. “This accomplishment has helped me gain self-esteem,” said Prize Funk, a recent graduate of the program. “When I first came here I felt like I had given up. Now, it’s as if I have a new outlook on life.”

The administration of the Monmouth Ocean Educational Services Commission consists of Superintendent Timothy Nogueira and New Jersey Virtual School Director/Principal Maria Penzimer. Captain Shawn Althouse and Lieutenant Thomas Bollaro handle the program administration for the Sheriff’s Office Corrections Division.

“Education is the key to a productive future,” said Sheriff Shaun Golden. “No one can take that knowledge away. I’m hopeful these graduates will use it as they move forward and transition back into society for the purpose of positive change.”