Newswise — Project Rebound, which was launched at San Francisco State University in 1967, supports the success of formerly incarcerated college students by offering the opportunity and resources needed to successfully transition and acclimate to a college campus.
In 2016, with the support of CSU Chancellor Timothy White, this special admissions program expanded to include seven more CSU campuses, and today the program is offered at a total of nine CSU campuses:
- California State University, Bakersfield
- Fresno State University
- California State University, Fullerton
- California State University, Los Angeles
- California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
- California State University, Sacramento
- California State University, San Bernardino
- San Diego State University
- San Francisco State University
"[Project] Rebound scholars are a benefit on campus because they are more than students; they are teachers in the classroom who bring first-hand knowledge and insight into understanding criminal justice, corrections, business, and human services through a lens of lived experiences that can be applied to many disciplines," says Romarilyn Ralston, Project Rebound Program Coordinator at CSU Fullerton.
Ralston believes society is starting to understand the importance of a quality education for all, and more important, is more supportive of access to a quality education "as more and more returning citizens [coming from prison] apply to colleges and university seeking acceptance, transformation, and redemption," she says.
In honor of Project Rebound's 50th anniversary, we asked current students and an alumna from various CSU campuses to share how Project Rebound has helped them succeed as students:
Tony Vang, Fresno State, industrial technology
"Project Rebound has enabled me to look at life in a different perspective, and given me hope that I still have an opportunity at bettering my life. It has allowed me to understand that I am no less than an equal to my colleagues and peers. The two greatest benefits are having a support group and being surrounded by people who are going through the same experiences. It's great to know that you are not alone."
Rena Alspaw, San Diego State, social work with an emphasis in community corrections case management and a minor in leadership
"I had no interest in surrounding myself with other parolees upon my release. My experience in prison was that there were not many people who were serious about changing their lives or doing really positive and awesome things. Everyone involved in SDSU's Project Rebound is just as dedicated as I am, and that is beyond refreshing and supportive. It increases the people that I can reach out to in difficulty and who will truly understand my struggles and experiences. I want to advocate for these possibilities in a way that assures people who never thought it possible, that higher education and a successful life are not only possible but probable."
Sara Rodriguez, Cal Poly Pomona, 2017, magna cum laude, psychology with a minor in criminal justice
"I believe that a common fear that many formerly incarcerated scholars have is a sense of not knowing if they will be successful within their chosen majors and not knowing if they will be successful in academia. Project Rebound has personally benefitted me in many ways, but the most beneficial has been restoring a sense of hope and trust in my future that I will be successful, and that my education that I will have spent years acquiring will not be in vain."
Jimmy Garcia, CSU Bakersfield, sociology
"This program has impacted me in such a way that it has given me hope that once I graduate this program I will be able to find work regardless of my past criminal background. My goals and aspirations are to take my degrees and bring rehabilitation, reform, and de-criminalization programs to the city of Shafter and work with homeless populations that struggle with limited resources. By getting this education, I will have the knowledge to go out into the world and apply it to my goals and passion."
Daniel Gamez, Jr., Fresno State, public health
"Through our outreach programs we are given the opportunity to go out to halfway houses and even some facilities to speak to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women and open their eyes to the possibility of avoiding the revolving doors of incarceration through education. It pleases me that the same program that has gotten me back into school is giving me the opportunity to bring others along with me."
Jason Ritchie, San Diego State, computer science, rhetoric and writing, journalism
"Project Rebound has given me the opportunity to further my education beyond the community college level. The time spent here at SDSU, although short, has had a huge impact on my life already. I am seeing everyday how connecting with positive people, all working toward bettering themselves and others, makes me a better person and encourages me to continue working towards my goals – my dreams now seem truly possible. The CSU has given me the direction, counseling, and freedom to choose my path."